“Don’t go corporate! You’ll work long, hard hours and on weekends, you’ll be a slave to a giant corporation that dictates how you practice, and you’ll watch your ocular disease training slowly wither away…”
Sound familiar? Yeah, that’s what I heard in optometry school, too.
Are there lousy optometry jobs out there? Of course (and they aren’t all corporate). In my experience, corporate optometry for the new grad optometrist doesn’t have to be as bad as some make it out to be.
I’ve been working at a LensCrafters in a high-end mall for about 7 months now, and I still have no compelling reason to leave.
Consider my typical work day
Convenient start time
My first patient is scheduled at 10 am, which means I get plenty of morning time (including extra sleep if needed). This schedule also shortens my commute because I miss the early morning traffic.
Techs do all the pre-testing
My OD employer has his practice fully staffed with techs, receptionists, a third-party billing specialist, and an office manager. The whole team is tight-knit and likes to laugh often, which makes coming to work interesting and fun.
It also means that all the pre-testing is done by the time the patient sees me!
- the patient history
- Optos® Daytona retinal imaging
This has dramatically reduced my exam time compared to when I was doing everything myself as a 4th year.
Full eye exams are scheduled every 30 minutes, with occasional contact lens checks and office visits in between. It is not uncommon in this environment for patients to no-show. This allows us to take walk-ins with little notice, which makes for happy patients.
My 1-hour lunch break gives me plenty of time to eat, walk around the mall a bit, and listen to my favorite podcasts. Sometimes reps will take me out to lunch to discuss their latest product, usually at BRIO Tuscan Grille (yum!), conveniently located at the same mall where I work.
You would think that a mall population would have only young, healthy eyes. However, I see a full range of ocular disease across the entire age spectrum. Most of the medical cases I see are…
- diabetic retinopathy
- hypertensive retinopathy
- dry eye syndrome
- corneal ulcers/abrasions
I have also seen several metallic foreign bodies / rust rings (yay AlgerBrush!), a vitreal heme, and even a bilateral papilledema case.
At the end of the day
On average I see 10-13 full exams daily (5 on really slow days and 17+ on very busy days).
This might seem hectic on the busy days, but it’s actually not that bad. And since I’m an employee, I have a very predictable income and get to enjoy my evenings at home without the stresses of ownership.
While I am very positive about my job, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. To be fair, I should mention a couple of less desirable aspects that simply come with the territory.
For example, I mentioned earlier that I love my morning schedule, but going into work later means getting out later. Of the 5 days I’m scheduled per week, 3-4 are late nights, which means I don’t leave work until 7:30 pm, including some Saturdays.
This would be more of an issue if I had a couple of kids at home, but for now my wife and I manage this schedule just fine. I still get 2 days off per week, I miss rush hour traffic on the way home, and I never have to work on Sundays.
Another disadvantage is that I’m not gaining any practice equity. I am building equity, but my employer receives all the long-term benefit.
The trade-off is I get paid a higher, more stable salary than I could as a new grad in private practice.
So what is the truth about new optometry grads and corporate practice? Well, it isn’t as bad as you may have heard. While I don’t plan on making a career out of corporate optometry, I do enjoy working a job with a very stable income, a reasonable schedule, a practical exam pace, and the ability to flex my medical optometry muscles often.
What about you?
Thinking about working or already work in corporate optometry? Leave a comment or ask me a question in the “Leave a Reply” section below.