The Consulting Room: It’s good to talk

Nigel Kirkpatrick considers the crucial role communication plays within the industry

An advertising slogan once declared ‘It’s good to talk’, but for ophthalmologists and optometrists, regular communication is vital as we try to make sense of the complex world where our patients need our support.  

I understand that having conversations can sometimes seem daunting. One aspect of my medical director role that I wasn’t so sure about was the thought of standing up in front of audiences to talk about eye surgery, our clinical services, the state of the NHS or other aspects of our profession. But, when I think about it, it has become a logical next step for me.  

I had spent many years ploughing a furrow in my local area as a retinal surgeon and had set up a surgery starting from zero that rapidly developed into a thriving group of consultants performing more than 1,000 vitrectomy (VR) cases per year. I was perfectly happy talking to patients, discussing their problems with them, and then using my surgical skills to try to help their cause. With experience, I hope I developed the ability to remain honest with my patients, offering support but also not over-promising, particularly when faced with challenging problems.  

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