How to select a community where you can achieve
professional and personal success.
Kelly K. Kerksick, O.D., Columbia, Ill.
your dilemma. You're ready to go it on your own and you're looking for a practice
location. There's an established practice for sale in the city, a prime office
for rent in a busy suburban shopping center and a new professional building going
up in your hometown. Which location is right for you?
I started looking for a practice location 3 years ago, I wrestled with a number
of decisions that would affect my professional and personal life for many years.
I realized that new O.D.s can't just choose a location because it's available. We
need to pick one that will nourish our professional and personal satisfaction and
Find a Home-and-Work Location
You'll spend far more time in the community where
your practice is located than you will in the place you call home. Why not make
them the same place?
One good reason to live and work in
the same community is simple: A short commute. If you live close to the practice,
you can take advantage of the many free after-hours advertising and networking opportunities
that can help your practice grow. You'll network at Chamber of Commerce meetings
or attend local school functions to mark your presence in the community and
get home in time to get some sleep.
In addition, it's difficult to offer
your patients the very best care when you live far from your practice. You don't
want to spend an hour driving home just to get an after-hours emergency phone call
from a patient as you pull into the driveway. As a new O.D., you can't afford to
not see this patient, so now you have to turn around for another lengthy drive.
Why set yourself up for the inconvenience? By living close to work, you can be available
for your patients and encourage the practice's growth while enjoying better quality
Put Profitability in Perspective
Many doctors think a top location means a successful
practice and a happy optometrist. I disagree. I've seen many doctors make the mistake
of choosing a practice location in an area they don't like so they can capitalize
on the business opportunity the community offers. This is not a recipe for success.
If you don't like where you practice
and you can't wait to leave work to go home, you'll create a lot of unnecessary
stress and unhappiness. To be a success, you need to get involved with the community
through the local schools, clubs or volunteer organizations. Patients need to see
you in action, showing that you have a commitment and dedication not only to making
your practice succeed, but also to helping the community succeed. If you like your
practice community, this is effortless. If not, it's a tiresome chore that lasts
Learn All You Can About the Area
Once you've narrowed your choices to communities
you like, it's time to evaluate their need for your professional services. When
I was narrowing down my location choices, I contacted my state optometric association
for demographic information. Next, I documented how many O.D.s were practicing in
each community. I found some areas already were well-served.
The communities' major employers also
influenced my decision. This information gave me an idea of the types of insurance
that residents used and how HMO-driven my potential patient base would be. With
these factors in mind, I finally selected a location.
Put Down Roots
Last but not least, before I hung out my shingle
in my new hometown, I looked to the community to confirm my decision. I joined a
church and several local organizations, including the Kiwanis Club and the Chamber
of Commerce. I met with the local economic development coordinator and found
that my presence and services would be embraced with open arms in the community.
This finally sealed the deal. I was very pleased I'd selected my location with such
a thorough process, and I have been very content with my choice. With careful research
and consideration, you can find the same success and satisfaction with your
Optometric Management, Issue: November 2005