By Benjamin S. Chudner, OD, FAAO,
Chief Medical Officer, AEG Vision
August 3, 2022
Having a plan, with goals to strive for, can help you achieve your vision of the perfect career. The right practice partner can give your career planning a lift by providing you with targeted resources and professional support. Here is how a partner like AEG Vision can do that for you, taking you to your ideal place in optometry.
Creating & Fulfilling a Career Plan that Optimizes a Range of Options
The greatest challenge for most ODs when creating a career plan is knowing all of the potential paths available to them. When deciding on a clinical path, whether it be private practice, corporate optometry, or academia, most ODs have a good sense of how to get there, or at least have access to resources that can help.
However, a career path with non-clinical roles is usually less well understood. I have been receiving many requests from ODs asking how they can make the switch from patient care to a non-clinical role within our industry. In these conversations, I noticed that most ODs don’t even know the types of non-clinical roles available in our profession, and what those roles require and offer as opportunities.
When I first set out to be an optometrist, my goal was to own a private practice. Once I achieved that, I was exposed to industry and eventually realized there were more opportunities for me outside of the exam lane. When I made the decision to sell my practice, I had a clear path in mind of where I wanted to be in 10 years. I would love to say that my career path was exactly how I envisioned it, but I was able to eventually get to where I wanted by being willing to accept roles that I had to grow into.
Try Out Different Practice Settings
For ODs who are just starting out, I recommend practicing in as many settings as you can to see which will allow you to reach your goals. This can start prior to graduation during fourth-year rotations. If you are interested in a VA setting, for example, it’s almost impossible to know what that will be like unless you spend time in that setting.
I am also a firm believer in mentoring, and was fortunate to be mentored by amazing people. One of the things I like most about optometry is the willingness of ODs to mentor other ODs. My advice is to take advantage of that, but also to remember to give back when it’s your turn.
Work With & Learn From Key Opinion Leaders
The advantage of joining a larger organization like AEG Vision is the opportunities that can arise from our business model. Our network of doctors includes key opinion leaders (KOLs) in virtually every specialty within optometry. These KOLs are always willing to help ODs create their own career plan, and have the personal experience to help them achieve that plan.
For example, we have some of the largest medically necessary contact lens practices in the country, and several of our doctors have traveled to those practices to learn from the best. In addition to clinical opportunities, we have operations roles that are non-clinical. Two of our current Eyecare Directors used to work in one of our practices, but wanted to take their career in a different direction. Our structure creates these types of growth opportunities.
Other Articles to Explore
We recently hired two new optometrists to support the sharing of knowledge between our doctors, so our associate ODs can learn and expand their career. Our new Director of Professional Development will be charged with developing programs to help AEG ODs grow in their professional development, and work toward their career goals. Our intent is to build a team that will support any and all of our doctors who wish to elevate their ability to provide care to their patients. In the coming months, as these new hires get up to speed, we plan to expand AEG patient services in medically necessary contact lenses, myopia management and dry eye.
Partner With an Organization that Can Help You Enhance Medical Eyecare Skills
As a growing company, there are always new opportunities, but I am most excited about the training programs and disease management protocols we plan to put into place to help our doctors improve their ability to diagnose and manage patients. My hope is to have centers of excellence throughout the country led by our local doctors, but at a minimum we will provide our doctors with the ability to enhance the level of care they provide.
There’s no limit to how high you can rise in optometry when you have the right partner supporting your efforts to learn and grow.