Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?
Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?
Considerations when deciding to practice locally or branch out
By Ashley Kamann, OD
There are many options available to you in terms of practice location. Before making this major life choice, think about the reasons to stay in your area versus the reasons to relocate.
Staying Close to Home
1. You’re known. If an established optometrist is looking for a new associate, a hometown kid is likely to be an attractive candidate. Not only will you attract new patients, you’ll be recognizable to established patients. Additionally, if you decide to open your own practice, you’re already known within the community, so you should bring in new patients quickly.
2. Giving back. Whether it’s through teaching, volunteering our time, or sponsoring events, we have opportunities to give back to our communities. When you practice where you grew up, it’s a chance to say thank you to those you know and make a positive professional impression on the whole community.
3. Easier to network. We all know people from the area where we grew up. Therefore, you may know someone who’s looking to take on an associate or sell a practice. You may even get a jumpstart on an available position because you know the best person to contact.
4. Understanding the community’s needs. As a local, you know the needs of the community. Use this knowledge to your advantage and find a niche in the optometry world. For example, if the area has a large elderly population, focus on geriatrics and low vision.
5. Knowledge of other professionals. Odds are you already know many physicians and specialists in your hometown. You’ll likely end up referring to many of these professionals. Also, since you’re a familiar face to your family physician, dentist, teachers and others, they’re all potential referral sources for you.
Reasons to Branch Out
1. Researching demographics. Do your own research to learn more about the areas you’re considering for relocation, so you can make an educated decision based on the needs of certain communities. General demographics and other information can help you make a more informed choice, especially if you prefer a certain specialty. For example, if you enjoy vision therapy, which is a field largely made up of pediatric patients, look for an area with many young families.
2. Increased job opportunities. With an open mind about your future location, there are many more jobs available to you. When location isn’t a top priority, you can be more selective about the practice you’re joining.
3. Find a fresh start. A new job in a new town allows you to reinvent yourself. It can be difficult for people who watched you grow up to separate the high school kid down the street from the health professional you’ve become. In a new community, you’ll be known for the professional you are today.
4. Freedom to roam. Flexibility in location will most likely be necessary if you’re interested in becoming a faculty member at an optometry school or working for industry. If you’re willing to move, it may be easier to pursue your dream job.
5. Change of scope. Since optometry is a legislated profession, our scope of work varies from state to state. Moving to states such as Oklahoma and Kentucky and passing their state boards would provide a wider scope of practice and more room to expand your horizons.
Weigh your options carefully before deciding whether it’s time to build your nest near home or fl y to parts unknown. It’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a young professional. nOD
Dr. Kamann graduated from Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry in 2009. She currently works in a primary care practice, specializing in pediatrics in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Optometric Management, Volume: , Issue: June 2013, page(s):