Published in Non-Clinical
Life as a New Optometrist - Courtney Dryer O.D.
This is editorially independent content
Courtney Dryer is a 2011 new optometrist graduate of SCO. She opened 4 Eyes Optometry cold in her hometown of Charlotte, NC in February of 2013. She enjoys DIY projects, marathoning TV shows, and traveling in her free time.
My pre-practice bucket list consisted of passing North Carolina boards, and deciding how and where I wanted to practice Optometry. I think before you start practicing as a new optometrist, you should “chart a course” for yourself. Make a list of what you have to offer the practice you are about to join. Where do you see yourself in 5 years within the profession? How does this practice or job help you to obtain those goals? Does your contract contain a non-compete that would limit your future abilities?
The unknown behind each door. I disliked emergency visits because my fear was that I would not know the condition the patient had or would not treat it in the best way. If you’re not sure, have the patient follow-up sooner or refer out. Don’t try to be a superhero. As a new optometrist, patients appreciate your honesty in saying, “If I was you, I would want a corneal/retinal/plastics specialist to look at my eyes.”
For me, it was inter-office relationships that I found most difficult. Staff sees the new optometrist differently than the senior OD. When new grads become associate doctors they automatically assume a certain level of authority in office hierarchy. Other colleagues and I have found this to be a point of contention with older office managers. I made sure to approach the relationship with respect, and to ask questions. No one knows your office and patients like they do.
I think, and then I do. I’m constantly trying to come up with new ideas on how to make things better, and how to implement them. As a new optometrist, you are likely to come into practices armed with new ideas, excitement, and ambition. I found that senior ODs are reluctant to change, and you have to approach change slowly and one idea at a time. Forgo showing up day 1 with a 100 item to-do list, at least keep that hidden until week two.
Giving it time. Building a personal relationship with each patient takes time. You earn their trust and confidence in you, and they will send their friends and family.
Breaking the news to a patient that an ocular disease process is the reason for their diminished vision and is not something new glasses can correct.