By Marjolijn Bijlefeld, Women In Optometry managing editor
In the count-your-blessings category, eye care is an essential health care service. Your patients have missed you; some will return sooner than others, and the relationships and reputation you’ve developed will bring them back.
But COVID-19 is causing us to look differently at everything. I wonder if I’ll ever return to a restaurant with a sneeze guard over the salad bar. I wonder how long I’ll cross the street when someone is approaching on the sidewalk. Will we automatically step six feet away from the person in line in front of us?
We’ve been studying the results of Women In Optometry (WO) Pop-up Polls and Jobson Optical Research over these months. They show how much optometrists are reconfiguring their futures. It’s certainly not going to be “so long to the optical,” but there might be changes there—more disinfecting stations, UV wands, opticians bringing frames to the patient rather than letting patients touch whatever they see. The daily patient schedule will change for the foreseeable future. Most ODs will be favoring wash-and-wear scrubs or business casual clothes rather than dry-cleaned outfits. And masks and shields may be everywhere until people are assured that COVID-19 transmission rates are under control.
COVID-19 is also changing how we access information. Industry meetings with CE and in-office visits by vendor representatives are being replaced with webinars, online CE and virtual lunch-and-learn sessions. Online readership of journals, magazines, blogs and supportive social media networks are through the roof. While in-person attendance to events will return, many like the efficiency in this shift.
That isn’t to say it’s easy. Many ODs and staff members are juggling their practice management, emergency patient visits, homework help, webinar attendance, exercise routines, care of children or parents and more. But maybe you’ve discovered something about yourself that is unlikely to change back to the old ways. Maybe you’re now assessing how to mesh the new and the old.
We’ve done some of that analysis, too. What we’ve seen is that COVID-19 has advanced the timing for the writing that has long been on the wall: most readers prefer their information electronically. It’s immediate, portable and accessible.
When we relaunched the WO website in early March, our viewership more than doubled. Our articles are now more accessible, and the site is easier to navigate. We’ve adapted quickly to the new: bringing you the information that you want for your practice and life now—not with the next print issue. It would be hard to revert to that—now that we have all benefitted from the immediacy.
When we have information to share, we don’t want to delay it. We want to bring it to you in
an accessible, convenient way. This will be the final print edition of Women In Optometry but also the start of an even more robust platform—stories of success, inspiration, excellence, challenge, fortitude, bravery and innovation. We remain dedicated to the interests of women ODs.