Matt Geller is currently an optometrist in San Diego, California. He is also the Founder & President of NewGradOptometry.com and Founder of OptometryStudents.com.
Matt created NewGradOptometry.com to give new graduates the opportunity to use their talent and creativity to change optometry for the better.
The Bucket List Before Your First Day of Practice
I am happy with the way I lived my months before practice! For me, moving out to San Diego was very costly, so taking a vacation wasn’t worth it. I probably spent about $3,000 – $4,000 on the move alone, but it was worth every penny. From the “fun side of things” I would say – hang out with old friends, have fun and party, spend time with family and take a mini vacation. On the professional side – talk with mentors prior to getting into your first day and ask for their advice, be confident and be prepared, and consider picking up a book like As a Man Thinketh (a great book about the power of thought). You have a long journey ahead of you so mental preparation is key!
Your biggest challenge after graduation
The shock of being an OD is pretty huge. First you go numb, then it hits you. After graduation, you need to exhibit self restrain in terms of spending and becoming too laid back. For one, don’t go and spend like crazy – I did this exactly and now I am facing the consequences of playing catch up. It is super important to reward yourself, but there is no need to overspend. Also keep in mind that the OD who decides to rest on their laurels and become complacent will not be successful. If you want the money and success, you better become active in anyway possible. New grads think because they are now a doctor that they can just chill… How about NO.
Your biggest challenge in your first year of practice
My biggest challenge was getting used to life as an optometrist. Making clinical decisions all on my own was not easy, especially while trying to keep on schedule. Another huge challenge is bringing patients into the practice. Suddenly life changes from “someone is handling my schedule for me” to “I better get out on the streets to market myself”. There isn’t a day that passes that I am not actively promoting the practice. I attend clubs, meet ups, give out business cards and go around to local businesses – anything I can do to bring in new business.
The hardest part about acclimating to experienced / senior ODs
Trying to show them how much you care. It is easy to work your butt off and make positive change, but don’t cross the line. Senior ODs like the way they run the show and while they are open to change, you shouldn’t move too fast. Also, make sure you meet with them weekly. I can’t stress enough how important communication is. You need to pay attention to what your senior OD wants you to focus on. Other than that, not much else matters.
The most challenging thing about building a patient base
Getting traction. I am currently pursuing literally 30 different ways of bringing new patients in and my capture rate is probably around 1%. Do you now how frustrating that is? Patients trickle in so slowly and this can be discouraging. You need to act like a sales person and really push yourself and your practice when you are outside of business hours.
The hardest part of your day
The hardest part is looking at the collected money for the day and realizing that you are not hitting your goals. Everything is fun and fulfilling throughout the day, but when you close the books and look at the billed and collected amounts, your expression can change very quickly. I love my patients and I love optometry, but if you are not making enough money to pay the bills, then you threaten both. It is important to be pushing the bar and working hard to hit your numbers.