Professional Development

The Best Employer for Me: 3 ODs Share How they Found their Ideal Workplace

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By Joe Herba, OD, Melinda Kennel, OD, and Krista King, OD

Nov. 18, 2020

Finding a workplace that suits your particular needs is no easy feat in any profession, including optometry. Review of Optometric Business recently spoke with three optometrists on how they found an employer, Shopko Optical, that allows them to be the kind of doctor they want to be, while enabling work-life flexibility and happiness.

Joe Herba, OD
Crystal Lake, Ill.

I came to Shopko Optical when my previous employer, a corporate retail chain, closed at the end of last year. I had a huge patient base and a high income, which I worried about not being able to replicate in a new job. My initial plan was to purchase a practice, but my heart wasn’t in it. I never liked the duties of practice management, so the prospect of suddenly having management responsibilities was not a happy one.

As I got to the last days before finalizing my agreement to purchase the practice, Shopko Optical called and offered to open a new office for me. The offer they made would take me from being a 1099 contract employee to a full-time, W2 employee, greatly reducing my expenses. At the same time, the plan I was offered enabled me to earn as much as I worked, so the harder I was willing to work, the higher my pay would be.

In addition, Shopko Optical doctors have great flexibility in determining their schedules. I never feel overworked, or that I am prisoner to a rigid schedule.

The ease of work life is coupled with my continuing ability to offer the highest level of medical eyecare. Shopko Optical provided my office with a retinal camera, a visual fields system and digital phoropters. The great part is, Shopko Optical is always open to discussing how to enhance patient care.

We also have the staff we need to serve patients to the best of our ability. Our location has two optometrists on staff, along with a general manager and five opticians. We never feel stretched too thin or rushed in our patient care.

I have been in practice for 32 years and anticipate staying with Shopko Optical for the remaining years. I have everything I need and want. I love my life now!

Melinda Kennel, OD
Norfolk, Neb.

I have been with Shopko Optical since June of 2020. I love the location and relocated my family over 200 miles to be here. Norfolk is a perfect fit for my family, as it is small enough to feel safe, family friendly but large enough so that I rarely have to leave town or shop online for what I need.

Shopko Optical was an easy choice for me. It offers medical, dental and other benefits that were extremely appealing to me; these benefits have never been part of my previous employment packages.

I can set my own schedule around being a single parent. I can fit contact lenses, provide routine care and see medical visits, which is a huge bonus for me, as full-scope optometry is my passion. I have the freedom to practice to the utmost of my abilities and focus my attention on patient care.

Working for Shopko Optical enables me to see and treat patients without having to worry about staffing issues, payroll and filing insurance claims. My equipment is topnotch, and I never have to worry about repairs.

Shopko Optical not only cares for its employees and patients, but for the community as well. Every year in cooperation with the Lions Club, free eye exams and glasses are donated to those in need through a program called Project Eye Care. I enjoy giving back to the community. It has been a rough year for everyone, and I can see how Project Eye Care has positively impacted the lives of my patients.

Shopko Optical is stuck with me. I am proud to be a Shopko Optical doctor. It is a fantastic fit for me, my family and my current lifestyle. Many of my other colleagues have stayed with Shopko Optical for the duration of their career, which speaks volumes for how the company treats its doctors.

Shopko Optical’s staff management and training process works. My team now is by far the most well trained I have ever encountered. If you look up the definition of team or teamwork in the dictionary, you will see my staff at the Shopko Optical Norfolk. The company supplies us with the best products, equipment, and trains our team on the selling points of all the products before they are launched. The process ensures we are prepared for any and all questions that are asked by the patients. I can give patients the care, and the level of attention, they deserve in a work environment that’s perfect for me.

Krista King, OD
Green Bay, Wis.

I hadn’t intended to necessarily make a career switch when Shopko Optical first approached me earlier this year, but the more I learned about the company, the more I wanted to be a part of it.

My interview was held at Shopko Optical’s corporate office in Green Bay, Wis., just before COVID-19 stay-at-home orders began. The company recruiter, Elizabeth Kiesgen, was professional and approachable. I had no serious intention of making a job change, but when I met Tom Bobka, OD, Shopko Optical’s director of optometry, everything changed for me. His authenticity made me feel welcomed and comfortable. It became obvious to me that Shopko Optical is a company that is comfortable in its own “corporate skin.” At that point, I knew that I wanted to be a part of the organization.

The flexibility Shopko Optical offers as an employer is impressive. I practiced as a Certified Public Accountant before graduating Oklahoma College of Optometry-NSUCO, so it was easy for me to recognize the freedom Shopko Optical has given its doctors to build a practice while operating in a corporate environment. The company manages to incorporate the whole “balance sheet”- Trustworthiness, Service Excellence, Competency and Community. Not surprisingly, these four values are the pillars of Shopko Optical’s mission statement.

I have worked for years in corporate optometry, but have never felt the connection with patients that I feel now. While the pace and growth of commercial optometry is diverse and exciting, I missed the development of personal connections with patients. Shopko Optical offers the piece I was missing…the community!

For example, while driving to work a few weeks ago, I was merging onto a four-lane highway. From my side view there was a gentleman attempting to cross the four busy, buzzing lanes of traffic with no crosswalk. I found myself in a line of stopped vehicles as we all watched in amazement while this gentleman snaked through a minefield of cars. We all seemed seriously concerned for this man’s safety. Then I realized this gentleman was a patient I had seen a month ago and prescribed his first-ever pair of glasses plus no-line bifocals! I smiled to myself and was no longer concerned. After all, it was my prescription he was looking through!

The chance to grow as an optometrist in my care of patients is a huge benefit of being a part of Shopko Optical. At Shopko Optical, the full scope of optometry is available. It is an individual choice as to the depth and scope of practice you desire. Being a part of this company is much more than a career steppingstone to somewhere. It is a solid rock by a Rocky Mountain lake where you say, “Yeah, I see those peaks over there. But I think I will sit here on this stone and enjoy the view.”

Joe Herba, OD, practices with Shopko in Crystal Lake, Ill. To contact him:

Melinda Kennel, OD, practices with Shopko in Norfolk, Neb. To contact her:

Krista King, OD, practices with Shopko in Green Bay, Wis. To contact her:

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