Much of what we optometrists do can be summed up by this type of writing: words that start with the letter P.

Practice: One question that every human has askedother than Where is the closest bathroom? is the following: Why is medicine PRACTICED? If someone is taking care of some important organ system, shouldnt he practice before he starts poking and prodding that organ system? Well, we all know that the reason we practice is because we never really feel like we got the hang of it.

Paranoia: Optometrists are especially freaky. For some reason we believe that everyonefrom the kid behind the counter at the coffee shop to the President of the United Statesis out to get us. (Actually, one or both of them probably are.)

Were so afraid of leaving some important stone unturned that we end up telling a patient that their pinguecula might be part of a brain tumor. Well, it could be, I guess. Now that I think about it, I better call that last patienthis headache could mean hes pregnant.

Profit: No word is more disrespected in this land than PROFIT. God forbid a doctor make a good living. On the other hand, if he was 68 and could dribble, then a $4 million signing bonus is only fair. Friends, please spread the news: PROFIT is not a four-letter word. Reduce my profit incentive and Ill reduce my hand washing before I stick that contact lens in your eye, OK?

Presbyopia: Presbyopia is my retirement plan. The baby boomers cant see. Blur is job security. That reminds me I meant to reduce the font size on my all patient handouts Uh-oh, now I cant see them

Property: When I downsized my office from a huge building with four exam rooms, volleyball-court sized reception area, voluminous frame room, spacious back lab, eight employees and three other testing/treatment rooms to my current three-employee, two-exam roomed office, they said I was crazy. Then, the economy did whatever it did. All I know is this: I now have a little office with more bathrooms than examination rooms and nearly zero debt. Property can make you seem like youre crazy or like youre a geniusjust depends. I prefer to think crazy and genius are the same qualities in our profession.

Planning: OK, heres where I just do not measure up. I hate to plan. I hate to strategize. I hate to make decisions. I hate to consider my options. The good news: If you ever met my wife, Renee, you know that I do not actually ever have to do any of the above. This frees me to just do the easy stuff in the office: doctoring.

Patience: Every optometrist needs patience. (Every optometrist needs patients, too. This profession would be great if it wasnt for them.) Im talking patience. In todays computer-smeared world, we have all become NOW freakazoids. We want it NOW. Push a button and you can have it NOW!

To me, NOW is highly overrated. I prefer a moment or two between every event in my life. Time for me to reflect, to listen, to brood, to fantasize. In other words, to nap. Z-Z-Z-z-z-z

OK, Im back. Its time for the final P

Postmortem: Someday, you will be gone, gone, gone. When your patients read your obit, will they go, Hey, that guy looks like our old optometrist, or will they say, Now, that was a great doctor. He had three bathrooms.

So, please, mind your Ps.

(Next month: Qs.)

Vol. No: 146:05Issue: 5/15/2009