What is your current mode of optometry practice?
I work as an associate at a private practice in Carlsbad, CA.
Describe your career path from graduation to where you are today.
Following graduation, I did a residency at the West Los Angeles VA Hospital. At the end of my residency I got married and joined my new husband in San Diego! Once in San Diego, I started networking as much as I could, reaching out to doctors I knew in multiple modes of practice, such as hospitals, the VA, private practice, and corporate optometry. I met with many of them to talk about what it was like to practice in San Diego. Ultimately, I found my best networking occurred through the San Diego County Optometric Society. Through my local society and networking while on the board of directors, I found my position as an associate at my first practice and eventually the practice I am in now.
What made you decide to do a residency?
I’ve always felt any opportunity for relevant education is a good choice. You will have the rest of your life to work. Taking a little more time to get more concentrated training will not make much difference in the grand total of your years of working, but can give you a huge leg up in your knowledge base when starting practicing. Also, in a city such as San Diego where the the population of optometrists can be incredibly saturated, anything which sets you apart, such as a residency, can help get your resume to the top of the pile for desirable job opportunities.
How do you feel like your residency prepared you for private practice?
In one year I saw more complex cases and ocular disease than I have in the last 5 years of private practice. My year of residency allowed me to feel comfortable when seeing these cases in private practice and gave me a greater depth of knowledge for treating my patients now. My training also gave me the confidence and motivation to stay current on understandings of disease/visual conditions and treatment, setting me up for lifelong learning.
What are your long-term career goals?
I feel as though my career goals have evolved as I’ve been in the workplace and I’m starting to believe they will continue to change as my personal and professional needs do the same. Optometry itself is an ever-changing beast and our way of practicing may be very different in just 10 or 20 years. At this point, I think I would like to eventually be a partner in a group OD private practice. Being a new mom, I’m happy for now being an associate with flexible hours and without the added administrative burden.
Are you involved in any other optometry related work?
Since moving to San Diego I’ve stayed active in my local society, the San Diego County Optometric society. I started as a trustee, worked my way through the executive board, and am now president. Our society is one of the largest and most active in the country, providing monthly quality continuing education, staying active in promoting optometry’s political interests, and providing opportunities for community service such as our local free clinic (the Lions Optometric Vision Clinic) and school exams for the homeless youth at the local Monarch School. Staying involved in this way keeps me active and allows me to keep well networked and informed within the community of optometry.
Any advice for a young optometrist looking to pursue leadership roles?
Just do it. I once heard that 90% of success is just showing up and I’ve found that to ever be the case. So many people won’t bother to do the thing. Ask the people doing the thing how to do the thing and then just do the thing. Later, you’ll be glad you did and if you aren’t then you can always decide not to do it anymore!
What do you do for fun outside of optometry?
My husband isn’t an optometrist and many of my friends aren’t optometrists. While I love my optometry friends, I think it is important to do activities and have interests outside of your work! I’m a huge nerd and I love going to the San Diego Comic-Con every year. I love beer, food, and good times and there is much of all of that to be had in San Diego. I also have an adorable baby boy who I adore and a husband who is pretty great too. Plus, I’m on team Mystic in Pokemon Go. By the time you read this I’m sure I’ll be level 35 (just kidding, I’ll be much higher than that).
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