Up close with Dr. Irina Nikoloska Petroska
„Empathy and understanding are paramount to building positive patient experiences”
- Sistina Ophthalmology is the only private eye hospital, which has diagnostic centers in several cities in the country. You run the Diagnostic Center in Tetovo. What does this engagement mean?
Managing the Diagnostic Center in Tetovo is a great professional challenge for me, primarily because I work with an outstanding medical team, in which everyone contributes to the success of the hospital. The operation of the Diagnostic Center in Tetovo, as well as the other centers, is in accordance with our philosophy, according to which our patients always come first. In this way, the medical care we provide is close to the patient’s home, we provide easier access to medical services and greater comfort during treatment.
- What types of examinations are performed at the Diagnostic Center in Tetovo?
We perform various types of ophthalmological examinations for adults and children. We are equipped with modern equipment, which allows us to successfully diagnose eye diseases and treat them conservatively. We have Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), a technology that visualizes the back of the eye, the optic nerve and the macula. In this way, we get an in vivo view of the state of these structures, as well as the possibility of permanently monitoring changes in this part of the eye. This is important, because modern therapeutic approaches provide the opportunity to treat diseases and conditions that were not treatable until recently. More complex diagnostic procedures and operations are performed at Sistina Ophthalmology in Skopje. At the Diagnostic Center in Tetovo, we plan and prepare for possible surgery, as well as post-operative follow-up. A prerequisite for successful treatment is daily communication between colleagues. Our goal is common: satisfied patients and more positive experiences.
- You have been working in medicine for almost two decades, part of which in primary care, part in public secondary health care. Does that experience help you further in your career and in building positive patient experiences?
Sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zone and embrace change. It is a way to progress and realize ourselves fully. Now, I have the opportunity to do what I love in the best possible way.
All experiences with patients are precious to me. Regardless of the field of healthcare, the dedication of the doctor and the desire to help the patient is important. On the other hand, when you know how the different segments of the healthcare system work, you can more easily organize work and assess patient expectations. Working conditions and services may vary, but understanding patient needs and empathy are the most important prerequisites for positive patient experiences.
- How do you approach your patients when you need to make a diagnosis?
I think the holistic approach in medical care is the best. The patient should be approached as a special individual and attention should be paid to the physical, psychological and spiritual dimensions of his illness. His needs and expectations should be fully taken into account. To achieve this, the doctor must show empathy and understanding of the patient’s condition. The most important thing for me is to build a relationship of trust with the patients. Then, they accept the disease more easily, we plan the treatment together and we can be sure that the patient will adhere to it.
The relationship between the patient and the doctor is strengthened, through the support the doctor gives him during the treatment, the way he explains the dilemmas he is facing, and the possibility for the patient to feel safe and secure.
- What do you do in your spare time?
I spend most of my free time with my family. Of course, I also find time for coffee with my friends, for a good series, a theater performance or a rock concert, whenever there is an opportunity for it. I love to read a lot, and I read, everyday. Simply, the most effective vacation for me is to immerse myself in a good, inspiring book. I have to admit, that even though I love technology, I love books in their original, paper form…when I can smell them.
- Can you recommend us a book?
I’ve been reading Haruki Murakami lately. I particularly liked his book – “What I talk about when I talk about running” – as a kind of metaphor for life. In it you can learn about perseverance and how to establish your inner peace in the face of dynamic everyday life.
- How do you take care of your mental and physical well-being?
Apart from the stationary bike, which I know how to find time in the day, I’m not much of a sports guy. Since I live in a small town, I try to walk instead of using a car. I am very careful to eat balanced and home-cooked food, in which my husband is my main mentor. I am happy that these healthy eating habits have been accepted by my children. I don’t think that rigidly following protocols and diets is very effective. I prefer to listen to the needs of the body and thus establish my own balance.
I think mental well-being is very important, and I maintain it with my positive attitude towards life.