This is a sponsored post by National Vision, a proud supporter of NewGradOptometry & new graduate optometrists! 😎
Nicole Simon is living her best life as a recent grad working in corporate optometry.
Dr. Simon got interested in optometry after she graduated college, when she started working as a tech in an optometry practice. Now she’s an optometrist at an America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, where she finds herself not only seeing a wide range of conditions, but with the ability to make a difference in so many people’s lives.
“I’ve always been big on outreach in the community, so the fact that where I practice allows me to fulfill that part of what I’m interested is definitely very rewarding,” she says. “I also like the fact that I’m in a heavily Spanish-speaking community, so I get to brush up on my Spanish as well.”
What Dr. Simon likes the most about practicing optometry is the visible impact she makes on her patients’ lives. “I can definitely see that I’m making an impact on their lives: not just by helping them see, but by overall making their life a lot better than it was before they entered my exam room.”
“I’ve had people shout, I’ve had people cry,” she tells me. “The reactions that I get every single day are priceless!”
“I can make somebody’s day just by giving them clear vision.”
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On the variety of conditions Dr. Simon sees working in corporate optometry
“I do actually see a lot of pathology in the community that I’m practicing in, but with that, I also know that a lot of them don’t have insurance,” she says. She makes sure to reach out to all the specialty doctors in her area so she knows where she can refer her patients for continued care. “I don’t want them to think that just because I can’t help them past this point that nobody else will be able to help them.”
Since she graduated and began practicing, Dr. Simon is a lot quicker at diagnosing pathology, because she sees such a variety in her day to day practice. Many of her patients haven’t seen a primary care doctor in many years before coming in for an eye exam, so she often diagnoses conditions like diabetes and even Gardner’s syndrome.
“The area where I’ve grown the most has definitely been my confidence. I feel like because I see so many patients every day, and I encounter so many different things, I’m a lot more comfortable practicing in general,” Dr. Simon says. “And I’m grateful, because when you show confidence, it makes the patient more comfortable.”
She’s learned to trust her instincts when diagnosing patients. “I was worried about that when I first started, because all of these resources are available to us when we’re in school and on externships. But now I’m able to look into the back of the eye and say, oh, I definitely think that this is what’s going on, and to refer them to the appropriate person for treatment.” She’s come to rely on her own experience and knowledge—although she never turns down a technological assist!
Tips for new grad optometrists
Dr. Simon’s secret trick: Use the slit lamp first!
In optometry school, you’re taught to use the slit lamp after you check for refraction. But Dr. Simon realized that checking for eye health first allows her to see whether 20/20 vision is even possible.
“That saves me a lot of time on the refraction; for example, if you have a really bad cataract, I’m not going to kill myself with the refraction if 20/20 vision isn’t even possible.” She laughs: if you’re refracting, and it turns out that there’s something in the way, no wonder you can’t reach 20/20!
Why working in corporate optometry was a great choice for her first job
When Dr. Simon graduated optometry school, like everyone else, she was worried over her student loans. But her job at America’s Best gives her the opportunity to not just make an impact in her community, but enjoy her personal life outside of work as well.
As an employee, she has paid time off, which she’s taken advantage of to travel and pursue her own hobbies. This is something she definitely encourages other ODs to explore: “You’re only young once, too, so make sure that you set some time aside for your hobbies and enjoy the things that you like to do.”
“When you’re practicing in corporate optometry, all you have to do is worry about patient care,” says Dr. Simon. “You don’t have to worry about the optical side, you don’t have to worry about insurance, you only worry about your interaction between you and your patient. And when you go home at night, you clock out and leave work at work.”
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