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A Pathway to Growth

By Michelle King, OD November 23, 2020

As a second-generation optometrist, you could say optometry is in my blood. I grew up around my mom’s private practice, where patients were treated like family, and I am continuing that legacy today in my own growing practice.

COVID-19 impacted our practice like it did most others. During the eight weeks that we were closed to routine care, we did our best to continue to serve our patients, maintaining a small crew to handle emergencies, complete and dispense jobs in progress, mail eyewear, and fill prescriptions. The extension of the VSP Primary EyeCare Plan to all members during that time was really helpful, allowing us to assist even more patients in need. My favorite pandemic patient story was an essential worker, a truck driver, with eye pain and decreased vision whose wife had been calling around frantically trying to get him seen. We brought him in, diagnosed him with iritis, and quickly got him the medication he needed so he could get back on the road—without ever having to step into a crowded Emergency Room.

When not providing emergency care, we spent the downtime getting up to speed on a number of topics and obtaining CE credits through Premier Academy360 from VSP Global. We also took advantage of the many reopening resources that helped us get ready to reopen for routine care. Once we did, the process was smooth but gradual, and we are happy to report that we are at about 80-90% of our pre-COVID patient flow. We were also pleased to bring back all the staff, including a new associate we hired just before the pandemic started.

We hired our new doctor early this year to support the growth of our practice. It was really important to find the right person—someone who fit with our culture, was highly qualified, and who shared our philosophy of caring for patients like family. In the past, we have tapped our local society, optometry schools, and other channels for candidates. This time we decided to try Premier Pathways from VSP Global. The process was so easy—we filled out a questionnaire and then met with a senior recruiter who developed an attractive custom ad for us. The job listing was so well thought out and professional—it definitely exceeded our expectations. Within days, we had responses from highly qualified candidates who met all our requirements and even our wish list items. After three interviews, we selected our new doctor. The entire process took about a month. We were really pleased and are already working with Premier Pathways on our next hire.

In addition to staffing assistance and education opportunities, there are many benefits we’ve experienced through partnering with VSP and being part of the Premier Program. It starts when we answer the phone at the practice—which I do on occasion. One of the first questions is often, “Do you accept VSP?” To which, we respond, “Yes, we do. In fact, we’re a Premier Program location.” That usually solidifies the deal, and patients make the decision to come to us. We also appreciate the partner savings on popular brands such as Maui Jim, Gucci, and YSL, and our patients love the discounts we pass along to them. Lastly, we benefit from the My Marketing Team marketing tools, which help us engage with our patients through social media.

There is no question that these times are challenging for us all. Nevertheless, as my practice continues to grow, I am optimistic about my future and the future of our profession. As I see it, there will always be changes and obstacles to navigate—the future is bright for those of us who are passionate about our work and are willing to adapt and grow.

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