Theme: Imparting soft skills to AOP trainees

Author: Harinikrishna, Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai

Soft skills are very important in workplace as they help the employees to fully utilise their clinical skills, work well with team members and create a positive work environment. For AOPs, the most needed soft skills are effective communication, conflict management & resolution, time management and leadership skills. The 70:20:10 development model is the most effective in not only building these skills, but also in retaining the learning. 70% of their upskilling will come from challenging real experiences on the job; 20 % learning from others and 10% from formal coursework and training. Building self-awareness for our MLOPs on their strengths and areas of development with help us focus on the right skills to develop. Mentor circles can be an effective intervention to learn from others especially for conflict resolution. Role plays can be used to create real time scenarios to practice & learn communication skills with patients and colleagues. Job shadowing is also an effective learning tool where one can learn organization and time management and improve their communication skills by closely observing a senior employee in real time. Through these interventions AOPs will be able to effectively learn and practice these soft skills.

Author: Shobha Mocherla, L V Prasad Eye Institute

Working at the Centre of Excellence of an eye institute gives opportunities to provide training in soft skills to a range of allied ophthalmic personnel – junior eye doctors, fellow doctors, optometrists, to vision technicians, ophthalmic technicians, and ophthalmic nurse assistants. One may be in Training, Learning and Development, Mentorship, Communications or other wing of the Education Centre of a teaching eye hospital. While joining a formal training programme, or learning (by observing and listening) and doing on one’s own help newcomers, re-training with a refresher training and orientation course prevent senior staff from becoming jaded.
A core team from human resource development, clinical skills, front office Patient Care and communications worked on the syllabus for soft skills for new recruits. With the modern workplace requiring skills in language and communication, developing a sportive attitude, and working in teams, some games and role-play too were included along with the theory, as a smart way to impart training in a busy medical centre. Multilingual face-to-face and online classes helped trainees during settling-in and transitioning to implementing these skills.
Values Training can be challenging for new trainers, but recounting instances and linking these occurrences to the standards held high across generations can be illustrative and make listening, understanding and imbibing quite engaging for trainees. Listening and understanding helps trainees to move into tough routines after completing the training. It supports trainees’ transition from a home- or college-bound life to the discipline required in patient care services. Peppering training time with indoor and outdoor games offers trainees a sportive way of participating and playing along with known or unknown others, equipping them with a surer technique of targeting and reaching goals.
The training methods that we successfully adopted during acculturation of new recruits to the values of the institute are presented here.

Author: K.Poongothai, Aravind Eye Hospital

In our Paediatric OPD, we see various age groups with numerous range of diagnosis. Also the number of people waiting for standardized , quality care is double in comparison to other OPDs, since we cater not only to the children but also their parents. To ensure orderly flow of patients, our senior sister and coordinator have been following segregation plan with guidance from senior doctors.
We receive children ranging from neonatal age upto 15 yrs. To begin with, children undergo nutritional assessment,HT,WT and BMI.First point of contact is the reception area where an OPD sister will triage the cases. Route slips are color coded on the basis of time of arrival, Emergency cases and infants route slips also are given specific color. She divides all the cases in 3 categories: Infants,specialchildren, and emergency cases. Those cases are immediately speed tracked for vision assessment and refraction and subsequently kept for doctor evaluation.
Triage sister will enquire regarding attending complaints and categorise them as per the diagnosis.Each category is shunted for a battery of investigations pertaining to the diagnoses; Example paediatric cataract cases who undergo doctor evaluation , IOP and A- Scan are given dilatation drops and then sent for B scan. They come back for final evaluation and cataract surgery counselling. Adults with squint and diplopia undergo squint evaluation and Hess & Diplopia charting depending upon orthoptist evaluation/ as suggested by opinion received from a paediatric ophthal doctor . We continue to train each posted batch of MLOPs in triaging paediatric patients, prompt counselling regarding eye condition and above all identifying and ensuring easy flow of vulnerable patients. We believe it strengthens their understanding of efficient work flow, sensitive handling of paediatric patients and ultimately teaches them value of patient’s and caregiver’s time.

