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Get to Know Gordon Jennings, OD, New VSP Global Chairman of the Board

By as EYE SEE it Writers February 13, 2019

VSP Global sat down recently with new chairman of the board, Dr. Gordon Jennings, to learn more about his background and interests, his goals in the new role, and his thoughts on the future of optometry.

VSP: Where are you from?

Dr. Jennings: I was born and raised in southwest Virginia, on a cattle farm that is still operated by my family today. My practice is located in Wytheville, VA, a rural town on the western side of the state. 

VSP: How did you get into optometry?

Dr. Jennings: After college, I decided to follow in the footsteps of my granduncle who was an OD. He reminded me of a favorite comedian of mine, Jackie Gleason. He was well-liked in the community and patients loved him. It was obvious he enjoyed his work, and this made a positive impression on me as a young man.

I spent my days at optometry school and my evenings working at a large hospital in the pulmonary rehabilitation department—an experience that sparked my interest in the medical side of patient care.

Following graduation, I went to work for an established optometry practice, but at the time there were limited therapeutic privileges available to the profession. To satisfy my interest in the medical care of patients, I worked part-time at an ophthalmology clinic and hospital in Princeton, West Virginia. This is where I met the man who would become my mentor, ophthalmologist and surgeon Theodore P. Werblin, MD, PhD. Dr. Werblin played a very influential role in my career—during 15 years of working together, together, the experiences gained contributed significantly to a successful and very fulfilling career in eyecare.

Ultimately, I went on to take over the private optometry practice where I was working and have been practicing in this location ever since.

VSP: What brought you to VSP?

I have always been very involved with SECO International, even acting as their president for a term. VSP is a long-time SECO sponsor, so this is where our paths crossed. I was very impressed by the company and all they do to support the industry and private practice doctors. It was then that my relationship with VSP started, and it’s been a positive experience for me and my practice ever since.

VSP: What are your goals as chairman of the board?

I am honored and delighted to move into this leadership position with the VSP Global Board of Directors. My goal is to collaborate with the Board and management to grow membership and ensure years of future success for network doctors. These are rapidly changing times with little time to react. We want to be prepared to make quick, strategic decisions when industry challenges arise, so that we can continue to achieve our mission of providing access to affordable, high-quality eye care and eyewear around the world.

VSP: What advice would you give to those just entering or considering the profession?

Optometry’s been a great profession for me. Independent practice was predominantly all there was when I started, but today’s world offers a broad spectrum of practice types with several avenues and opportunities to align with your professional interests. While there are many professions where jobs may go away, there’s always a need for optometry—changing demographics confirm this. As I see it, it’s hard to find something more gratifying or fulfilling than this profession, and our future is bright.

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