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Success Through Service
I started my practice in Los Osos, CA, which for a small town of 10,000 was a mecca for optometrists—there were nine of us in town when my practice opened. Finding success in a saturated environment was daunting, but we determined we could all be successful if we differentiated ourselves through community outreach and service.
At the beginning of my career, community outreach was a necessity to bring in patients. I would visit preschools, talk to parents about eye care, and then do screenings for kids. I was able to meet the needs of young children while engaging their parents, resulting in long-term loyalty to my practice. That outreach led to other opportunities as we continued serving those in need in our community, gradually building up our practice.
Over the years, community outreach became less of a necessity for the practice and more of a lifestyle I didn’t want to give up. With connections established through my years of outreach, I am always hearing about a special need we can help address. Recently I went to the county jail, where all ten of the men I examined had eye conditions that should have been caught in kindergarten. Next week, I’m going to a kindergarten class, where I’ll get to do just that—treat these issues at the beginning of the children’s lives. This full circle of improving quality of life has become a driving force for me personally and in my practice.
The philosophy of service isn’t unique to my practice. In our community, it started back in the sixties with a vision screening program for all the county schools—something every local doctor still participates in to this day. Coming together in this way for our community has taught us to get along, and the idea of competition just isn’t in our culture. We have this unique little place in the world where everyone believes that’s how you build a practice. This sense of community and partnership has been invaluable to me as an independent private practice and has benefited both our doctors and the community we serve.
As our industry becomes increasingly competitive, private practice doctors are now looking for even more opportunities to differentiate. In my practice, we are delving into the neuro-optometry arena, helping people after brain injury. Staying true to our roots, we are carrying this expertise into the community, providing vision therapy to those in need. As I see it, helping people in my community live better lives while furthering our practice and the profession is the true definition of success.
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