Author: Sangeetha V, Aravind Eye Hospital, Chennai

The technique of imparting soft skills to the Mid-level ophthalmic trainees is essential. Apart from acquiring clinical knowledge, the technique of performing a procedure, the knack of dealing with a patient and addressing their concerns is also important. For this purpose, the best way to learn is to emulate our seniors, and practice it like a movie dialogue, i.e “SCRIPTING”. It would be better when the patient is told in a polite and detailed way about what is going to happen rather than suddenly surprising them by poking a needle inside the eye. On the day of surgery, the patient is ready to be brought inside the operation theatre, leaving their attender in the waiting room. The apprehension they face can be eased by effective and empathetic communication. We are sharing a snippet of this script.

PATIENT: Please tell me will I have any pain while operation, as you are using only eye drops

SISTER: No. You will not have any pain, but you will feel the sensation of touch, dripping of water and you will hear some machinery sound. Kindly stay calm, there is nothing to fear. If you have any complaints or discomfort, kindly speak directly. You must not lift your hand near your eye. The eye will be covered with a clean cloth and in case you touch it, it could get infected.

PATIENT: What should I do if I have pain inside the operation theatre?

SISTER: Then you should inform the doctor/ sister immediately and we can apply anaesthetic drops inside the theatre or give an injection if excess pain. This will enable the patients to have a satisfied and comfortable hospital experience. Soft skills are as important as the procedure itself. It helps us retain humanity, which is a very important part of health care.

Author: G. Jeyakohila, Aravind eye care system, Madurai


To explain effective teaching methodology that was used to impart soft skills to students in uvea department in our institute to improve their personality trait.


The soft skills to which importance given were communication skills, team work, attitude, problem solving, empathy, time management. It was achieved through teaching, role modelling, role plays and discussion of real life scenarios.
Uvea department usually caters to patients who have long term systemic infectious / inflammatory condition with associated ocular inflammation. Explaining clinical picture with empathy and need for long term treatment with emphasis to patients and improving their compliance plays an important role in treatment outcome.
The examples of the same will be discussed with scenario in PowerPoint.


Analysis is made through patient feedback and routine discussions regarding improvement in their personality traits.


It is not only the medical knowledge that is important to handle patients, but also soft skills which will help to attend to them efficiently.

Author: R.A. Ramalakshmi, Aravind Eye Hospital, Tirunelveli


To teach and assess the counselling skills among AOP learners towards patients planned for intra vitreal injections


Developing soft skills among AOPs in the area of counselling like cost of various intra vitreal injections, need of repeated injections (or) need of future surgeries


  1. Imparting theoretical knowledge about the types of intravitreal injections, method of administration, Outcomes ; Side effects (of some intra vitreal injections)
  2. Demo video : The Aop Learners are made aware of the procedure intra vitreal injections by showing them pre recorded videos which help them explain the patient about the procedure in detail and develop conversational skills.
  3. Role play : Involving AOP learners in role play which help them learn proper conversational skills, we conducted mock drills to make them understand the queries of the patient and how to answer them.
    Special cases to be given to the physically disabled patients.

Observing senior AOPs during their counselling session , Giving the AOP Trainers opportunity to learn from the AOP Trainers during counselling and to get them know about the various ways of counselling in different causes / diagnosis.

To teach the AOP Learners with the help of skill sheets and case scenarios.

To give assignments for AOP trainers in the form of powerpoint presentation and chart work to enhance learning.


We found that observing the AOP Trainers while counselling and teaching with skill sheets and case scenarios were better and more effective methods for Training purpose.


