In an increasingly complex world, it can be difficult for young Optometrists to know how to make the best decisions for their careers. Providing excellence in patient care is the goal of every OD, but it’s also important to embrace the supportive, community-minded business model that will provide the perfect blend of work-life balance, career satisfaction, and growth opportunities that most ODs long for.
While practices with large, national footprints, or practices with investment partners, can offer many benefits, some ODs fear the perceived constraints of becoming involved in a corporate environment that may limit their options regarding the types of services and products they want to provide. In this context, a common concern is that providers will be locked into a specific framework of care—instead of enhancing relationships and the sense of community and support that many want.
Fortunately, MyEyeDr. offers a model that addresses such concerns and provides critical resources to help ODs practice in a way that suits their individual needs and the needs of their community. To illustrate this model, we interviewed two Optometrists who provided key insights into what it means to be an OD with MyEyeDr.
What is MyEyeDr?
In 2001, with a single location in the Washington DC area, MyEyeDr. launched with a mission to re-invent the eye care and eyewear experience by offering comprehensive eye care. Over the years since, MyEyeDr. has accomplished that mission by making the vision care process easier for both Optometrists and their patients, growing to a network of over 600 offices from Vermont to Florida and as far west as Texas and Colorado. MyEyeDr. partners with community-based, Optometrist-led practices to provide critical support for both business and patient care needs—as well as access to the latest in vision care technology and quality eyewear.
Ken Phi, OD, FAAO is currently the Clinical Field Director of Integrations for MyEyeDr. When the practice he belonged to in Denver started to experience growing pains, he and his colleagues began to explore private equity organizations for more structured support. He says MyEyeDr. was the only option that matched their culture, focused on excellence in patient care, and respected the way their doctors wanted to practice. Since coming on board in 2019, he has joined the integrations team of MyEyeDr. as a Clinical Field Director focused on integrating new practices. In his current role, he helps to orient and embrace ODs from acquired practices who are new to the MyEyeDr. community.
Darryl Glover, OD has served the Optometric community for nearly twenty years in various positions from technician to Optometrist. Although he came to MyEyeDr. in 2014 as part of a major acquisition in Raleigh-Durham, NC, he has also practiced Optometry globally and as well as managed practices.
Practicing at MyEyeDr.
In his role, Dr. Phi sees patients but believes the additional challenges of being a Clinical Field Director have been good for his professional growth. When it comes to patient care, he says MyEyeDr. wants to help patients live their best lives by ensuring that doctors are free to make their own clinical decisions: “We never want there to be a situation where the doctor feels they have to do something just because the organization says so.”
In addition, Dr. Phi says working for a large group provides more support and enhanced efficiencies that can help practices grow. It also enables buying power that’s not possible in a single-practice setting. By doing so, a practice can remain competitive in the evolving world of eyecare to ensure staff and patients can access the resources they need—including specialty products and services.
Dr. Glover says that in the nearly six years he’s been practicing at MyEyeDr., he’s found it to be “like working for a private practice on steroids.” With the ability to practice full-scope optometry, he says combining the strong medical focus of his practice while also providing retail optometry services has been a great benefit: “With MyEyeDr., I’m able to combine the best of both worlds, and give my patients exactly what they need.”
With a system that supports work-life balance, Dr. Glover says working with MyEyeDr. also allows him to focus on his other passions and projects outside of work. “It’s just a phenomenal company to work for,” Dr. Glover adds. “It feels like a family and I love that.”
Diverse communities, inclusive practice
When asked about MyEyeDr.’s diversity and inclusion efforts, both doctors say they’ve been impressed by what they’ve seen. Underscoring his own Vietnamese heritage, Dr. Phi says he believes it’s a diverse organization with a combination of different types of practices in both low- and high-income areas. He says MyEyeDr. also tries to hire out of the communities they serve and quickly responded in a supportive way to the Black Lives Matter movement as it gained momentum, providing resources to help everyone feel supported.
He sees such efforts as a way to remind each individual who belongs to the MyEyeDr. community that this is a safe place where they can focus on all that’s important to them. “MyEyeDr. has created a system in which it feels like you can be yourself and your identity is safe and protected with the group of people you spend your career with,” Dr. Phi says.
As co-founder of Black Eyecare Perspective, Dr. Glover is passionate about diversity and inclusion within the eyecare industry. “It’s been phenomenal,” he says about the support he’s received from MyEyeDr. in his efforts to combine his work there with his work at Black Eyecare Perspective. In addition, MyEyeDr. has also supported his organization’s work with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the ongoing Impact HBCU Initiative to offer black students insights on, in his words, “how sexy optometry is.”
