Antonio Chirumbolo attended the SUNY College of Optometry and returned to his hometown, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to practice shortly after graduating. He now works in a large private practice setting providing care to his local community. In addition to patient care, Antonio possesses a marked interest in the optometric industry. While not seeing patients, Antonio enjoys running, playing soccer, studying economics, and volunteering within his local community.
The Bucket List Before Your First Day of Practice
I wish I learned more about billing and coding. When I first started working, I was expected to submit charges and handle the billing and coding. I had a general understanding of billing vision vs. medical insurances. However, I lacked knowledge around how to actually bill and receive a reimbursement. In addition, I really wish I would have known how to go about getting on insurance panels, the process and length of time it took to do so. As I was not a provider on all the panels when I first started, it really proved to be a big barrier when seeing patients and building a patient base. I did not have access to any patients since I was not credentialed with all the major insurance companies.
Your biggest challenge after graduation
Finding a job, specifically full time work that offers benefits. I summed up how I went about solving that in the job searching article I wrote. Here it is.
Your biggest challenge in first year of practice
Lack of confidence in myself. With no one to check my work or look over my shoulder, it was difficult to have confidence in my clinical decision making process when tricky or tough patients presented. I quickly learned that I wasn't the only one going through this difficult moment and it was okay to talk to other docs, ask for advice and share cases with them. It was nothing to be embarrassed about.
The hardest part about acclimating to experienced / senior ODs
Every doc practices a different way. Some docs prefer specific drugs or contact lens options and some prefer something different. Some docs perform certain tests a specific way, etc. It was easy at first to practice the way the senior doc did because I thought it was the right thing to do, but in the end I learned that I needed to make my own identity and practice the way I felt comfortable.
The most challenging thing about building a patient base
Figuring out ways to introduce yourself to the community. There is of course traditional marketing, creating advertisements and sending out letters to the current patient base. Other options include doing school screenings for the local community. Volunteering at the local Lions Club, joining the local Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, the Jaycees, and other organizations enabled me to network with other business professionals in the community. I even made an appearance at the local Fish Fry during lent to meet a lot of people in the community. Awareness is key, let people know you are there.
The hardest part of your day
Going home and only having a few hours before having to wake up and get back to the office after a long day.