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Preserving My Legacy

By Elisabeth Swan, OD December 22, 2020

I fell into optometry by accident. I was a biology major wanting to be a veterinarian, and heard veterinary school was very competitive. A friend recommended optometry; I applied to school, got accepted, and it was the best decision of my life. I ultimately opened my own practice, which over the years became my family and an integral part of my community. As I look towards retirement, I am determined to preserve that legacy for generations to come.

The Early Years

Initially, I was skeptical about owning my own business following graduation. But, after I was unable to find fulltime work in northern Nevada, where I had received a grant to go to school, I used a loan from my parents to start a practice cold. Shortly after I opened, Altair approached me and asked if I’d like consignment frames to fill my boards so I didn’t have to spend a lot of money on frames. And, thus started my relationship with VSP.

Joining the VSP Global Premier Program was probably the best thing that happened to my practice. The benefits are extensive, starting with the increased exposure when patients search for doctors on the vsp.com Find a Doctor directory. They can see we’re a Premier Program location that offers digital retinal imaging and extra savings on frames, extended frame warranties, special offers on brands like Maui Jim and Nike, and more.

My Patients are My Family

I have many favorite patient stories from the past several years. Albeit a little biased, my all-time favorite patient has to be my older brother. He was one of my very first patients and was so proud of me. He used to say, “Wow, you’re a doctor! That’s so cool!” He died suddenly about 20 years ago, and it was devastating. All my patients were so wonderful and sent me cards and reached out to me. That was when I realized what private practice is—it’s your family, your community.

Being part of my community is what I love most about private practice. I live a mile from my office, so my friends and neighbors are my patients—and we treat our patients like family. During COVID, one of my patients lost his job and his insurance, and then his frames broke. My husband, a retired frame rep, combed through the hundreds of samples we still have in our garage until he found one that fit. We inserted the lenses and returned the glasses to my grateful patient. This is what private practice and what community is about.

The Future

As I look towards retirement, it’s important to me to preserve the sense of community that I have spent years cultivating. That’s why I reached out to VSP Ventures when I was considering my exit strategy. I liked their commitment to keeping my practice an integral part of the community so my patients can stay part of the practice family and continue to get excellent vision care. VSP Ventures was so professional and thorough, ensuring they understood every detail about my practice, especially its core values.

Ironically, three weeks after my sale to Ventures, we were closed for the pandemic. Ventures stood by us; they supported our doctors and staff as we provided essential care to our community; they organized everything for us to reopen, including procuring the PPE needed to keep us and our patients safe; and they stayed in contact with us every step of the way. Now that we are back open, I am relishing getting to care for patients without having to worry about managing the business side of the practice.

I love my profession—it’s amazing how much optometry has evolved in the 30 years since I graduated, and continues to grow. I am very optimistic about the future of my practice. As I see it, I have spent years establishing the practice’s integral role in the community, and I am delighted that it will serve my patients for years to come.

You can find more information about VSP Ventures here.

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