New Optometry Grads Should Be More Like Taylor Swift

I bet you never thought you would read anything that involved Taylor Swift and optometry in the same sentence. For those that know me, it’s no secret that I’m a big Taylor Swift fan. No matter your thoughts on her vocal abilities and her cat-craze, you have to admire her success. The reasons for Taylor’s success are the same as every new graduate’s success, and the success of optometry as a profession.

1. Be Persistent

Before she had a record deal, Taylor would run to all the recording labels in Nashville to drop off her demo. She wouldn’t take no for an answer until someone said yes. She turned down a label that would not let her make her own music, instead hunting until she found one who believed in her vision. In optometry, you must be persistent. You must be ambitious. It’s not a profession for those on cruise control. We are the future of optometry and must be persistent in expanding our scope of practice, taking over-stepping third party payers to court, and educating the public on the capabilities of optometrists as primary care providers.

2. Dream Big

If a 15-year-old girl from a Christmas tree farm could become a multi-platinum recording artist, then what is stopping you? Is it student loans? Is it job security? Is it the fear of failure? With the changes in healthcare and insurance reimbursements, we as new graduates must think bigger then the optometrists of the last 30 years.

We face many challenges, but the biggest limitation is ourselves.

3. Be “Fearless”

Taylor moved to Nashville and started writing songs at the age of 14.  She’s been heavily criticized by the music industry for not fitting into a music category, pop or country. She has been bashed for her celebrity romances, and embarrassed by celebrities who find her undeserving of her Grammy Awards. She has instead chosen to be fearless and funnel her energy into propelling her career forward with hit songs like Mean. All ODs attend the same optometry schools and we all received the same degree. What will set new graduates apart from one another is their fearlessness. We can’t be afraid of online glasses sales or online eye exams. We must be “fearless” in knowing who we are as optometrists, and confident in our abilities to provide enhanced care and innovative solutions. I am disappointed that optometrists allowed these third party payers to dictate to doctors what we can or cannot do. We want to leave optometry better for the next generation of ODs. We need to be front and center in the protection of our profession against entities like Opternative and insurance companies.

4. Stay In Touch With Your “Fan Base”

No one can argue that the primary reason for Taylor’s success is that she stays connected to her base. She knows who her songs are for and how to stay connected to them. The further you get from graduation, the less connected you will feel to colleagues, current treatment methods, and cutting edge advancements. Make the commitment now to stay connected. No optometrist should be an island. Stay in touch with the optometric community, technologies, and current political issues by joining the AOA, your state society, and your region society. Furthermore, you must be in touch with the pulse of your office. How do your patients feel about your staff? If they had to describe your office or your eyecare in one word, what would they use? Are you meeting the needs of your patients with the best technology? Are you offering what they are asking for regarding frame selection? Build yourself a “fan base.”photo

5. Do It Your Way / “Do Whatever You Want”

Taylor Swift has creative control of everything. From her tour sets to costumes, she has final say. The best part about independent optometry is the freedom to do things your way, and in the way that is best for your patients. There is no one else telling you when to work or how to practice. You make the rules. In corporate optometry, you will never have complete autonomy to practice your way. I hope our profession does not go in the way of Pharmacy where private practitioners are very few in number or may be non-existent in some areas. While there are smart, talented ODs who work in corporate optometry, there is no doubt private practice is best for patient care.

6. Every Patient Encounter Is A “Performance”

Whether we like it or not, as doctors, we are judged by our performance, the appearance of our practice, and the knowledge and courtesy of our staff. Does the patient like your personality? Do they like your conversation style? Were you able to connect with them? As a new graduate, you want every part of your performance to be perfect.  You want to create an optometric experience. The best thing we hear at 4 Eyes is “this is the best eye doctor visit that I’ve ever had.”

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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