Proper training of counselling AOPs leads to better acceptance level among patients, increase the patient cooperation and satisfaction this ensure that the skill of counselling is passed on effectively to the AOP Learners

Author: Henry Chidiebere Ogechukwu, Centre For Sight Africa, Nkpor, Anambra State, Nigeria

Soft skills are basically key human qualities that one must have in order to interact harmoniously and effectively with other people. They are essential for maximum productivity in every sphere of endeavor. In Ophthalmic care, they enable the physicians and ophthalmic assistants to build a rapport with their patients regardless of their present conditions. However, there is a huge gap, when these skills are absent among the allied Ophthalmic personnel, who work directly with the doctors. In other words, the communication process becomes challenging for the doctors who need the presence of the AOP to clearly amplify their thoughts or impressions to the patients and their families as when necessary.

This study is aimed at strategic ways to impart soft skills in allied ophthalmic personnel to facilitate quality eye care results.

This research uses quantitative and experimental methods. This study was conducted at a specialist eye hospital in Nigeria known as Centre For Sight Africa, Nkpor, Anambra State. They underwent certain soft skills acquisition measures such as: lectures, volunteering, mentorship and participating in research study.

After a considerable amount of time, the given participants were able to significantly exhibit highly improved communication skills as opposed to how it used to be. The patients and their families now have clarity about their eye conditions, when they AOPs get to explain it to them.

The presence of soft skills in ophthalmic care highly contributes to the quality of services rendered to patients. Trainees are encouraged keep developing themselves in order to be more valuable at work.

Author: Renuga,  Aravind Eye Hospital, Chennai

Success in eye care requires more than clinical knowledge and technical skills. The success of service delivery in an eye hospital also depends on “soft skills” of the allied ophthalmic personnel, which are skills related to emotional intelligence, interpersonal communication, social skills, and general attitudes. Developing soft skills in the workforce can be a special challenge, since it often requires adjusting the existing culture of the workplace. Steps to impart soft skills to the allied ophthalmic personnel are

Step 1: Demonstrate relevance- by sharing feedback from patients.

Step 2: Evaluate the group’s existing soft skills- 360 degree feedback.

Step 3: Encourage a growth mindset by self-assessment and personality development

Step 4: To train allied ophthalmic personnel on soft skills- coaching/mentoring, online learning, live interactive workshops using Thalir Thiran Thittam (TTT) and peer (social) learning.

Step 5: Recognize & reward progress based on reassessment and feedback. The trainee MLOPs will undergo this soft skill training, so that they are moulded earlier to display optimal social skill and general attitude.

Investing in soft skills training leads to more efficient, effective eye care teams and is well worth the reward for patients, employees, and employers.

Author: Rajakumari, Aravind Eye Hospital, Coimbatore


Soft skills sessions are character building interventions as well as life lessons for Allied Ophthalmic Personnel. This refinement gives completeness and shapes them both internally and externally not only for career but also for life.
Participants need to have an ownership in learning through participative approach.

To be absorbent of the knowledge, the learner has to be consciously aware of here and now. To make them available for here and now, their mind has to be alert, aware and awaken. This is made possible through the methods of Taichi, Transactional Analysis and Neuro Science.


I use a technique in Taichi which is Grounding, rooting and Centering to bring the participants to here and now (Transactional Analysis). The input that you want to give it to the participants is reachable now. The new learning keeps the chemical agent alive to learn more. The electrical impulses are powered (Neuro Science) to listen and explore along with the trainer.

Participants need to have a wilful participation so that their learning is concrete. Validating their capacity of internalization enriches their knowledge. Their learning is holistic through reflections/ assimilation of ideas and activities.


Psychological permission is given to them to be themselves, to think differently and adopt individual learning methods. Each and everyone’s capacity is acknowledged, and appreciated. The participants psyche is prepared to receive and give infinite information since they are not limited by conditional expectations. Trainees are transparent to exchange their ideas, opinions and emotions. This results in authenticity and transformation of self, ultimately results in training effectiveness.


Trainees are empowered to learn new skills and techniques through internalization of experiences. Integration of ideas, skills and experience helps them consolidate long lasting learning. This builds the inner structure of personality and a base for further learning.