First thing’s first, an over-due, promised update regarding my Private Practice Club event: Dine Out With Doctors. This was such a fun event. It incorporated networking not only with a current O.D.s, but also allowed different classes of optometry students to mingle a bit. I got to chat with a few first years who I’ve never met before and a third year. It’s interesting to hear how the current OD1’s are handling their course work vs. your own experiences and it’s always fantastic to get any tips possible from upper years.
At the event, we had a list of potential doctors with various specialties that we could choose to meet with and my pick was Dr. Steven Goldstein. He is part of a multi-doctor practice specializing in vision rehabilitation and specialty contact lenses in Maine. Most notably, he and a few other doctors actually started their practice “cold,” meaning they opened the practice themselves and did not take over an existing practice. This is often times seen as a challenge due to the amount of effort needed to develop a strong patient base as well as facilitating and acquiring new equipment.
I chose Dr. Goldstein because my previous boss, an O.D., told me that while optometry school will teach us how to be doctors, it’s crucial to understand the business side of things because that’s what actually keeps you afloat! Dr. Goldstein was a great resource for this as his story is pretty unique. Having started out as a military optometrist, he really had to build his group of multiple practices from the ground up. He spoke of countless hours meeting with his managing partners over how to merge everyone’s specialties and how to relocate their individual practices to create a more efficient and lucrative business. Currently, Dr. Goldstein spends his time primarily at a singular location, but some his partners split their time between 2 or even 3 of the FIVE different locations. That’s right, Dr. Goldstein convinced a few of his fellow peers to band together and open up to what is now an eight doctor optometric business practicing in five locations!
When asked of some key success points, Dr. Goldstein told us that it was very important to the managing partners that there be a central location where everyone could gather together periodically instead of communicating from separate locations. It was also extremely important to have an internet bandwidth the size of Google (exaggerated, but with an internet bill up in the thousands per month, Google seemed fitting) to support the electronic health records of all of their patients while still maintaining efficient and streamlined communication between all 5 locations. Having the same service systems in all locations meant that the staff could work in any of the locations without additional training and all patient health records could be accessed by all the doctors in the event of another doctor being absent. If anyone is interested in checking out Dr. Goldstein’s website, visit http://www.cascobayeye.com.
What I learned: savor every business and financial learning opportunity and ask tons of questions. Academics are important, but we also have to learn how to sustain ourselves in the real world! While some say it’s a different optometric world today than 20 years ago, these experienced doctors have a wealth of information that stems from years of trial and error. I highly recommend that everyone ask their current optometrist how their career started and why they chose their current business format. There’s just so much we don’t know!
With that said, second year is still a killer. Once January got rolling and Boston got over it’s month of history-breaking-snowfall, everyone was back to business! A few extra shots of caffeine per day and a whole lot of junk food later, I survived round 2 of second year midterms and it was a doozy. But wait! Two weeks later, second years had our spring proficiencies, which is basically a skill-based exam of everything you’ve learned in PPO lab this year. What did this mean? It meant countless hours at night in our pre-clinic lab getting our eyes dilated for each other and getting blinded by lights over and over again until everything seemed permanently white. Was it worth it? YES, I passed my proficiency and have now moved on to the FINAL EXAM that’s coming up in a week. That’s right folks, the fun does not stop. While it sounds very crazy, in reality, there is a lot of space given within our schedule for studying and the Pre-Clinic practicing nights. It all comes down to time management.
And of course, after a certain point, the brain always needs a break, so it was important to me that I did not completely shun myself from society and “fun.” I picked up running along the Esplanade again since the weather is now in the 50’s (woohoo!) and after a full day’s studying on the weekends, I’ll go home and watch a movie to unwind. This optometry journey is kind of what you make out of it. Participation in extracurricular activities can be just as rewarding and fun as spending a night in with a movie, it’s important to find that balance between academic success and maintaining personal zen. It’s a crazy semester, but with some luck and a lot of practice and self-control, ALL achievable! A wise, green alien once said, “Do or do not, there is no try,” good luck to anyone out there about to embark on exams, I’m with ya!