I run a busy practice. Now, its smalltruly a mom and pop business with me seeing the patients and my wife Renee doing, well, everything. We have one other employee, Brandi. Most of the time, she is running up and down the hallway, charts in hand, patients in tow, heart attack pending.

So, how do I find time to just sit here and stare into the void? Dont know, but I do spend a few minutes each day staring off into space. Its like meditation for me. Its a time to go blank. Oh, sure, I also go blank when someone asks that age-old optometric question: How much are contact lenses? I just have these patients chase Brandi as she sprints by on another lap up and down the hallway. Brandi can pass them off to Renee, who can answer properly.

Staring into the void gives me the chance to collect important data about my practice. For example, last week I had eight no-shows. EIGHT! My plan is to reschedule these fine patients just as soon as possible. I think well let them have any Friday appointment. By the way, were not open on Fridays.

Staring into the void allows me to improve my education. I like to read optometric journals. I hate to suck up, but I do believe that Review of Optometry is the finest optometric magazine available. Have you read the list of names of the contributing editors and the editorial review board? Excellent people. Two of us are from West Virginia. Dr. Jack Terry, who is now running the National Board of Optometry, is the yin. I am the yang. The yin is moving to the board offices in North Carolina soon, or he can commute. Every West Virginian ends up in North Carolina sooner of later. Many of the O.D.s on the editorial board are from Pennsylvania. Makes sense. They know how to schmooze better than anyone in America. I went to O.D. school in Pennsylvania. Kinda explains the schmoozing in this paragraph.

Staring into the void gives me a chance to catch up on my charts. No matter how much information we cram into a chart, with check-offs, fill-in-the-blanks and so on, I never put enough on there to satisfy Renee. She wants our charts to be perfect. Audit proof. The other day, I had to pull one of Dr. Bodies old charts from the 70s. All it had on it was the patients name, not even an address. Guess that patient was fine. I got a copy of a chart from a prominent local ophthalmologist the other day. A single line was scrawled across the chart. I couldnt read it. Fortunately, someone (perhaps his wife/office manager) had poetically interpreted the scribble underneath as All is well.

My understanding is that she has a new Mercedes convertible. She earns her rewards, by golly.

Staring into the void does not adversely affect my motivation and effort with the next patient. Of course, I sometimes enter the room in a kind of dull, stupid haze. That may not be good. Grabbing the chart that interrupted my quiet time, I once gruffly started right in on a patient, Now, the last time you were here, there were significant risk factors for two different eye diseases, glaucoma and cataracts.

The 8-year-old boy in the chair was not amused by my mistake. (Grabbed the wrong chart.) If you think he freaked out, you should have seen his mother.

So, stare into the void. Youll get the chance today. Use this time to reload. I suggest that chocolate chips be part of the plan as well. Stare. Eat. Stare. Eat. Youll get the hang of it soon.

Vol. No: 142:9Issue: 9/15/2005