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Paving the Way for Your New Associate — Establishing a Specialty for Immediate Impact

Imagine transforming your practice overnight: more hands, more ideas, and more growth. That's the dream, right? Yet, for many ODs, the reality of adding a new associate is more of a challenge than a dream come true. Let's explore the gap between expectation and reality and how top-performing practice owners are closing the gap.

Picture this: a fresh-faced associate arrives, promising to lighten your load and propel your practice to new heights. Yet, instead of smooth sailing, you find yourself navigating a minefield of potholes. Sound familiar?

The fact is, we're often too optimistic about a new associate's ability to ‘hit the ground running’. Without clear goals, roles, and responsibilities, associates often flounder to find their footing and grow their roots. Without a differentiated and profitable specialty for them to offer patients, they’ll be stuck with low-reimbursement primary care patients.  We say we want differentiation, but when it comes to carving out that niche for our new associate, we often hesitate. Is it fear of letting go, anxiety around investing, or are we just too comfortable in our old routines?

The Road to Associate Autonomy Starts with the Right Intentions

Even when you're aware of the importance of thorough planning, you may feel the urge to take shortcuts. It's tempting, isn't it?  But the truth is, strategic planning isn't just a step; it's the foundation for sustainable growth for a new associate.  Planning often marks the difference between good and great outcomes.

Experienced practitioners are not immune to these challenges. Dr. Laurie Sorrenson, owner of Lakeline Vision Source in Austin, Texas, faced these hurdles head-on when transitioning her intern, Dr. Jennifer Catalasan, into a permanent optometrist role. The initial step proved challenging — how could she ensure that the newest member of the team would have the patient volume to fill her schedule?? 

If Dr. Sorrenson wanted to take the“safe” route, she could’ve hired Dr. Catalasan to offer primary care, seeing 20-40 patients per day, like so many other optometric associates out there. But instead, she saw something special in Dr. Catalasan, a level of care and patience that doesn’t come with every associate OD. She wanted to find an optometric specialty that could play to her strengths and a specialty that could offer big opportunities and a sense of purpose.

So, how did Dr. Sorrenson make the match? She didn't have a crystal ball, but she did discover NVMI at an industry event and identified NeuroVisual Medicine as a potential ace up her sleeve. Here's the playbook that turned Dr. Catalasan into a star player. 

Give Them the Reins, Not Just the Ride

Let’s get down to brass tacks. How do you give your new hire a specialty without them feeling like you've just handed them a Rubik's Cube and walked away? You empower them to take accountability for their work with a new patient population.

For Dr. Sorrenson, this took the form of empowering Dr. Catalasan to rise to the challenge and help her build out her own area of expertise in NeuroVisual Medicine. As Dr. Sorrenson put it, "It's always a good decision to give people that ability to find their path in what they're good at and what they enjoy."

Tap Into a Referral Gold Mine

Specialization isn't a 'set it and forget it' rotisserie oven. You've got to keep fanning the flames. Help your associates build momentum that propels them forward with confidence. Dr. Sorrenson didn't just hand Dr. Catalasan a specialty; she handed her a roadmap to achieve great success in the practice. 

Because Dr. Sorrenson chose NVM for her associate’s specialty practice, the task at hand was straightforward. An estimated 20% of patients suffer from BVD (Binocular Vision Dysfunction) and can benefit from NeuroVisual Medicine treatment — building this unique specialty served to guide these suffering patients right to the practice’s new associate.

Continuing Mastery: No, Not Just More Acronyms to Remember

Sure, every doctor needs those CE credits, but if your associate’s education ends there, it’s like stopping after book two in a trilogy. Proactive learning opportunities in their area of clinical interest will bolster your associate’s expertise and keep them abreast of the latest developments. Even after the initial training, Dr. Sorrenson’s partnership with NVMI ensures Dr. Catalasan gets continued support as her specialty develops further with check-ins and advice on any new challenging patients that walk through the door.

Creating a Masterpiece Takes More Than a Day

Here's the kicker: the journey doesn't end when you bring an associate on board. It's a continuous adventure, filled with plot twists and learning curves. Initiating an associate’s journey is merely the first step in elevating your practice. It’s a process that demands careful execution.

Even if an associate’s contribution is not immediately evident, it’s not too late for course corrections. Dr. Sorrenson advises patience and collaboration to discover what works best for both the associate and the practice.

How will you inspire your associate to climb the ranks and become the top performer?

Looking to dive deeper into the world of associate empowerment? Want to explore a specialty that could open a lucrative new cash-pay and medical revenue stream for your practice? Click below and let’s chat – your practice’s blockbuster season might just be one consultation away.

Can you create an environment where innovation isn’t just a buzzword but a daily pursuit?

Looking to dive deeper into the world of associate empowerment? Want to explore a specialty that could launch both your careers into the stratosphere? Click below and let’s chat – your practice’s blockbuster season might just be a consultation away.

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