Building trust between Optometrists & Ophthalmologists for patient care

This is the second installment of continuing series about the cooperative relationship that may be possible with ophthalmologists and optometrists.

But first, a backdrop needs to be in place. If either eye care provider (ECP), ophthalmologist or optometrist) reads their professional organization's public relations literature, you might believe that there are never any good working relationships between the two ECPs.  For many ECPs, that belief is so strong, that it might blind either side that the patient's well being is missed.

I think one of the first steps in opening dialogue between the two ECPs is meeting your colleagues face-to-face at least once.  I know there are some who believe that the words that flow from their mouths are golden and probably are unalterable truths. What one finds, though, are elements of kindness in either that makes them worthy doctors to their patients.

Tapping into that self dignity, then it is possible that if we can look at one another and ask ourselves what is the best for the patient? It's possible.  What we forget is whether we are talking about Canada or the United States, there are obviously situations where there are more patients than there are ECPs.  In these circumstances, it just makes sense to work together for the patient's benefits.

On the one side, the ophthalmologist might feel that their judgment is above reproach and unquestioned.  On the other side the optometrist might feel unappreciated. Neither side holding fast these views will be obstacles to collaboration.   Therefore, trust must be built between the two. The ophthalmologist must trust the optometrist that no harm will come to a patient under joint care.  The optometrist must trust the ophthalmologist that the patient won't be hijacked. If either feels that these are unalterable obstacles, then the preexisting struggle of the two ECPs will persist.

I think the professional organizations that each of us belong are capable of overseeing the benefits of the professions as a whole, but those efforts will fail to address the day-to-day minutiae of practicing in our offices and dealing with our patients.  I know that such viewpoints will be difficult to appreciate, and maybe unreachable, but each individual ECP has the prerogative and capability of making such a gesture. After all, the patient is the beneficiary, isn't it?

My next installment will begin to unveil what optometrists do? I think that some in the medical profession have viewpoints that may have been shaped by personal experiences or by anecdotes from colleagues.  They may or may not be true today.