Does it really take 10,000 operations to be an expert?

Mr Glenn Carp at London Vision Clinic

There’s an idea that’s long circulated the space of self-mastery and professional development about what it takes to become an official, bonified ‘expert’.

The idea came out of a 1993 paper by Dr Anders Ericsson, in which he suggested that through committing 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, you can become an expert in almost any subject or field.

Ericsson’s research picked up traction after it appeared in Talent is Overrated, a book which flipped the idea of inborn talents and natural ability on its head and offered a more attainable roadmap to mastery. Through his calculations, Dr. Ericsson had reduced mastery to a chunk of time, or, more precisely, twenty hours for fifty weeks a year for ten years.

Ericsson’s research highlighted some important things, but his idea that expertise can be boiled down to a few thousand hours of hard graft is, as many other experts have now shown, nothing more than a nice idea.

The reality is there’s a whole bunch of other factors that come into it — intelligence, specialist training, your team, support networks, access to tools and resources. These factors greatly influence the number of hours, games, operations — whatever the unit of measurement — it takes to reach the level at which you’re considered an expert.

So, what does it take to become an expert in Laser Eye Surgery?

A good example of this is the field of Laser Eye Surgery. Simply by visiting a few high street providers and independent clinics you’ll find a huge difference in the quality and experience of surgeons.

Due to the way in which the industry is regulated, to perform Laser Eye Surgery, no specialist qualifications or training is necessary. Thus any doctor registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) with any amount of experience is legally permitted to look after you. This makes it paramount for patients to know what to ask and hat to look for in a surgeon before making a decision.

Here are five things to consider when assessing the experience, credentials, and suitability of a laser eye surgeon:

  • How long have you been practising Laser Eye Surgery and how often do you perform surgeries? The longer they have been practising the better, with a minimum of 2 years being acceptable. A surgeon should also be performing surgery on a regular basis — 300 or more a year is a good standard benchmark.
  • Do you specialise in a specific treatment and perform this on a full time basis? Depending on the treatment you are having, for example, LASIK, ReLEx SMILE, or PRESBYOND® Laser Blended Vision, you should look for a surgeon who has a good amount of experience in that area.
  • Have you had formal refractive surgery training? And are you a trained corneal specialist? Although it is not mandatory to undergo specialist training, the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) run a course, set out to the guidelines of the General Medical Council (GMC), which they recommend Laser Eye Surgeons to complete as an essential part of their development.
  • Can I see your results and safety records for patients with a similar prescription? Here you will find out how many people achieve 20:20 vision (look for 90 percent plus), the rate at which complications occur, and how many patients subsequently require an enhancement or touch up procedure.
  • Are you accessible if I have any concerns and do you have an aftercare regime? Many good surgeons will be on hand to meet or speak with you should you have any worries or queries following your surgery.

If you’re in doubt about which surgeon to choose, then you probably haven’t found the right one yet. Usually, when you find a surgeon with excellent credentials and experience, they’re also supported by word of mouth, hundreds of independent reviews, and of course, your gut instinct. It’s all of these factors, not just the number of operations, that combine to make a true expert laser eye surgeon.

If you’d like to book a consultation with us or find out more about our laser eye surgeons, leave us a comment or give us a call us on 020 7224 1005.