Interdisciplinary Ophthalmology

Eyes are unimaginably complex. Within one small orb there are numerous fine layers performing various different functions in harmony with one another to form the images that are sent to our brains for us to see. Optometrists and general ophthalmologists see the bulk of eye care patients but when someone with a specialized disease or injury comes in, they are often sent to a subspecialist.Corneal specialists, vitreoretinal surgeons, oculoplastics physicians, neuro-ophthalmologists, glaucoma specialists and low vision physicians all  work independently in their respective fields but there are times when these specialties cross. In addition to working beside fellow subspecialists, there are times when ophthalmologists work closely with general health practitioners, nutritionists, endocrinologists and oncologists for the best outcomes for their patients.The old saying “the eyes are the window to the soul” is not too far off from the truth. Often times, a routine eye exam is the first place where a patient will get a diagnosis for their hypertension or, more commonly, diabetes. One optometrist I previously worked with diagnosed a man with a mysterious lung disease that confounded his primary care physician with histoplasmosis. A more holistic approach to caring fore patients like these is highly beneficial for the patient of course, but also for the practitioner, as increased communication paints a better HPI. Within eye care alone, certain subspecialties work very closely beside each other. Oculoplastics surgeons and neuro-ophthalmologists work together at times to tackle the many issues presented with thyroid eye disease. At the University of Pennsylvania, plastics and neuro doctors have teamed up to form the Thyroid Eye Clinic, where issues like proptosis, lid retraction, diplopia and optic neuropathies can be treated comprehensively and simultaneously. At its inception in 2018, the clinic had a few hiccups relating more to scheduling and patient flow, but as the months passed, a rhythm formed and the seamless patient care became more fluid.I personally had the privilege of being the lead technician for this program and saw first hand the difficulties of merging two fields together for patient care but I can say wholeheartedly that this is the best way to practice for the people we treat. Dr. Mark Abelson, author of the 2005 Review of Ophthalmology article “Interdisciplinary Work: The Wave of the Future” agrees: “Collaboration between various fields will improve our knowledge of certain disease pathologies and our ability to develop beneficial treatments”. Working with other specialties, practices and hospital systems improves the care that our patients receive and potentially the future of disease treatment.Joining forces with physicians and specialties outside of your current field can be challenging at first, but with patience and time, it will come together. Listening and accurate record keeping is a major facet to interdisciplinary work, especially when you are hearing terms and phrases that may be foreign to you in your current role. When a patient presents with multiple ailments, documenting the pertinent information and using critical thinking skills to determine which test or physician they should encounter first helps tremendously with work flow. Lastly, working as a team is the biggest part of any collaboration. Respecting the staff of the other discipline and their protocols, even when vastly different from what you may be accustomed to, is key to making the office flow harmoniously. Our job is to help our patients first and foremost; if helping them means working alongside with our medical professionals for the best outcome, then that is what we must do.

Abelson, M. & Plumer, A. (2005, April 29). Interdisciplinary work: the wave of the future. Retrieved from

Mulvihill, K. (2018). Scheie launches thyroid eye disease progam. Retrieved from


Diversity in the Workplace

Diversity is a key component in the success of an organization. Those of different backgrounds contribute new ideas and ways of thinking to an otherwise homogenous group. In striking a balance within an office setting, there are two ways to strategically staff: actively or passively. Active hiring is the commonly thought of hiring practice; a business has a position opening, they post this opening on job boards and have applicants apply to the company. The passive approach involves a little more initial research and HR seeks out a candidate based on previous experience. Regardless of the approach, pursuing a diverse workforce not only important but attainable.

Imagine you work in a large medical practice with multiple satellite offices. In the event that business is growing and more staff is needed, multiple job listings will be available at a time. By broadcasting online that the company is hiring, potential candidates can submit resumes and apply for one of these many job listings. By listing that your company is an equal opportunity employer and having potential future employees fill out an optional survey, employers have the chance to interview those of a certain gender or race, hiring managers can seek out a more diverse group to interview with. If this type of survey is unavailable, diverse hiring practices can be adhered to after the interview process.

What if your office is fully staffed but a new position is opening up for a highly specialized task, like staff training or education? An excellent option for this would be a passive hiring approach. Using websites liked LinkedIn and similarly designed professional profile pages, HR can find individuals who meet the criteria for a position. In doing so, employers can seek out qualified individuals of different backgrounds to provide a more diversified staff. By hiring someone with the education and previous experienced required, the role is filled with someone who knows their stuff. Someone who is of a diverse background, whether based on gender or ethnicity, may have a completely different outlook to present to the organization which may not have been thought of before.

Regardless of whether the hiring practice follows an active design or a passive approach, it is crucial that employers have a staffing strategy that outlines their hiring practices. In these practices, a section on what the diversity goals are and how to meet this metric is paramount (Mochal, 2003). A melting pot of employees and coworkers from various backgrounds is important to discovering new ways of thinking and problem solving. It is easy for management to default to hiring those most like them, but this is a very dangerous path to go down. Diversity and a strong stance on discrimination are the backbone of any hiring practice and cannot be overlooked when bringing on new employees.

Mochal, T. (2003, September). Develop a staffing strategy when making hiring decision. Retrieved from