With over 40 years as a leader in the eyecare industry, Shopko Optical’s commitment to doing the right thing, every time, for their patients is well known. However, the company is equally dedicated to ensuring each member of their team has the structure, support, and security they need to become the best doctor they can be. Multiple factors go into creating a company geared toward job satisfaction. Two optometrists who have found career fulfillment with the company were eager to share the many merits of working with Shopko Optical.
Practicing where patient-centric care is a cornerstone
Top on the list of Shopko Optical’s values is delivering patient-centered, personalized, and comprehensive eyecare that prioritizes the individual’s overall well being by using a revolutionary approach rooted in trust.
For Dr. Amit Bhambri, an Illinois College of Optometry graduate who joined Shopko Optical in 2019, part of his role as an optometrist is to show patients the Shopko Optical difference. He makes certain they know that Shopko Optical puts the patient's needs above all else. According to Bhambri, “One of the challenges in Illinois is that not many people know what Shopko Optical is or who we are. So, we have a duty to make sure that our patients understand what differentiates us. That's patient care―doing what's needed to give them five-star service every time.”
Dr. Amanda Gerson, also an Illinois College of Optometry grad, has been with Shopko Optical for eight months. Being in alignment with Shopko Optical’s patient-first philosophy weighed significantly in her decision to join the company.
Gerson said: “Shopko Optical tries to create a very patient-focused environment. They truly believe that they are there to serve the community and its members. This aligns with my philosophy that I am here to serve my patients. Each person that walks through the door is an individual, and their experience should be catered to their needs.”
The approach is not lost on Shopko Optical’s patients who voice their appreciation regularly.
“When I see them for their exam, they comment on how they felt so well taken care of here,” Gerson said, “They are met with a smile and leave feeling happy and part of the ‘Shopko Optical family.’ They often talk about other places they have been and how there is just no comparison to the care they receive at Shopko Optical. They are truly with us for life.”
Shopko Optical benefits go far beyond your average offerings
Shopko Optical’s salary structure and benefits are aimed toward giving doctors the financial stability, insurance, and scheduling flexibility they need to thrive.
According to Bhambri: “The compensation is probably the most fair I've seen. And it really does make you want to build your practice and help the company grow at the same time.”
“You are highly compensated right from the start, and there is also a potential for bonuses,” Gerson said, “You receive affordable health insurance for you and your family. And Shopko Optical offers great paid time off benefits. I’ve not had any problems being able to use it! In fact, I had only been with the company for a month when my regional manager asked if I wanted to start using PTO . . . it was amazing.”
Shopko Optical understands the need for a work-life balance
As revealed in the Eyes on Eyecare 2020 Optometry Millennial Workforce Report, when seeking employment, young optometrists prioritize work-life balance. They reported being highly motivated to excel in their jobs, but also demanded the time and energy to have a life outside the office for family, hobbies, and self-care. Shopko Optical understands this and works to help their optometrists realize a healthy balance.
“The hours are really fair. You can have alternating Saturdays where you work. So you have every other Saturday off, which is extremely important; you need some weekends to yourself, and you need to have a life outside of the practice, which is one of the reasons that drew me to work here,” said Bhambri.
Gerson stated, “It’s nice to not be on call during holidays, vacations, or weekends. I get to come in, see my patients, and leave knowing that there is a team in place to support the patients if a need arises.”
Support from the top down allows doctors to do what they do best
One of the most unique benefits of the Shopko Optical model is their ability to offer both ample freedom and full support, so their doctors can focus on practicing optometry without having to worry about the running of the business. By providing a full administrative staff along with corporate medical billing, Shopko Optical enables optometrists to concentrate on providing optimal care and mastering their craft.
This support comes from the very top and infiltrates every level of Shopko Optical. When speaking of corporate, Bhambri stated, “They're open to hearing ideas. They're always looking to build the practice, so they'll listen to what you have to say. They're not overbearing, but if you need any answers to the questions you may have, they're always there to help.”
He also sang the praises of Shopko Optical's support staff as one of the best in the industry with their team receiving ongoing training to expand their knowledge and skills.
Support includes equipping ODs with high-quality equipment and products
Combining state-of-the-art technology with hometown values is another of Shopko Optical’s core tenets. They provide a wide array of the latest, top-of-the-line lens and frame options. Their optical lab in Green Bay, Wisconsin adds another level of quality control and customization. In addition, they equip each office with up-to-date technology, including visual field, retinal cameras, auto refractors, non-contact tonometers, and digital phoropters. They strive to provide doctors with exactly what they need to best succeed.
