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The Chance to Be a Hero

By Ric Rios, OD February 15, 2019

I knew when I was in eighth grade that I wanted to be an optometrist. I got glasses when I was six and contacts at 12, and because I spent so much time at the eye doctor, I decided right then that that’s what I wanted to be. I even wrote to optometry schools when I was 14. Fast‐forward a few years, and now I’m leading a booming practice with 25 employees and thousands of patients. Today, I couldn’t be more excited about private practice optometry—the freedom and opportunity it gives me to improve people’s lives and to be someone’s hero.

Being a private practice owner, I have the freedom to practice at whatever level that I want. As the optometric industry has changed over the years, I, like many of my peers, have evolved to stay relevant with it. In my practice, we evolved with the medical field and have become a very medically‐oriented practice. We do specialty contacts, dry eye, myopia prevention, macular disease prevention, glaucoma treatment, children’s exams. You name it. That wouldn’t be as feasible in another type of practice setting, with restrictions on our time and the equipment we use. I think that to survive in this industry, you have to look at the medical model to some degree. It’s a great benefit to patients, and students coming out of school are well‐versed on these topics and well‐equipped to start practicing in that mode. 

My favorite thing about private practice optometry, and the field in general, is that we get to be heroes. I was talking to a patient recently about how you rarely hear about people going blind like they used to. Back when I was a kid, you’d have an aunt or an uncle, a grandfather, or friend who went blind from macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, or a detached retina. We don't see that as much nowadays because technology allows us to detect these diseases early and to help treat them. Now, we get to be the ones who are in there, finding problems early and stopping them in their tracks.

Whether treating the professional athlete who breaks into tears when his new specialty contacts enable him to see clearly, the pilot who will now get his license back, the person with dry eyes who will no longer suffer every day, or the person who walks in with broken, unwearable glasses and walks out with shiny new ones… to me, there is really nothing more rewarding than making somebody’s life better. 

VSP Global has been a great partner from the beginning—first, as a vehicle to let people know we existed; and then to support us as we’ve grown our business. We are all‐in with VSP—we use VSP laboratories and VSP products—and our practice has skyrocketed as a result. 

I sometimes think we have maximized everything VSP has to offer, and then we have a meeting with our rep and learn about even more things we could be doing to grow the practice. The Premier Program, specifically, provides substantial value. Patients seek out Premier locations so they can maximize their benefits and receive enhanced services. As a result, we are seeing more patients, and patient satisfaction has gone up. I would recommend everybody learn more about it.

 

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