Published in Non-Clinical
Creating a Culture Dedicated to Making a Difference
This post is sponsored by National Vision
7 min read
In this talk from Eyes on Career Fair 2021, Director of Student Relations Dr. Bill Werner discusses National Vision’s mission to create a world absent of correctable vision loss and offer an ideal culture for optometrists and staff.
Many are aware that optometrists practicing in the National Vision network provide top-notch eyecare to millions of patients across the country each year. However, some people don't know about the company’s staunch commitment to making a difference in as many people's lives as they can across the world and their numerous initiatives to that end.
According to Dr. Bill Werner, “Not only, again, are millions of patients being seen within our locations every year, we are involved in several philanthropic endeavors, both domestically and internationally. And, our initiatives are broken down into three pillars. One, helping kids across America. Two, giving to those in need globally. And three, partnering with the optical ecosystem. Basically, what this means is that we work with like-minded organizations to find solutions to help eradicate the global vision crisis.”
Werner joined Bluegrass Vision Care Network, PSC, an independent practice affiliated with the National Vision Doctor of Optometry network, in 2011, directly after graduating from the Illinois College of Optometry. After years of practicing and holding various roles within his practice, and eventually the company, he now serves as Director of Student Relations.
Werner goes on to explain the pivotal role of ocular health in overall well-being: “The ability to see has a direct impact to becoming a sustainable society. Without good vision and ocular health, there are many societal milestones that can be affected, including one's ability to get an education, to earn a living, and to maintain their well-being.”
He adds, “With so many people worldwide who are in need of vision care, we have a motto of ‘believing that everyone deserves to see their best to live their best.’ And we go about achieving this by making eye care and eyewear more affordable and accessible.”
According to Werner, “The culture that has been created at National Vision, where we are dedicated to making a difference, starts from the very top with our CEO, Reade Fahs.” Fahs’ ultimate goal is “to create a world that finally is absent of correctable vision loss, and, thereby, dramatically improve the lives of over one billion of the poorest people on the planet.”
Werner adds: “When you have a leader with this vision and mission in mind, you can only imagine the culture that surrounds us at National Vision.”
Fahs is also a champion for diversity, equity, and inclusion. The CEO recently signed the “CEO Action for Diversity and InclusionTM Pledge” making National Vision the first optical retailer represented in a growing coalition of business leaders who are committed to advancing diversity and inclusion goals in the workplace.
National Vision has also formed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council. Werner stated, “The goal of the Council is to create a safe and innovative environment where associates and doctors of all backgrounds feel a sense of belonging, trust, and compassion.”
In this spirit, they have committed $425,000 in scholarships, grants, and philanthropic donations to support Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students. For their efforts, National Vision was recognized as one of Forbes “Best Employers for Diversity” in 2021.
Through their company-wide program, National Vision Cares, they strive to give away 25,000 pairs of eyeglasses to individuals in need across the country per year. Each individual store identifies those within their local communities who are in the greatest need.
National Vision also partners with a number of organizations to reach those in need both domestically and internationally, including VisionSpring, RestoringVision, the Lions Club, and Prevent Blindness Georgia, which assists in vision screenings of school-aged children.
Recently, through their partnership with RestoringVision, National Vision announced a new collaboration with Americares. Werner said, “Americares is a program that helps serve low income, uninsured, and under-served communities, many living up to 300 times below the federal poverty rate. It has already been involved in helping people in need of diabetic treatments, mental health services, and dental services. The program is expanding its optical services, and through our collaboration with Americares and Restoring Vision, we will be able to impact 500,000 of our country's most vulnerable to see better by delivering free glasses over the next two years.”
National Vision is one of the largest and fastest growing optical retailers in the country, operating in 44 states nationwide with over 1,200 locations. In each location, finding associates and doctors who align with the company’s mission is a prime priority.
“When hiring associates within the stores or recruiting optometrists to practice at a National Vision location, we are looking for people who share the same core values that National Vision has. These values are: Number one, empower to do right, and that's doing what's right for every single patient that comes through our doors; committed to creating happiness every day; and energized to serve a population that is in need of eye care and eyewear. With these core values, we are able to make a difference in people's lives daily,” Werner said.
In addition to giving back to the community, National Vision is dedicated to giving doctors the support and resources they need to succeed by providing flexibility, clinical support, competitive compensation, ample time off, a mentorship program for new ODs, and continuing education. Doctors employed by the 30+ independent optometric practices with offices inside National Vision locations receive similar benefits from their employers as well.
For these reasons and more, Werner is still extremely satisfied with his choice of employer: “I chose National Vision based on a gut feeling, where I saw myself being happiest in the care that I would provide my patients. And, a decade later, it continues to be the culture that I am surrounded by as the reason why I am still at my first choice of work after graduation.”
In closing, Werner said, “We know that creating a culture dedicated to making a difference is key in our hope that optometrists will want to spend their entire career practicing within the National Vision doctor network.”