Article Date: 6/1/2014

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Advice for Young Me: Part 1

Here are four pieces of advice for my younger self.


This month’s “Practice Profile” is the first in a series on what optometrists wish they knew as novice O.D.s. The series will continue in the July issue.

We’ve all lamented: “If only I knew then what I know now.” If I could have a conversation with my younger self, I’d give him four pieces of advice:

1 Love your job.

To be a successful practitioner, you must have a real affinity for what you do on a daily basis. When you practice what you love, your patients recognize your genuine passion for their betterment. If you appreciate the medical model, don’t work in a retail chain because the money is good. Similarly, if you are fond of fitting contact lenses, don’t accept a job in an O.D./M.D. surgical clinic because of the prestige of that title/organization. And, if you enjoy working with children, find a pediatric practice, or start your own. Be honest with yourself, and specify the type of eye care you want to provide.

I started my career in various optical chains and figured out fast that I wanted to cultivate a private practice where I could create strong, long-term relationships.

“Jeremy, congratulations on your graduation from optometry school! I am you in the future, and I’ve got some advice for you.”

2 Focus on your skills.

You have certain core strengths. Some tasks just aren’t compatible with your brain type or personality. Accept this. Recognize what you do well, and shine in that category. For those disciplines of personal weakness, hire competent professionals, and let them excel in those areas for you.

I learned early on to get out of my own way for my business to become successful.

3 Have a system of checks and balances.

In business, the potential for a partnership, vendor relationship or key staff member to go awry is a possibility. As a result, protect yourself with your current relationships while maintaining back-up relationships. Internally, make sure every station that has checkpoints is never one person’s sole responsibility. For example, the person who makes the deposits should never be the person who balances the books. Having a replacement “on deck” provides security while also keeping your current relationships honest: They know you have a quick replacement if they do something poorly advised.

Never trust blindly that everyone who claims to be a strategic partner for your business has the same standards, values and work ethic that you demand of yourself and your relationships.

When I was new to business, I naively thought that most vendors wanted “true” business partnerships in that we would help grow each other’s businesses. The sad reality was most wanted simply a transactional relationship, and not a working partnership. Trust your gut, and remember this: No one cares as much about your business as you do.

4 Surround yourself with “A” people.

Your staff reflects you. In fact, they are the first representation of your practice patients see. As a result, they must have the same passion for patient care as you do. In addition, they must share your positive attitude and work ethic.

Surround yourself with only “A” players, or prepare to lose patients. OM


Optometric Management, Volume: 49 , Issue: June 2014, page(s): 68