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Learning to Lead

One doctor's medical leave created fast-track learning on leadership

Dr. Younany

When Claudia Younany, OD, learned that Kambiz Silani, OD, the owner of the practice where she worked, was taking an extended medical leave of absence that grew even longer with the onset of the COVID-19 lockdown, she knew she was up for the challenge. The practice, Beverly Hills Optometry, primarily serves as a dry eye clinic, but the doctors also provide primary care. While Dr. Younany was comfortable in primary care, the other services offered by the practice were still new to her. “It was a rapid-fire way of learning all the treatments,” she says. “I would say it was a bit of a shock, but I said, ‘If we need to stay late some days so I can learn the devices… we will do whatever we need to do.’”

Dr. Silani proved to be an excellent and patient teacher. “I had his support and he was willing to teach me,” she says. Dr. Silani helped Dr. Younany prepare her for the leadership role. “Once you get a feel for a technology after a few patients, it becomes a pretty easy transition. I am a hands-on learner,” she says. “You have to learn new techniques and new technology, but when you get your hands on it and start applying that [knowledge] towards patients, it becomes very approachable.”

The rapid advancement in dry eye technologies represented Dr. Younany’s greatest challenge. “I had heard about different devices for dry eye, but I didn’t fully understand their complexity until I had that device in front of me,” she says. The practice carries many of the current dry eye treatments, such as LipiFlow, BlephEx and intense pulsed light (IPL)—and with each comes new learning. Dr. Younany also tackled the optimization of treatment plans for each patient, which sometimes involves the combination of more than one treatment. “It’s customized from patient to patient,” she says.

BEDSIDE MANNERS

One of the biggest challenges Dr. Younany faced in her learning was patient communication. “I don’t think doing the procedure is the most difficult part, but instead the challenge is that the patient understands why we’re doing it and how we are treating the root cause,” she says. From there, the treatment plan makes more sense and feels more approachable for the patient long-term. Many of the dry eye treatments require an at-home regimen, so it’s important for patients to understand how their actions can maximize their success, she says.

Dr. Silani’s absence may have come as a bit of a surprise to patients, but Dr. Younany handled it like a pro. “Most patients were very understanding when I let them know the situation,” she says about the patients who had been coming regularly for years. She notes that the patients were comforted by the knowledge that Dr. Younany was trained by Dr. Silani. “I’m being trained with authenticity,” she says. “My bedside manner—hearing them out and listening to what’s going on—gave them more confidence.”

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

“It’s not only about treating the symptoms of the disease but caring for the patient as a whole.” With their patient-centered care, Dr. Silani and Dr. Younany continually look for ways to provide top-notch care. “We have no problem getting a second opinion because we want to make sure the patient is getting the best care they can possibly get.” The doctors have found that their honest and transparent patient philosophy has garnered trust from other professionals in their area. “We’ve been very lucky with having many surgeons in the area refer to us with their complicated cases,” so that patients have the best ocular surface prior to surgeries, she says. [“We’re able to provide] such significant help and relief to all the patients. We’re doing something that’s helping; that’s giving back. Although we were met with some significant challenges in Dr Silani’s absence, our team stepped up to fill those gaps. Now that he’s returned, we are stronger than ever and patients have two highly trained physicians on their team.”

Learn more about Beverly Hills Optometry here.

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