Sometimes, it doesn’t seem fair. It’s your first day at the office and some things don’t seem right. It may or may not be your permanent surroundings but you quickly note that the paper towel dispenser or rack is 6 feet off of the ground and the paper charts rack near the exam room door is similarly positioned. Imagine reaching for the manual acuity chart projector and noticing it, too, is placed so high that you have to tip toe to reach it.
No it isn’t fair for the height-challenged doctor (HCD). And you think that if you had to raise your hands above your head to do things day in and day out, you’re going to ache somewhere. You just wished that someone in optometry school would have told you all of the hints and tips to get the working environment fitted to your needs and not someone who is 6’2″ tall. Here are my 5 tips for the HCD.
- The paper chart holders – In offices where paper charts still persist, look to see where the chart holder is. If it is too high, ask the staff if a small stool can be brought over and be positioned next to the door. It’s a lot easier than raising your hands above your shoulders to remove the charts.
- Manual acuity projector charts – If the office has them, and they are too high, I tend to show four lines of acuity letters from 20/40 to 20/20. This reduces significantly the number of times I have to adjust the slide mechanism. Hopefully, an automated acuity chart that is remotely controlled would be available.
- The slit lamp and phoropter arms may also be set too high. Note the height before your first patient because adjusting to it or commenting may take time away from the appointment. If the office has a handheld slit lamp, this may be ideal especially if you can reseat the patient into a more traditional chair (a la reception room chair). This lowers the patient to a more comfortable level.
- Keyboards for computers may be on sliding trays or on stands with casters. if they are too high (meaning the hands are above the elbow, then a small step stool may solve this. Or find a terminal that is situated on a more traditional desk.
- Trial contact lenses are sometimes housed in customized cabinets or trays. Check this out before your first diagnostic contact lens fitting. If the most used parameters are above your eye level, locate a step stool or relocate the tray for better access.
In summary, being a HCD should not be a struggle. It takes a slight adjustment of the physical environment and most doctors’ offices are pleased to accommodate the preferences of any doctor. Therefore, don’t hesitate to ask for changes to the work environment if it doesn’t suit your needs.