Life as a New Optometrist – Courtney Dryer O.D.

Courtney Dryer is a 2011 graduate of SCO. She opened 4 Eyes Optometry cold in her hometown of Charlotte, NC in February of 2013. She enjoys DIY projects, marathoning TV shows, and traveling in her free time.

courtney dryer O.D

The Bucket List Before Your First Day of Practice

My pre-practice bucket list consisted of passing North Carolina boards, and deciding how and where I wanted to practice Optometry.  I think before you start practicing as a new optometrist, you should “chart a course” for yourself.  Make a list of what you have to offer the practice you are about to join. Where do you see yourself in 5 years within the profession?  How does this practice or job help you to obtain those goals?  Does your contract contain a non-compete that would limit your future abilities?

Your biggest challenge after graduation

The unknown behind each door. I disliked emergency visits because my fear was that I would not know the condition the patient had or would not treat it in the best way. If you’re not sure, have the patient follow-up sooner or refer out. Don’t try to be a superhero. As a new optometrist, patients appreciate your honesty in saying, “If I was you, I would want a corneal/retinal/plastics specialist to look at my eyes.”

Your biggest challenge in first year of practice

For me, it was inter-office relationships that I found most difficult. Staff sees the new optometrist differently than the senior OD. When new grads become associate doctors they automatically assume a certain level of authority in office hierarchy. Other colleagues and I have found this to be a point of contention with older office managers. I made sure to approach the relationship with respect, and to ask questions. No one knows your office and patients like they do.

The hardest part about acclimating to experienced / senior ODs

I think, and then I do. I’m constantly trying to come up with new ideas on how to make things better, and how to implement them. As a new optometrist, you are likely to come into practices armed with new ideas, excitement, and ambition. I found that senior ODs are reluctant to change, and you have to approach change slowly and one idea at a time. Forgo showing up day 1 with a 100 item to-do list, at least keep that hidden until week two.

The most challenging thing about building a patient base

Giving it time. Building a personal relationship with each patient takes time. You earn their trust and confidence in you, and they will send their friends and family.

The hardest part of your day

Breaking the news to a patient that an ocular disease process is the reason for their diminished vision and is not something new glasses can correct.

Courtney’s Profile

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About Courtney Dryer

Courtney Dryer
Courtney Dryer is a 2011 graduate of SCO. She opened 4 Eyes Optometry in her hometown of Charlotte, NC in February of 2013. After 5 years, the practice name was changed to Autarchic Spec Shop to renew the practice's commitment to independent optometry. In addition to consulting with new graduate optometrists on start-up practices, she contributes regularly to New Grad Optometry and has guest blogged for Invision Magazine. The unique design of her boutique practice was featured in Women in Optometry. In 2015, Vision Monday named her a Rising Star, and one of the most influential women in optical.

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