The Best Rewards

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Women In Optometry asked advisory panel members about the best rewards they’ve given or received.


Bridgitte Shen Lee, OD, appreciates the honors that her colleagues, the business community and the patient community have shown her. She’s one of eight U.S.-based practitioners who was selected to be a TFOS DEWS II Global Ambassador, and she recently received the honor of being named one of the “50 Houston Most Influential Women.”


For Maria Sampalis, OD, knowing that she helped a colleague is a buzz. “When I get a call/text or message saying that something I did or wrote has helped, it’s the best recognition I can get. Knowing that something I did has helped others is the best feeling!”


Kelly Nichols, OD, MPH, PhD, FAAO, says that a personal touch makes all the difference. “In today’s electronic world, a handwritten thank-you note is always appreciated. Also, remembering the small things a person likes is thoughtful (e.g., hot chocolate vs. coffee, dark chocolate or a mystery book). I handwrite birthday cards to all faculty, staff and students. I often get thank-you notes for the cards from the students—some of whom likely do not often receive a real card.”


Barbara Horn, OD, says the best recognition that she has ever received was hearing one employee tell another employee that “because of me, she strives to be a better person (and employee/friend/mother). I expect a lot out of people—to always do their best—but I never get angry. Rather, I try to help them in the way they need the help. Any way that it’s done = encouraging.”


Melissa Barnett, OD, FAAO, FSLS, FBCLA, says that the professional recognitions that she has received have motivated her to be an advocate for the profession, continue to learn and teach and inspire others to incorporate new methods to improve the lives of their patients and their practices. Receiving acknowledgment is terrific, but she also likes to give appreciation. “Thanking my staff daily helps motivate them to be their best selves, which in turn helps patients and the practice. Recognition improves employee satisfaction and enjoyment of work, improves productivity when the positive behavior is reinforced and creates loyalty in the practice. Recognition improves employee retention, reducing turnover. Thanking my staff creates a positive team environment and makes work more enjoyable.”


Mary Anne Murphy, OD, also finds that the very best way to be recognized is a simple, handwritten thank you delivered face-to-face. “Staff members seem to prefer a thank-you note with a gift card for something personal; if I know they like candy, I will pick up a specific candy bar or sweet treat. If I know they are hosting family for the holidays, I will get a gift card for a grocery store. If I know they have a pet, a pet store gift card is always appreciated,” she says.

The practice name abbreviated is FREA, so Dr. Murphy offers “FREA”- glee. “Anyone can submit a compliment for another employee, and those are read aloud at a staff meeting and put into a drawing for one $10 coffee gift card. Mostly, they are very positive, but sometimes, they are funny. (‘Thanks for wearing those green socks on St. Patty’s Day. They really got me in the mood!’)”