Noting the extensive diversity throughout every level of the organization, Dr. Glover says MyEyeDr. understands the importance of having diverse teams for overall success: “They’ve been very instrumental to my success as an Optometrist practicing, but also to really be able to reach the unrepresented.”
Benefits at MyEyeDr.
As far as the benefits of working at MyEyeDr., Dr. Phi underscores the competitive pay that includes a base salary and production bonuses; a 401K program ; competitive paid time off; and eyecare benefits for the entire family: “The base salary gives you security and the production bonuses allow you to give yourself a raise. So, it really gives you control and autonomy over your level of compensation with unlimited earning potential.”
Additional benefits include coverage for things like association dues, licensing, and continuing education support. Dr. Phi says such offerings are geared toward helping ODs be more involved in the evolution of the profession of optometry and the eyecare industry. He also emphasizes how valuable the support system is at MyEyeDr., which optimizes clinical and business operations in a way that ensures each professional gets the right type of support from their peers.
Dr. Glover emphasizes the importance of being with an organization that aligns with his values; the amount of diversity within the organization; and the consistent support that practices receive—even in tough times. “What really touched and impacted me was that when COVID-19 hit, a lot of practices were closing down and trying to figure out how to save their money. MyEyeDr. did the complete opposite and paid doctors the entire time. It reflected well on management and shows that MyEyeDr. takes care of their doctors. They don't just leave us out in the cold. They actually make sure we’re okay so we can take care of our families,” he says.
Dr. Glover says MyEyeDr. also provides the support and guidance ODs need to deal with problems that arise and to take advantage of new opportunities, as well as making it possible to be involved in their local communities in a variety of ways: “We are more than just a big force in the United States—we also operate on the ground level in our communities.”
What is a typical day at MyEyeDr. like?
Dr. Glover says that although he did a lot of dry eye treatment and management previously, he was only able to see a limited number of patients. However, since being with MyEyeDr. he’s been able to take his practice to the next level since he now has the support staffing needed—as well as access to new technologies. As far as his daily routine, he typically sees approximately 16 to 18 patients a day with a variety of needs: “I'm seeing everything from routine eye exams to medical office visits and helping my team with problem-solving in the optical department, too.”
Of those 16 to 18 patients, Dr. Glover says he probably sees three to four patients an hour for routine eye exams and one or two for medical issues. With the COVID-19 safety precautions needed, scheduling has to be flexible to allow for social distancing measures. His office hours are reflective of the patient demand and can vary depending upon the particular needs of the day. That kind of schedule allows him to do what’s needed while he’s in the office, but finish early enough to enjoy family time, too.
My Experience at MyEyeDr.
Dr. Phi says his experience at MyEyeDr. has benefited his professional growth both as a clinician and within a business context by deepening his awareness of the growth opportunities at his fingertips: “Historically, I never really looked at numbers because it wasn’t something I cared that much about. But MyEyeDr. has such a robust system that monitors these things that I started paying attention. Then I realized I had a lot of growth opportunities.”
Through such insights, Dr. Phi says he began to understand how he could provide better care for his patients by simply tweaking his technique or communicating in a more effective way. He says as a result, “I grew massively and unexpectedly and gained the opportunity to scale myself to potentially influence more offices, more people, and more doctors.”
For Dr. Glover, professional growth at MyEyeDr. has also been linked to the tools and support provided—especially in terms of continuing education and resources that can be offered to patients. He says the funds allocated for continuing education and access to in-house programs available through MyEyeDr. “help us sharpen our skills so we can give the ultimate patient care.”
Advice for Others
Dr. Phi says one of the things he’d tell others is how surprised he’s been regarding the amount of growth he’s experienced at MyEyeDr. and how being part of a robust support network made such a difference. “Practicing without that kind of support can make you feel like you have to figure everything out on your own,” he says. “I’m not an island anymore, and I’m grateful for that.”
Dr. Phi would also encourage ODs or optometry students to put aside their concerns about working within a company that has investors, partners, or support from private equity. Noting that many are uncomfortable with references to corporate structures and private equity, he says these are just systems that provide the support, resources, and power needed to help ODs achieve their goals. He wants others to know that the culture at MyEyeDr. is “very positive and patient-focused.”
Dr. Glover says he’d tell others it’s simply the best place to work if they want the most from their careers: “If you're looking for the biggest impact you can make in eyecare, you want to be a part of the team. You want to make sure you align yourself with a team that's going to be able to give the ultimate patient care, but also a team that truly cares about their doctors. And that's what MyEyeDr. does.”