Managing Expectations – Challenges Facing the Millennial Generation of New ODs

If you were born between the 1980s to the early 2000s, then you are considered part of Generation Y – also known as the Millennial Generation. If you Google “the millennial generation”, you’ll find a broad definition of a “millennial”.

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to run across articles describing the millennials’ as entitled, lazy, over-confident and out of touch with reality.

Whether this reputation is right or wrong is obviously subjective and up for debate. However, the importance of keeping your career and life expectations within reach is one viewpoint I do agree with. In our social media obsessed world, this can be challenging.

Below are my opinions on a few unforeseen obstacles new ODs are facing and how to maintain a positive attitude about the future:

Exaggerated expectations set by school presenters

Ever attended a guest lecture where the speaker painted a flawless picture of their practice life? High incomes, flexible hours, packed schedules, no competition and the freedom to practice where and however you like, right? While some elements of this may be true, the indisputable reality is that far too many new graduates begin their careers with inflated expectations.

Let’s set the record straight. As the new doc on the block, you probably will have to be more flexible than you imagined. Working weekends, juggling multiple jobs, accepting a lower than anticipated salary, being on call and practicing with limited technology are all things you should be prepared for.

Furthermore, your student loan debt might lead you to accept an opportunity you weren’t envisioning. To be completely honest, this is OK! Patience is becoming a rare trait in our “what can you do for me right now” society. The phrase “Rome wasn’t built in one day” is something I live by. Great things take time and hard work to develop. Embrace the growing pains, keep a positive attitude and set goals for the future!

Uncertainty of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Anyone who claims to know exactly how the ACA will impact optometry is being deceitful.

The truth is, not even those responsible on the federal level can predict the future of healthcare. In my opinion, the American Optometric Association (AOA) has provided the most up to date news and information on how the ACA will directly affect optometrists. One thing is for sure, health care, as we know it, will continue to change.

As a new OD, this isn’t how you anticipated your the start of your career. Although change is unsettling, look on the bright side. As millennials, we have notoriously adapted to technological advances remarkably well. Electronic health records (EHR), e-prescribing, cloud based infrastructure, online marketing and new systems may scare the daylights out of the seasoned practitioner…but not us!

We are part of a generation that is equipped to handle these changes with flying colors.

Declining insurance reimbursements

It’s no secret, insurance companies are always looking for excuses to cut cost. As a result, their reimbursements have slowly declined year after year. While this is an unfortunate trend, many doctors find themselves pursuing new ways to improve their bottom line.

As new ODs, we have extensive knowledge and experience with the treatment and management of ocular disease. We’re trained to fit specialty contact lenses as well as evaluate binocular and low vision disorders. Seek out a unique niche in one or more of these areas and you’ll find these services are often not fully covered by insurance – improving your bottom line.

Having a unique specialty makes you more marketable and may bring more fulfillment to your practice life.

Stiff competition

Not a new concept, competition is what drives innovation in all industries. Big box corporations have already established their presence in the eye care industry while the latest competitors are being found online.

Let’s face it, online retailers like Warby Parker, 1800Contacts and aren’t going anywhere. Honestly, does this surprise you?  Adapt with the times or become extinct. As a technologically savvy generation, we understand why this is occurring. With the touch of a button, buying products online is easy, saves time and is often less expensive.

However, we have the opportunity to implement innovative concepts and systems to better accommodate our patients. With the growing demand and convenience of online purchasing, I encourage you to embrace the challenge and find unique ways to better serve your patients specific eye care needs.

Embrace the challenge.

Millennials are going to make a huge impact on the world as we know it. We have the opportunity to prove the naysayers wrong. Five…ten…twenty years from now, the eye care industry will be completely different! Adjust with the times, stay optimistic and hopefully you’ll find yourself ahead of the curve. Are you up for the challenge? I certainly hope so.

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About Ryan Corte O.D.

Ryan Corte O.D.

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