Make Private Practice Optometry Great Again

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Make Private Practice Optometry Great Again.

I use this slogan facetiously, but yet there is an element of truth.

Anyone who has had even a 5 year career in optometry will tell you our profession has changed.

A number of factors are causing the shift from private practice to corporate optometry including escalating student loans, increase in the number of OD school graduates, and overall industry shifts towards box chain optometry.

Having worked in both modes, optometry students to need to know and recognize the many benefits of private practice that corporate optometry will never give to you.

It’s up to millennial optometrists to make private practice optometry great again.

1) Freedom

Private practice optometry provides you with the greatest lifestyle freedom.

The ability to set your own schedule, take off as needed, and spend holidays with your family. As long as you work corporate optometry, a store manager or corporate leadership will have some say in when and how you work.

Weekends, holidays, extended hours…if you don’t make them happy, you can lose your lease.

They will find someone else to replace you who will meet their demands.

2) Quality of Life

Most of us became optometrists because we are highly driven people who want to improve the lives of our patients, but maintain a balanced lifestyle.

We may have opted for optometry school over medical school for long-term satisfaction. Our job and job status can have an enormous impact on our quality of life. Is your job allowing you do do the things you find important?

3) Control

Do you need to be in control of your achievement?

Having worked corporate, there is truly a limit on what you are able to control.

At some point, your financial gain will plateau and you will be limited on your scope of practice. You will be pressured to see so many patients an hour or to sell a certain amount of glasses per day. You will be pressured to have your staff come in on the holidays.

4) Contentment

We worked hard for the degrees we earned.

Are we going to be happy being told how to practice optometry by a store manager who has no concept of healthcare nor has earned the privilege of an optometric license?

Will you be happy giving up your weekends for their big promotional sales? Do you really believe your four year optometric degree is only worth a $85 dollar or free with the purchase of glasses eye exam?

Did you put in hours of studying to charge $35 for the liability of removing a foreign body from the eye?

The scope of our profession has been expanded by private practice optometry. Our ability to use therapeutic and in some states, lasers, is built on that mode of practice.

How do we make private practice optometry great again?

1) Hand pick your vision plans.

Don’t accept everything. Begin the transition to cash pay by informing your patients that insurance is really “pre-paid benefits.”

2) Work only with companies and labs that truly are independent.

Do your research in this regard. Many companies use the “for the independent,” but pitch the same line to commercial retailers. Be active in letting your representatives knows where you stand.

3) Educate each patient on your capabilities as an optometrist.

Educate them on the importance of an “eye health exam.” Present information on the systemic effects of Hypertension, Diabetes, and other conditions on the eye.

4) Contact lens and glasses education.

We all know patient’s view contacts as a commodity. We must educate on technology and how contact lenses affect the health of the eye.

Avoid putting your patients in the same lenses year after year. Take the time to ask the right questions.

Is there anything you don’t like about your lenses?

Anything I can improve?

Are you interested in new technology?

We must also take the time to educate our staff on products. They must be able to clearly articulate what sets your lenses, lens treatments, lens technologies, and frames apart from your competition. Each patient needs to understand that buying glasses is not always apples to apples.

What things do you think need to change in order to make private practice great again? How are you addressing these things with your patients?

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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