15 November 2011
Posted in Pearls in Ophthalmology
By Diana R. Shiba, MD
Why become a leader, or a better one? There are a myriad of reasons:
- On a social level, maybe you just want to be more involved in what’s going on around you, want to be more in the buzz and “in the loop.”
- On a professional level, maybe you’re frustrated with the costs of running a practice, and want to have more of a say in what affects your practice.
- Maybe you’re concerned about how Optometrists in Kentucky can now do laser and eyelid surgeries.
- Maybe you’d like to make some changes to your residency program, or maybe to all U.S. residency programs.
Maybe you want to effect change in the world, and do some good in it.
Whatever the reason, here are some general pearls that can help you become a better leader.
1) Be passionate. Be inspired.
Many leaders “have a dream” or a passion. If you are truly passionate about a particular idea or goal, when you speak about it to others, your enthusiasm and energy will often shine through. And if you have a dream or passion that’s shared by another (and even better – have a means by which to realize that dream or passion) you’re likely to engage that person and get them excited too!
Many great leaders have a passion – a goal or a dream, or a sense of duty to those around them. They often have a sense of responsibility to be the voice for those who don’t have a voice. They’re often looking out for the greater good. They communicate well, and can share their passions with others, and subsequently can inspire others with their ideas.
2) Get involved.
How to get involved in all the leadership roles that present themselves in life is beyond the scope of this article. The key is to start somewhere. This can be at a very local level – whether it means getting more involved with your residency program, in the management of running your practice, or even in the community. Get involved with the Academy, your local chamber of commerce, or even with local or state offices.
Getting out there, meeting, and talking to other people will not only give you an opportunity to hone your communication skills, but will also give you the invaluable opportunity to build relationships. These relationships may become good friendships or ones that help you to grow on a professional, as well as on a personal, level.
Did you know we have 14 M.D.s in Congress and two of them are eye M.D.s?
And they all started somewhere!
a) Residency/Training: At your residency program, start talking with the other residents, see how they feel about issues you feel strongly about. Get a consensus. (There is power in numbers!) Respectfully approach your program director, or the appropriate person, to discuss the issues. On a larger level, get involved with the ACGME/RRC (Residency Review Committee) and have a real say in the education and training of all ophthalmology residents across the U.S.
b) Early practice: Start talking to other ophthalmologists, maybe from your practice, maybe from your training program, or maybe with other MDs within your referral base. Start networking! Join your state eye society, and meet some of the “movers and shakers” in your area. Get updates on what the society is doing (did you know Congress wants to enact an advisory “board” composed mostly of non-physicians to determine payment to eye MDs?). Find out how you can help out and how to become a local leader!
c) Attend the Mid-Year forum in D.C, and have a real impact at the nation’s capital. Meet your members of Congress. Meet Academy leaders and other ophthalmologists who are heavily involved in advocacy. Or, help out with OPHTHPAC and the Surgical Scope fund. It’s a sad truth, but money does open doors in your state or in D.C.
A victory: Last year with about $2 million in funds given for advocacy, Academy leaders and OPHTHPAC were able to actually get a Medicare increase in funding (where Cardiology and Radiology lost) a $550 million dollar Medicare payment boost over the next 4 years!! That’s a huge return on an initial investment – so please give!
3) Be a mentor or mentee!
If a mentee, seek out a mentor who can show you the ropes around the office, around your residency program, around your career, and life!
If you’re a resident, seek out academic professors, community MDs, Academy leaders, and even senior residents. They can help you learn so much. As a practicing MD, the senior colleagues in your practice, your state eye society buddies, or even Academy leaders can help and advise you in so many ways.
And remember to give back! Mentor a medical student, teaching them the clinical and the non-clinical stuff. Mentor your colleagues. Help train residents with their surgeries and help them familiarize with advocacy and other ways to get involved. Introduce them to your colleagues and to “real world” ophthalmology.
Some of the best leaders are the best at identifying and nurturing new leaders.
Why is now a good time to be a leader?
Healthcare today is in flux and our patients, colleagues, and nation need more physician leaders. Now is the perfect time to start, whether it be at a local, state, or national level.
Go for it!
Diana R. Shiba, M.D. is in her first year of practice with the Southern California Permanente Medical Group with Kaiser. She serves on the AAO Young Ophthalmologist Subcommittee on Advocacy, California Academy of Eye Physicians, and Surgeons Board of Councilors. She is also a previous member of the Board of Trustees for the California Medical Association and previous Vice-Speaker for the AMA Resident and Fellow Section. In addition, she is the recipient of the AMA Excellence in Leadership Award.