Business Aspects of Optometry, 2nd ed.
Association of Practice Management Educators: John G. Classe, Lawrence S. Thal, Roger D. Kamen, Ronald S. Rounds, eds. Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2004. Price: $89.00.
This is a book developed by practice management educators that could be used as a text in all schools and colleges of optometry. It represents a consolidation of the collaborative efforts of educators in the field of practice management, encompassing almost all aspects of the business of optometry.
Its comprehensive nature makes it an excellent reference book when questions arise. Because it is intended to be a text and a reference, it is not a book with which I would want to sit down and spend an evening. When an optometrist or student of optometry has a business question, whether about the structure of the business entity, designing an office, taxes, or business development, this book has a chapter or section that addresses the question.
The authors and collaborators are experts in their areas and have created a text that is understandable to even the uninitiated. Not an easy task. Some of the contents are at risk of becoming rapidly dated, because of the dynamic nature of the subject being covered. Tax laws, for example, change frequently, and, as the book advises, the reader is encouraged to seek the advice of professionals who specialize in the area of concern. The initial chapter of the book addresses demographics. This is another subject area that seems to change rapidly as the nature and scope of optometric practice grows and expands and as the characteristic mix of new graduates evolves.
The extensive use of bulleted items, tables, figures, and "boxes" is valuable and informative for points of reference. Because the book is a collection of chapters written by various authors, there is some inconsistency in format. Although illustrative examples and inclusions are the rule in most chapters, they are conspicuously absent in others. Checklists such as those found in the chapters on "Organizing an Office," "Practice Financing," "Managing an Office Staff," and the section on "Practice Options" are excellent. In the case of "Office Computerization" in which checklists might have been most helpful, they were missing. The chapter "Use of Computers" was valuable and informative. It could have been made more beneficial to an individual seeking to make a computerization decision if the author had offered some tabular guidance. That guidance could have informalized the analysis process for determining a direction to pursue and given a logical way to arrive at a decision regarding product and applications—a very computer-like approach.
Sources of particular enjoyment for this reader were the quotes that were included in the headings for each chapter. One of my favorites is "Parkinson’s Law: Work Expands to Fill the Time Available for Its Completion."
Organizing and producing a book of this necessary complexity and inclusiveness is a very big task. The challenge to choose those subjects that are needed for a book of this type, and separating them from items that are merely of interest, is difficult. The authors have done an excellent job in this regard. On the whole, the book is well organized by section allowing a reader using the book as a reference to quickly go to the specific area of concern. Although the book is apparently intended for use as a text, it is a useful resource for a new graduate as well as the experienced practitioner.
Charles H. Bailey
School of Optometry
University of California, Berkeley