Alerting all optometrists and optometric managers, September 18th thru September 24th was Paraoptometric Week. This is a week to recognize all of the hard working optometric technicians in your office. The American Optometric Association observes it the third week of September annually. Doctors and managers are encouraged to recognize their staff in fun and creative ways. To help with this, the AOA has items that can be printed off the website under the Paraoptometric Recognition Week recognition kit. This kit includes a poster, a table top tent card, helpful ideas on how to recognize your staff, and the forms to nominate your staff for The Paraoptometric of the Year, The Community Service Award, and The Bridgeway Award.

Paraoptometrics are allied health professionals who assist optometrist in providing the highest level of vision care to patients. Paraoptometrics are personnel who extend the optometrist’s capabilities by assuming routine and technical aspects of vision care services. We are the professionals that run multitudes of test before you even get to the optometrists. There are different levels of Paraoptometrics, depending on the level of experience and knowledge, along with if the individual has taken the certification test to prove their capabilities.

No matter the level of experience, all paraoptometrics should be recognized this week. These are the people that control the flow of the office. Not only do we assure that the doctor sees all patients promptly while triaging any emergency patients appropriately, but we are also in charge of the transition from the doctors to the retail area for the opticians to assist with glasses and contact lens sales.

I work as a manager over a group of 5 paraoptometrics. This is a group of hard working, quick thinking individuals. I plan to celebrate them all week, with small, fun gifts of thanks for all the hard work, muffins for one morning (got to keep their energy up,) to providing lunch on our busiest day, Saturday. These are small gestures, but mean a lot to your staff and co-workers.

This is a week to recognize but also never stop pushing your employees to be the best. Make furthering education possible by providing study materials for test available, encourage attending Continue Education hours, and try to make each day interesting and intriguing by including the I the patient’s care as much as possible.

The following are a few of the ways that I am helping recognize the paraoptometrics that I work with for doing such a great job. I hope that this will help give ideas to make this week be not only fun but motivational for everyone.

  1. Provide lunch. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive, but going to the local deli and grabbing some sandwiches and chips is always a hit.
  2. Sweets! I like to bring in cupcakes or a cake. Also goody bags filled with candy, and a note of thanks attached is a wonderful gesture.
  3. Flowers or balloons. I love to get sunflowers to give out individually, or a balloon with “Thank you” on it.
  4. I like to bring in breakfast or snacks. This gives a chance not only to show appreciation for the paraoptometrics, but also share with the rest of the office. This gets everyone involved in the celebration.
  5. We have the availability to give employees “Shout Outs” on a computer system, this allows others to see all the hard work they have put in during the year. It also gives them the availability to be rewarded directly by the company.
  6. Some doctors like to give bonuses or gift cards.

Linda Hardy received the American Optometric Association Paraoptometric of the Year Award at the 2016 SECO meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. Linda is a Certified Optometric Technician (COT) and Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA). She is also ABO and NCLE certified and a Licensed Dispensing Optician (LDO) in the state of Georgia.

A graduate of Georgia Medical Institute as a Registered/ Certified Medical Assistant, Linda began her optical career working with a group of ophthalmologists as an ophthalmic assistant. She has been the Clinical Coordinator with a private optometry practice in Newnan, Georgia for 15 years.

Linda is also a speaker and educator at regional optical meetings. She and her husband have five children, and she enjoys spending time with her family, exercising, reading and volunteering in her community.