Are We Doctors?
The debate continues. Should we call ourselves as doctors’?
This article is written in response to recent posts on social media by some optometrists claiming to be doctors.
- Optom. Yeshwant Saoji, LVPEI Fellow 1992
Let us understand why Optometrists want the prefix Dr.?
In India, medical profession is considered to be a white collared and respectable profession. Hence the parents want their children to either be Engineers or Doctors. When we say we are Optometrists, we get a - What do you mean by that - kind of look, which we all resent. After studying for anywhere between four to ten years and doing such wonderful work of giving the best vision that we can, we want the society to recognize us, to address us Optometrists and to praise us. But we get that look! So lets earn the praise.
So if a patient recognizes our hard work and appreciates our services, if we get public recognition and if the bachelors or spinsters amongst us, get married because the boy or the girl’s profession is Optometry, would we prefer to use the prefix Optom. instead of Dr.? Most certainly yes!
Few of the great ideas that I have seen in few of the Optometry clinics across India:
It all starts here isn’t it? Optom. Yeshwant Saoji on the visiting card, on the glow signboard and in information directories is the first introduction of the word Optometry to the prospective patient.
The good old practice that we follow at LVPEI of introducing ourselves to the patients’, as OPTOMETRISTS is such an important step in building patient loyalty. Follow that each day!
If you spot a doctor in jeans and tees sporting a cap, would you be able to recognize him? I wont. It’s the dressing sense, the clinic interiors and the certificates that tell me he/she is a doctor. So how difficult is it for us to have a proper Optometry clinic, a proper dressing sense and a professional practice. We want bigger Optical stores and smaller clinic and then want our patients to see us as professionals and not as Opticians. Lets fix our priorities right. If you wish to eat a Mango, grow an mango tree, don’t expect to get Mangoes from a Banana tree.
Some of us use the prefix Dr. to avoid getting that look, few others would want to get the due recognition, yet few more of us want that white collar and few more because we are desperately searching for our own identity. Personally I feel it’s the last one, which most often is the reason.
Spare a page for Optometry. Talk about the field and our area of expertise. It will be money well spent. When people read about it they would prefer to visit you for an exam. Then live up to the promised professional experience. You will surely get patients for life.
Write articles about Optometry and vision care. We have been blessed with a profession that is of interest to many, be it a student or a computer operator, a businessman or a surgeon. All need our help. We have lot of interesting topics to talk on. Write about Optometry a career option during the admission period. Gradually the whole world would know.
Who is an Optometrist?
Some of us have that poster in our clinics, which talks about what
Optometrists are and what is the scope of Optometry practice. It’s a must have for any Optometry clinic.
Great Career Option:
Ask children visiting you to join Optometry course. Phrases like, “Optometry can be a great career option for your child” would raise lot of ears.
The patient may not trust you and I but will definitely trust Google. After their wives people listen to Google. A kid in tenth class can be given a small note with Optometry written and asked to Google it. They would definitely do it. Your purpose is achieved!
Next time you get a patient, proactively inform him that you are NOT a doctor. His next question is bound to be –
“Then who are you?” Now is your chance to make a difference. Explain what Optometry is and what an Optometrist is. See how many patients he refers to your practice. Do this for ten patients; you will start calling yourself as an Optom.
Once you get rid of the prefix Dr., you will realize that our collars too shine as white and our professional too is a noble one. Let enjoy working as Optometrists and be proud of it.
You tell a few and I shall tell a few, together we shall make our profession famous!
About the author
Mr Yeshwant Saoji is an Optometrist having a private Optometry clinic in Nagpur. He delivers primary optometry eyecare with diligence and is well-known for his cordial relationships with ophthalmologists who he involves in his patients' eyecare with pride. Yeshwant is a graduate of the Elite School of Optometry and Fellow Of Optometry from the first batch at the L V Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad with a Masters in Optometry from the School Of Optometry, Bharati Vidyapeeth University Pune. Other Fellowships include Fellow of International Association of Contact Lens Educators - FIACLE and Fellow of British Contact Lens Association - FBCLA.