Rema Idriss

Choosing Private Practice Optometry

By Rema Idriss December 08, 2020

When I was a child, my family traveled to different countries as my parents sought a better life for us. During that time, I developed a fascination for the medical field and volunteered in medical groups whenever I could. I experienced firsthand the difficulty of delivering effective healthcare in a resource-constrained setting and knew that I wanted to be a doctor one day.

We immigrated to the United States when I was fourteen, and through high school and undergrad, I shadowed different specialties in the medical field. The first time I considered optometry was when I went to pick up my glasses and one of the employees at the optometry practice, who knew of my interest in medicine, suggested I shadow an amazing optometrist she knew. I shadowed that doctor for one day and just fell in love with the profession and private practice. The patient-doctor relationship was so different from the other specialties I had explored—I loved how the doctor had the time to sit down with patients, listen to their concerns, and educate them on their ocular health. After that day, I knew that private practice optometry was for me.

My relationship with VSP started my first year of optometry school. Being a member of the inaugural class at the Chicago College of Optometry, we had no private practice club and no upper classmen to give us advice. I wanted to start a private practice club on campus, so I reached out to a friend at another optometry school who introduced me to VSP. VSP participated in our very first event and has supported the club from day one. Being a part of the private practice club has been such an integral piece of my education—school teaches you what you need to know to get a good GPA and good Board scores; the private practice club is where you learn about the “real world” and everything else that goes into owning a practice.  

VSP has also supported me and other students with grants and scholarships that enable us to go to industry conferences to further our education. VSP and AAOF (American Academy of Optometry Foundation) recently awarded me the 2020 Practice Excellence award, which recognizes fourth year students who demonstrate excellence in both academic and clinical performance and a commitment to pursuing the independent practice of optometry upon graduation. I had heard about the award many times, but to be chosen was such an honor.

As I look towards graduation, I am very excited about my future as a Doctor of Optometry. I plan to work in a private practice setting, specializing in anterior segment disease and contact lenses. I would like to travel to different private practice clubs and speak to the students about private practice, business management, and our profession. And, I would love to go on mission trips to provide free eye care to those who need it.

I am also very optimistic about the future of our profession. It’s exciting how optometry is always evolving—at one point, optometrists couldn’t prescribe glaucoma drops, and today we can do minor surgical procedures. I love the fact that as Doctors of Optometry we can make a big difference in people’s lives. As I see it, success is found in the little things we do each day that make that difference.

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