I could not live without…

My contact lens team

Winner of the AOP Awards Contact Lens Practitioner of the Year accolade, Suzanne Czerwinski, shares why the support team she works with is vital

Specsavers contact lens support team

When asked what you could not live without in practice, the answer often tends to be a flashy piece of new equipment or cutting edge technology.

These obviously serve their purpose and aid in diagnosis, management and patient compliance, while technology is, of course, essential in a modern-day practice. However, for me, the answer is very different. Put simply, I could not live without my contact lens support team.

A helping hand

As a contact lens optician, I love what I do and I enjoy having such a positive impact on people’s lives. Having a passion for contact lenses helps me overcome the many issues that patients can present with inside the consulting room.

Yet, outside of the consulting room can be quite a different story, and I rely heavily on the team that works on the shop floor to continue to provide my patients with the care they need.

Practising in a very busy, very large multiple is fast-paced, and clinic efficiency and capacity needs to be carefully managed. From both a clinical and commercial perspective, maximising my time in the consulting room and fulfilling the needs of my patients regarding the clinical aspects of their contact lenses is essential. Looking after patients in the consulting room is my responsibility, but in order to ensure they receive the utmost care and attention outside of the room, my contact lens team is always on hand.

"Of course I am biased, but I believe that the level of dedication, experience and patient care they deliver is exceptional"

A dedicated team

My contact lens support team comprises five colleagues. Three of them have worked in the practice for over 14 years. Of course I am biased, but I believe that the level of dedication, experience and patient care they deliver is exceptional.

Delivering a personal service to our regular patients, mixed with a ‘click and collect’ efficient approach to those in a hurry, takes a combination of skill and dedication that is only matched by their experience and expertise.

We often run up to three contact lens clinics per day, so there are times when it can become a little hectic. The team, who are all qualified ocular hygienists, cover everything from assessing and delivering accurate pre-appointment information and pre-testing assessments, to being there to help the patients post-appointment, with anything from application and removal, to ordering custom made and bespoke contact lenses.

The modern patient now demands a bewildering variety of frequent replacement schemes, the maintenance of which would challenge the most adept administrators. With several thousand patients on a Direct Debit scheme, this is just another job that the team does outside of the consulting room that enables me to focus on the professional patient care inside the room.

While we are not the largest contact lens business within Specsavers, we are very proud to have been crowned the Specsavers 2016 Contact Lens Practice of the Year. This achievement would never have been possible without the commitment and dedicated teamwork of my contact lens support team.

The continually improving technology available to us is fantastic and is critical to us in improving the patient care we can provide, but technology only takes us so far. I don’t believe that anything replaces the people-to-people interaction in our profession and I would choose my contact lens team over an image of a deposited lens any day, even if it was in HD.

In contact lens practice, it is the people who make the difference. My team makes a difference to me and to my patients. They add enormously to the value that I can provide in the consulting room. I can live without great gadgets, but I cannot live without great people.