Why did I decide to become an optometrist? At the University of Kentucky, when I needed a job to make extra money, I applied to be a research assistant in the Department of Neuroscience. We were doing the original research involving Botunlinum toxin for the eye (which is now known as Botox), and that’s really where my passion began. I also had influence from my father, who is also an optometrist. More than anything, I wanted to help people with their most precious sense.
Is it different than what you thought? In many ways, my career is much different than I had envisioned. There are so many things besides patient care that I am responsible for during my daily routine. Ultimately I am responsible for the operation of a business that specializes in eye care and employs more than 55 people. I am also a consultant and educator, flying more than 250,000 miles a year domestically. On the other hand, the actual patient care component of my career has far exceeded my expectations. The advancements in technology and medications in our industry are astounding. It really is a gratifying and enjoyable profession.
What is the biggest misconception about your field? One of the most common questions I get both in the examination room as well as from strangers on airplanes is whether “that laser surgery” can fix their vision. Although we use lasers every day for a variety of reasons including glaucoma, vision correction surgery with a laser is only one method that is used. Only a fairly narrow percentage of the population would truly benefit from such surgery.
What is one thing you wish patients knew about your profession? We want patients to take an active role and responsibility in their own healthcare. It’s much easier to help a patient who wants to be proactive in the future of their health.
What is your opinion of Managed Care and how will this affect you and your practice? Managed Care isn’t going away. In our field, we not only file medical insurance for medical eye examinations, glaucoma testing and advanced procedures, we also participate in vision care insurance, which covers more of the general eye examination and a portion of the glasses.
It is very confusing to patients and often times leaves the patient upset with our practice. The landscape is changing dramatically right now and I think you will see Accountable Care Organizations (ACO’s) make a run as a new model for healthcare delivery. I have to make sure I don’t get left out of any new delivery models.
What’s one thing my colleagues would be surprised to learn about you? That I am a cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with lymphoma when I was 30, just as I was finishing my fellowship. It definitely gives me a different perspective, to this day.
What is the best advice you ever received? Who gave it to you? I always think about Charles Burton’s quote “You’ll never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” This is especially true with my kids. Everything I do is in order to get time with them at the end of the day.
What’s the last good book you read? I recently read the autobiographies of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Say what you want about the politics, I think they were both fascinating stories of individuals handling massive responsibilities.
Favorite daytime beverage: Water, and I don’t drink enough of it!