Gerson explained: “My general and regional managers are always telling me that they are here to support me and my practice. They will work with you to develop a patient flow and protocol that fits your needs and caters to how you want to practice.
At Shopko Optical, an average day means practicing your way
Each optometrist who works within a Shopko Optical store is encouraged to practice in the way that works best for them in order to become the doctor they want to be. This translates into giving team members a sense of autonomy and control over their career. Bhambri described Shopko Optical as a “corporate setting with a private practice feel.”
Upon graduation, Gerson initially started at a small, private practice. Though she is grateful for the experience, she found the atmosphere rigid and a bit stifling, comparing it to “ trying to cook in someone else’s kitchen.”
She simultaneously longed for more independence and security. She said, “As a new grad, with thousands of dollars in student loans, I could not afford to start my own practice, but Shopko Optical has given me the opportunity to do just that (except without the headache). I don’t have financial risk, I don’t have to manage staff/employees, I get to build my practice and treat patients how I want them treated, and I get a nice paycheck at the end of the day.”
Bhambri voiced a similar sentiment: “They give you the freedom to run the practice as you see fit. It's a breath of fresh air to work with them compared to past jobs.”
Shopko Optical affords the opportunity to practice full-scope optometry
Shopko Optical offers a full scope of services, including eye exams, contact lens fitting, refractive services, and the diagnosis and treatment of eye disease along with cataract and refractive surgery co-management. While relying on their expertise in each of these areas, Shopko Optical also embraces change and encourages doctors to become confident in using innovative practices.
Both Dr. Bhambri and Dr. Gerson find it exciting and educational to be able to treat a vast variety of conditions within a broad patient population. Bhambri said, “On the medical side of it, essentially anything that we learned in school, we're able to treat. We're treating as much as we can. Overall, there's a support system here where we can essentially practice as we please and to the fullest scope of our licensure.”
In describing her typical day, Gerson said, “I typically see between two to three patients per hour. My patient base is very large. My youngest patient so far has been 2 years old and the oldest was around 110. I would say about 60% are Medicare, so there are definitely options to perform medical optometry, if you so choose. Or you can refer out if you do not feel comfortable treating, managing, or following conditions.”
Shopko Optical offers an unrivaled experience for patients and ODs alike
Creating a positive environment and welcoming atmosphere is another of Shopko Opticals premier principles.
Bhambri said: “You want to come to work. It's more like a family than just a company. It's a different feeling compared to other places I've worked―in a good way.”
Bhambri also appreciates the community Shopko Optical builds amongst its doctors by organizing opportunities for staff to congregate and communicate. According to Bhambri, “One of the unique things Shopko Optical offers is the Doctor Community; you join the group and there's a quarterly meeting where we discuss things. They offer quite a few varying communities: for people of color, for LGBTQ employees, and many others. So, they have quite a few community-building initiatives to make you comfortable and feel like you're welcome.”
He added, “We also do a meeting once a year, where managers and doctors get together, and we learn about the company, products, and services.”
The sense of community extends to forming lasting connections between doctors and patients. Dr. Gerson practices in Jacksonville, Illinois, which she describes as “a smaller, rural community.” The town has already made her feel like a cherished member. She explained, “About a month ago, I threw my back out, and I can’t tell you how many emails and phone calls I got from patients in the community asking if I needed anything. And I’ve only been here eight months. I can’t imagine what my relationships will be like in the years to come.”
Trusting doctors with a trusted brand
Shopko Optical’s ultimate goal is to become “the most trusted optical brand in America.” And they know employing and empowering doctors aligned with this mission is central to its achievement. With freestanding storefronts in 11 states and an ambitious plan for future growth in 2021 and beyond, everyone at Shopko Optical is excited to continue providing the same exceptional eye care their communities have come to know and love.
Of Shopko Optical, Bhambri said: “You feel like you're in control of what you are doing on a day-to-day basis. They offer a support system. And, you have incentive to grow your practice, which is really nice. And so, I'm happy being here.”
Bhambri would give these words to new graduates: “You would be fortunate to get a job with them because the experience is good. If you are new and just starting, you get a busy practice, so you can learn a lot, both on the medical billing side and just how to run a practice. And, essentially, you get a feeling of independence with support.”
In closing, Gerson said, “Don’t let a corporate stigma stop you from working with Shopko Optical. The people at this company are a community that truly cares about their patients and at the end of the day, isn’t that why you choose to become a healthcare professional?”
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