Approximately twenty years ago I (about Amy Wong) took a summer job working for, Katzen Eye Group, one of the largest ophthalmology practices in the state of Maryland. This summer job lasted eight years and I only left because I decided it was time to go to law school. So what kept me at a summer job that was only supposed to last until I found a job in the field for which I was trained. The answer is I became part of the Katzen Eye Group (KEG) story because I knew that together we really did make a difference in our patient’s lives.
***As you are reading this consider whether any of your employees, twelve years from now, would refer their friends, family members and colleagues to your practice. If you’re not sure, then now is the time to create a story that you and your employees are proud to not only be a part of, but one they enjoy sharing.
The Story Background
When I first started working at Katzen Eye Group I was hired as a receptionist; however, within a month, at my request, I was being trained by the lead technician to learn the duties of an ophthalmic assistant. Shortly thereafter, I was shadowing the owner and director, Dr. Leeds Katzen; or to those lucky enough to be in his inner circle, Jack Katzen. Note: You’ll have to ask him yourself how, as young boy, he got this nickname and why it has stuck with him his whole life.
What makes Dr. Katzen different from his Colleagues?
Dr. Katzen has an innate ability to make everyone (his staff and patients) feel at ease. He is non-assuming and contrary to most of his counterparts spends more time listening than treating. His patients, all of them, even the PIA’s are valued. This sometimes may have meant taking 30 minutes with a patient that was supposed to be a 10 minute follow-up exam. Now in most practices this would likely have caused disgruntled patients and disgruntled staff members for the remainder of the day…not for us. We rarely got complaints and when we did they rarely left the office unhappy. Keep in mind our normal schedule without add-ons usually started with approximately 50 patients. By the end of the day we had likely seen closer to 60. So how did he do it? He did it with his story and by developing that story with his team who supported him throughout the day. His story, my story, our story evolved each day we were together and, if asked, continues to be retold to this day.
As a young boy, Dr. Katzen, liked to play ball in Patterson Park and when the sun would finally set he would return to his small row house in Baltimore City, Maryland. His sleeping quarters were small and for the most part, there were no material luxuries in his life. His parents were not working professionals so he didn’t have the connections that are usually associated with getting into medical school. In short, nothing was easy for him and he had to work hard to attain everything he achieved, but he had a vision and worked tirelessly to achieve his vision.
His Success Lies in the Fact that he Never Forgot his Story
Dr. Katzen never forgot where he came from and never failed to show his appreciation to those who helped him continue his vision each day. To this day, he is passionate about his practice, patients, and staff members.
While working with him I enjoyed listening to him reminisce with his patients about what it was like to grow up in Baltimore City, as well as the lessons he learned while in his first years of practice. It is only now, some twenty years later, I realize this was his way of breaking the perceived doctor/patient barrier. His stories put everyone at ease and facilitated the entire exam process.
To create a memorable story that is worth retelling you will need to engage with your patients as people first and patients second and more importantly, as Dr. Katzen so astutely realized, engage your staff as people first, and employees second.