Feb. 27, 2019
A Women in Optometry dinner presentation at SECO 2019 in New Orleans last week featured three women ODs who cultivated careers to suit their needs, rather than slotting themselves into existing models.
The three panelists for the event, “Finding the Right Fit,” were Barbara Horn, OD, of Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Carey Patrick, OD, of Allen, Texas, and Bridgitte Shen Lee, OD; of Houston, Texas.
Dr. Horn, president-elect of the American Optometric Association, addressed how she crafted her working life to blend her interests in advocacy for the profession.
Dr. Patrick, for whom optometry is a second career, discussed the steps she took to return to school following her career in marketing, and how she then built a career as a solo practitioner OD.
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Dr. Shen Lee, who co-owns a private practice in Houston, Texas, discussed how she balances a many-faceted career that includes leading an education company, iTravelCE, where she lectures on the latest eyecare topics and leads CE programs across Asia, sharing her interests in exploring global cultures with adventurous ODs.
The event, sponsored by HOYA, was kicked off by Greg Hicks, OD, director of professional affairs for HOYA Vision Care. Dr. Hicks urged owners to take another look at how they prescribe and sell sunwear. “I’m changing how I talk about sunwear,” he emphasized, noting the responsibility of ODs to talk about sunwear, including prescription sunwear, with all patients, and to have an area of the optical devoted to sunwear.
HOYA is offering a turnkey sunwear sales program in which your HOYA sales representative can provide you with practice-branded marketing materials with information about HOYA sunwear products.
After a brief introduction from WO editor Marjolijn Bijlefeld, who highlighted the changing demographics in optometry, in which 44 percent of practicing ODs are women, the three doctors shared how they first found their ideal place in the profession.
Dr. Horn said she started her career at a laser and vision therapy practice, and then kept moving around until she found the perfect fit, while Dr. Lee, who immigrated with her family to the U.S. as a teenager, discovered optometry in her senior year in high school. She was drawn to how it combined style and health. “I’ve always known I wanted to open a private practice,” she said.
Dr. Patrick started her career outside of optometry, in telecommunications and marketing, but found herself frustrated with the corporate culture of the time. “I was bumping my head against the glass ceiling so many times I had to find something I wouldn’t keep getting such a headache from,” she said. Her advice to others who find they are not happy in their careers and need to make a change: “Simply stop doing what you’re doing when you’re in a job that’s not making you happy.”
The doctors also shared how they balance work and family life. Dr. Lee, who has two daughters, said she “purchases 45 hours of free time a week” by having two people working in her home, one to help care for her children, and the other to do housekeeping. “I use the found time on my own children,” she said, noting that there are certain things involving her children and family that come before her career, things “she is not willing to move off the table.”
Dr. Horn agreed with Dr. Lee, stressing the importance of working with colleagues to help each other, so that everyone can be there for their families. “It’s about teamwork,” she said. “Colleagues can fill in for you when there is something in your life that you can’t miss.”