Life is Passing Me By (another don’t let your babies grow up to be optometrists post)

Ah, yes. Summer is in the air. Bar-b-cues, baseball games, blockbuster movies. Those are some things I’ve been able to enjoy so far. Not on the list is camping, traveling, and outside summer fun. You see, I’m an optometrist. I spend all day inside until about 7:00 PM. I do this six days a week.

I planned on becoming an optometrist because I had observed that they work Monday through Friday, 9-5. Not so in today’s market place. Today’s eyecare consumer demands Saturday and evening appointments so as not to interfere with their work. Sure, if they have to schedule a physical with their PCP, that might be worthy enough to take off work, but the eye doctor…nope.

Some background on my situation. I left a great Indian Health Service career to pursue my whimsical fantasy of private practice. You see, I wanted to live near extended family, but there weren’t any openings available with IHS. I had the belief system that corporate optometry is the devil, so I had to open a private practice.

Before being able to open my private practice doors, I had to work commercial while the loans and build-out fell into place. I learned too late the corporate isn’t the devil. It’s only individual optometrists who don’t practice to their potential that make a bad name for corporate. Of course, this is true for private as well.

Now, since my private practice didn’t take off for me like I was expecting, I work commercial 4 days a week and my private practice 2 1/2 days a week. No, I don’t have a ton of money. In fact, I’m up to my eyeballs in debt. My private practice is losing money and my corporate income barely covers the losses. My wife wonders if we’ll ever be able to move out of an apartment and into a house.

The only people winning is this scenario are the frame vendors, the labs, the contact lens companies, the equipment vendors, and the financing companies. Everybody but the optometrist.

My message on this Father’s Day is: “Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be [optometrists].” For those of you who have already committed to oppie school, I would suggest that if you for some strange reason pursue the open-cold-private-practice nightmare dream, go small. Bootstrap instead of going big because that leads to one thing: going broke.