I wanted to share with you a single tip that will make you stand out amongst your classmates, optometry students across the nation, and many practicing optometrists as well. This tip will allow you to do well financially down the road, and set yourself apart now when you go find a job. On the days when you are free – no labs, no lectures, no homework – I encourage you to visit an optometrist you trust and shadow the optician at the practice. Take it a step further than shadowing, and ask that optician what are some ways that the practice has made the most money in the optical. What you find out may surprise you. The average practice has 61% of the revenue coming in from the optical and contact lenses sales. That is a significant percentage of the overall revenue that we are making in our practices. If 61% of it is coming in from the optical, we need to understand as students who are getting out there and looking for a job, how we can advance this percentage. One of the ways that we can do that is by knowing how to fully meet the patient’s visual needs, and at times, that can mean prescribing multiple glasses. So as an example, today I have several patients in the office that we prescribe 2 or 3 different pairs of glasses to. That may seem like a lot, but every single patient needs their primary pair of everyday glasses, and most people also benefit from some sort of occupational pair, whether they are on the computer all day, or they have a hobby like a patient I had today that does a lot of bird watching. One of the other things that emany patients benefit from is a pair of prescription sunglass. Prescription sunglasses are really cool because they stand apart and I kind of think of them as the optometric drug: Once a patient tries them, they’ll never go back to not wearing prescription sunglasses.
In summary, it will greatly benefit you to get out there as a student and shadow an optician at a successful private practice. Though the owner should know the ins and outs of the business, the doctor in charge doesn’t always know the details of the optical, so be sure to specifically ask the optician what he or she does to promote the success of the practice. Ask for numbers and stats, for feedback, for strategy, and absorb as much as you can. This real-world knowledge will set you apart from your classmates, and will equip you with the confidence needed to succeed and find a practice that you can help grow, or to grow your own from scratch.