Article Date: 7/1/2004

o.d. to o.d.
Attention Wannabes
Optometry would not be where it is today without its share of leaders and "wannabes."
BY WALTER D. WEST, O.D., F.A.A.O., Chief Optometric Editor

It's no secret that we, as optometrists, want our practices to be more than what they are. We want larger practices, we want more patients, we want to provide a higher level of service and we want to use the newest technology. We want to practice in more spacious and well-appointed facilities.

We also want to participate as providers on vision care panels that offer greater compensation for our services, materials and expertise. We want to be included, rather than be excluded, in provider panels that allow us to practice primary care optometry. We want to be recognized as the professionals that we are.

We want respect for the professional knowledge we possess. We want recognition for what we offer the healthcare industry as a whole. We want a sense of belonging and we want the self satisfaction that comes with accomplishing these things.

Who we are

We are, to a large degree, a collection of "wannabes." The term wannabe (from the more formal and less colloquial want to be) is typically used as a put down or to describe someone who is acting like something they're not. In fact, the Urban Dictionary describes Wannabe as follows:

Poser, follower, a charlatan of sorts. One who copies or imitates all or most of the aspects dealing with their idol. They may wish to have certain clothing, skills, vocabulary, etc., of their idols instead of their own. Most likely a wannabe is lacking in self confidence and is looking for guidance.

I would suggest that everyone is a wannabe to some degree, perhaps in different ways and in varying degrees. I'm a wannabe -- I want to accomplish certain things, improve skills, experience new things and go places. We all want to be something that we're not and accomplish things we haven't, but that's not a bad thing. Optometry is positioned today as a primary care profession because decades ago there were those of us who were wannabes.

Better than ever

The fact is that there are optometrists whose practices are more than they've ever been. Some optometrists' practices are larger. They have more patients and provide higher levels of service than ever. There are optometrists who use the newest technology and practice in facilities that are more spacious and well appointed.

Many optometrists participate as providers on vision care panels that offer greater compensation for their services, materials and expertise or they don't participate at all. Many are included in provider panels that allow optometrists to practice primary care optometry. Many optometrists are recognized as the professionals that they are.

Many optometrists are respected for their professional knowledge and the manner in which they provide care to patients. They are recognized for what they offer the healthcare industry. They have a sense of belonging and enjoy the self satisfaction that results from having accomplished all of these things and more.

Leaders still "wannabe"

These optometrists are the leaders and they lead by doing, by accomplishing and by setting an example. The interesting thing is that if you ask any of these leaders, they all still wannabe more than they are, want to accomplish more than they have and are willing to share their experiences. How do we become leaders? All we have to do is wannabe.

Walter D. West, O.D., F.A.A.O., Eternal Wannabe


Optometric Management, Issue: July 2004