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A Voice of Experience

on June 30th, 2008 | Filed under Optoblog

I keep hearing this type of comment: “I don’t understand you. I’ve read your blog when you were in private practice versus now. I don’t think you know what you want out of life.”

They seem to be saying that I’m a flip flopper and must be some unhappy individual who is lost. You can’t discredit me because I’ve experienced three major forms of practice. Someone who has experienced government, private, and various flavors of commercial is not a lost soul, but rather he is an experienced voice.

I implore all students and new O.D.s to listen to my words. If you would like the security of government work and don’t mind living in remote locations, then by all means be a government optometrist. If you want to be able to live in more populated areas, than choose commercial practice over private and choose Wal-Mart over all other commercial options.

In my previous posts advocating private practice and demonizing commercial, I had been drinking the private practice cool-aid that I’d been served since optometry school. Some of the disparaging remarks against commercial hold true for many brands of opticals, but not Wal-Mart.

Private practice is too risky. Sure, you know or have at least heard about successful private practice businesses, but you can’t assume that things would go well for you if you were to hang up a shingle. The money it takes now days to start cold could be better invested in Vegas. It’s a crapshoot, heavy on the crap because the frame vendors, the lens suppliers, ophthalmic equipment companies, the financing company, the advertising people, the landlords, the employees and more all get their money from you. But when do you get paid? Paying all of those people doesn’t automatically bring patients in the door. And when will you actually get enough patients to break even? That could be never, you know. You may just have to close shop when the money dries up, like I did.

Wal-Mart makes it risk free. There will always be patients coming to your door. Your success is only limited by the number of hours you are willing to work. That’s why if you want to be rich, make and sell widgets. If you want to do eyecare, work for the government or Wal-Mart, depending on where you want to live.

Anyway, just because I’m giving advice from my experience doesn’t mean I’m somehow lost or unhappy. I have family, religion, and a great job inside a Wal-Mart Vision Center. Of course I’m happy.

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2 Responses to “A Voice of Experience”

  1. private OD says:

    I feel yes, you may have gotten burned but I opened cold 3 years ago and I am doing very well. Comparing a successful cold opening to a Wal-mart is amazing. I wish you the best but I hope students don’t look too much into your blog.

  2. Since I’m one of the very few optometrists who blog about these issues, then of course students are going to look into my blog. If you would like to extol the virtues of private practice to counteract the poison I’m feeding the poor, unwitting optometry students, then please start a blog.

    Your start-up private practice may grow and you might even be in the news, but in today’s world that is not a guarantee. Students should have someone who takes away the rose-colored glasses so they can face the realities of today’s marketplace. They must make their own decision about whether they want to take a risk which could just as easily lead to bankruptcy rather than success. Our profession and the current market isn’t like the Field of Dreams anymore.

    In retrospect, I would rather choose a practice modality that allows me to just be a doctor without worrying about how I’m going to provide for my family.