SOLutioN: Learning From the Future of Private Practice

By Mary Anne C. Murphy, OD July 06, 2016

We have moments in our careers that remind us what made us choose the profession of optometry. For some, it is the occasion that we provide children with their first pair of glasses and see that smile as they first notice the leaves on trees. For others, it is fitting that complicated patient with specialty contact lenses and being told, through tears, that they didn't ever think they would see that well again.

For me, and many others, it can also be the moment you speak to optometry students and see the glimmer in their eye as they describe why they chose our profession. The stories are inspiring. I recently had such an opportunity at the annual Student Private Practice Leadership Conference. 

The Private Practice Student Optometric Leadership Network (SOLutioN) is a select group of inspiring students that have chosen to “provide national unification and recognition of student optometric private practice and practice management organizations, support and connect local organization leaders, and promote the future of private-practice optometry.” This is a group of young people that see opportunity around every corner, are hungry for knowledge, and are keen to make private practice a reality in their futures. I was asked to speak to this group about my personal journey to pursue a career in optometry.  

My career journey was set to music—country music. I’m able to remember when in my life something happened based on the country song that I connected to at the time, so I chose to tell my story as such. Whether it was Garth Brooks crooning or Florida Georgia Line belting out a harmony, I picture myself either studying for boards or creating my personal private practice business plan with the music playing loudly in the background. Regardless of the backdrop, many of us have worked really hard to get where we are. We’ve overcome obstacles both personally and financially to achieve the successes we have—and the eyes of these students tell me they have their own stories, and they’re only just beginning to write it.  

Preparing for a presentation to this group forced me to look back at all the things it took to build a private practice, and in doing so, reminded me that I didn't get here in a one-man kayak. There has always been a team of people supporting me, whether it was family, friends, mentors, instructors, colleagues, neighbors, or patients. Acknowledging these “teammates” reminded me that many were worthy of praise and gratitude that I never expressed and have recently reached out to do so. The most recent song in the background has been Tim McGraw's "Humble and Kind." It has served as a gentle reminder to remember those who have supported me and to thank them.

I hope this summer, as you spend time with family and friends, you might see this as an opportunity to thank those whom you’ve leaned on during your optometric journey. To write a handwritten note is almost unheard of, but the exercise will create a lasting impression. Furthermore, I hope you will find the time to mentor a student or a new practitioner. In doing so, I’m confident I have learned more from each of the students I have worked with than they have learned from me. 

To learn more about how VSP Global supports the advancement of optometry visit, click here. If you’re a student of optometry, VSP Global is here to support you along your path to the profession and beyond. Click here to get in touch with a VSP Global student relations manager to learn more. 

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