A Roundabout Way Home

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My favorite patient story involves an eight-year-old boy with a pet tarantula. He came in with a red, painful eye, and a quick look under the slit lamp revealed thousands of tiny, almost translucent little fibers in his cornea. After learning he had a pet tarantula, I turned to Google and found out that tarantulas shoot hair off their backs as a defense mechanism—this kid had thousands of tarantula hairs embedded in his eye! We removed what we could, put him on steroids, and saw him every day until his vision was back to 20/20. Experiences like this are why I love private practice optometry.

Full Circle
Growing up on a farm in rural Kansas, I knew by the age of 18 that I didn’t want to be a farmer in rural Kansas. So, I went to optometry school and then moved to Texas, where I practiced for about a decade. When I got the call that an OD in my hometown was retiring and there was an opportunity to take over, my first answer was no. And yet, here I am, back in rural Kansas, practicing in my hometown and loving it.

It's great being home and getting to treat relatives and friends that I grew up with—my biggest fear is seeing a patient I went to school with and not recognizing him or her! Fortunately, that hasn’t happened yet, but I did have a funny experience involving my uncle. The only optometrist he's ever seen is my senior partner. When I joined the practice, my uncle timidly asked if he had to start seeing me, or if he could keep seeing my partner instead.

Otherwise, the reception has been great. We are a thriving family practice that treats pediatrics to geriatrics and relies extensively on word-of-mouth referrals for patients. We hear all the time how friendly our staff is from the time patients call to make an appointment to the smiles they get when they leave—and our referrals and reviews reflect that experience.

VSP Vision and the Premier Program have really supported our practice by helping get new patients into our exam chair and providing cost-saving benefits to the practice and patients. In a world where every dollar and cent counts, patients love the rebates and discounts they get on frames and lenses because we are a Premier Program practice, and, as a practice, we appreciate the exclusive rewards and savings. VSP also does a great job of educating its members on the importance of annual eye exams, which helps bring patients into the practice.

Making the World Go ‘Round
I love private practice optometry because of the connection with patients and the excitement of daily challenges and discoveries (like the dangers of tarantula ownership). But what I find most fulfilling is that I get to make my hometown—society, even—a better place. In a world so visually demanding, we as optometrists help people be better at whatever it is that they do. “As Eye See It,” that makes society function and the world go ‘round, and I’m proud to be an integral part of that.

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