“I think the best optical training one may receive as an optician is from their fellow peers. This is where most of my education and training has come with Spex. I rely heavily on the knowledge of other opticians with much more experience, our managers who have background working in optical labs, and the confidence of our doctors. Yes, doctors will share information with you if you ask questions.”

“We communicate by social media, phone calls, texts, emails, and our blog. Lately we communicate in much the same way to Millennial and older clients. This is because most of our older clients seem to be very tech savvy. It used to be that our older clients were not as likely as our younger clients to want text notifications when their glasses were finished, but that has now changed.”

“Best practices are best practices for a reason: they work. In some ways, I try to look back to how previous doctors managed patients without the benefits of what I take for granted. Patient needs haven't changed in over 100 years, much like the phoropter. The one thing that has changed, or at least come back full circle, is an appreciation for the craft. People are again starting to appreciate an individualized approach and a certain level of quality found in this way of doing business.”

“It will be interesting to see what happens in the next several year, from the billing and coding system changes, to EMR adaptations, to the technology in eyewear. Google Glass was a little ahead of its time but I think we will definitely see some tech in eyewear still come back around to something as advanced as Glass.”

“I see myself and optometry in general taking more of a primary care role for our patients. We have to continue to do our duty to inform the public and our patients about what we do and what services we are capable of providing. I also see more optometrists finding niche ways of practicing to set themselves apart more and find other ways to grow their practices. I think we have to constantly be reassessing ourselves and our practices to find ways to differentiate ourselves, stay relevant and stay current."

“I have seen so many changes in the last couple years alone with insurance companies, and I foresee many more in the next five to 10 years. Sadly as these insurance companies start monopolizing the industry, our freedom to choose premium products and use superior labs are taken away. When insurance companies start dictating which labs we can use, we lose our ability to offer our patients quality products in a timely fashion. I would love to see opticians being given the freedom, once again, to do what's best for our patients.”

“My father is a local optometrist and has had several practices throughout the past 30+ years. When I graduated college my father suggested that I work for him until I figured out what I wanted to do. I immediately fell in love with the customer interaction, as well as the hands on work. I was trained by an optician from a much older generation. In my opinion the ‘optician’ has really changed. You look at the big box stores and most of their ‘opticians’ are salespeople. I have made it a point to learn every aspect of optical dispensing from the manufacturing processes, to the physics of ophthalmic lenses, to the way the human eye works.”

“The unexpected challenges have mostly been associated with learning my management style and how to effectively lead a team. When you're a new graduate and still trying to figure things out how you prefer things to be done, a flexible team that's willing to grow with you is key. Particularly with a cold start practice, developing a solid office culture from the beginning and not hesitating to part ways with those who aren't on board with your plan is critical.”

“I actively follow and participate in the online blog DailyOptician and I’ve also subscribed to as many online publications and newsletters possible, including Vision Monday. Getting emailed current information and articles pertaining to everything from frame designer merges to new technology in digital lenses helps me become more rounded in my knowledge of the field.”

“I wanted to try multiple modalities of practice, so I established myself in multiple offices, which has given me an immense amount of experience and variety in my patient care each week. I work in private practice, HMO, low-income clinic, and also teach and do research at UC Berkeley. Initially, I wanted to see which one fit best, then narrow my career to that. However, I was surprised to find that I enjoy aspects of each and the variability of patient demographics throughout the week.”

“I currently work in an independent boutique specializing in unique eyewear. It’s completely different than an OD run practice in that we rely almost completely on walk-ins and don’t have guaranteed traffic. This puts more emphasis on the marketing and community outreach parts of the business; we have to make a splash in the community and think outside the box to reach new clientele. This has been a unique adventure and I have learned so much about driving business and participating in community outreach events to connect with future clients.”