@optotrician: Time for an Eye Exam

Don't talk to Willie!
Don’t talk to Willie!
Our Walmart Vision Center has a life-size poster of a tough-looking beared guy from Duck Dynasty. Someone thought it would be fun to put a Walmart name tag with the name “Willie” on it.

It’s strange having Willie in the optical because you see him out of the corner of your eye and you instinctively have to look over at him to see who’s there, but the then you feel stupid because you’ve already told yourself a thousand times before that Willie is just a cardboard picture.

The other day, an optician saw a lady trying to talk to Willie and asking a question. Of course it was only for a few seconds, but it was a couple seconds longer than most people would talk to a cardboard picture.

The VC manager decided to take the name badge of Willie after that. Now most people just come over and have a picture taken with cardboard Willie.

Undergrad, I Don’t Want to Sugarcoat Optometry

Over at Student Doctor Networks – Optometry Forums some undergrad started a thread about me.

Am I real? Yes. Maybe you could have read more than just one of the 340+ posts on my blog? Maybe you could have looked at the side bar and seen the link to my twitter feed and my practice website?

Do I hate optometry? Nope. I like it fine. Sure, I’d rather be a rock star, but that will have to wait for now.

Did I make a whole bunch of inflammatory blog posts? Yes. But I can’t please everybody. I like Walmart optometry more than private practice for numerous reasons, but not the least of which is I feel like less of a salesman and more like the doctor I was trained to be. I think you can get that in other settings too, but I don’t want to work for the government anymore. I’m not academic enough to be a professor, and I don’t want to be an OMD’s “super-tech.”

In private practice, everyone else got paid…except me. The frame reps, the contact lens distributors, and labs, the staff, the landlord, , the bank, the equipment vendors…they all get their money up front or first thing. You, the doctor, get paid last…if at all. Risky.

if you like taking risks, then why not take a better bet in a different profession selling or manufacturing widgets with less restriction on maximum possible income?

Undergrad, if you really want to be a private practice optometrist, go ahead. I won’t stop you. I would ask you why you would gamble so much when you could practice in a setting with MUCH less risk. It does work out well for lots of O.D.’s, but that doesn’t mean it will work well for you.

By the way, I don’t think pointing these things out should be labeled “negative.” It’s reality. There are pluses and minuses to every profession. Undergrad, I don’t want to sugarcoat your potential career choice. I once thought I was going to be an architect because I wanted to design houses. I actually talked with an architect and found out very few architects design houses because most people buy their plan from a catalog. Most architects design banks and rest-stop bathrooms and other utilitarian buildings. That’s not what I would be happy with, so I switched majors. I’m thankful that architect shot straight. If you don’t believe me, then I hope you talk with an optometrist that you can trust who will also shoot straight.

Now, knowing more of the risks and potential negatives, if you still want to be an optometrist, then at least you’re not going into this blind. You won’t be able to say, “Why didn’t anyone tell me it would be this way?”

Anyway, I’ve spoken enough about this subject. I need to get back to writing/selling the next great screenplay so I can have a retirement.

Answers to Your Search Questions – Part 2

In my first edition of Answers to Your Search Questions – Part 1, I answered 20 questions…as a public service. I’m at it again in Part 2. Again the idea is that people have come to my site from a web search, looking for answers. I am now going to explicitly answer them (explicitly as in specifically and openly-not the other way you were thinking about).

  1. “Biofinity contacts” – Okay, I made a huge mistake by thinking that someone was out to get Biofinity, and I’ve never been able to live it down. It’s by far the most hit blog entry on my site. Big egg on my face. I should take the post down, but I hear that’s bad form, so I just made another post retracting my error. Please, let’s just put all this behind us. It’s not like I forgot to pay $130K in taxes or something (oh, wait, that’s rewarded in this country).
  2. “optometrist blog” and “optometry blog” – Nothing to say here. I don’t even have one snarky comment.
  3. “can you get rich working as a walmart optometrist” – No, but to be fair, you can’t get rich being any kind of optometrist.
  4. “getting around vsp at walmart” – I find it hard to believe an optometrist would want to be this unethical; however, you could try getting paneled to VSP at a private practice. Then advise VSP that you need to update the practice location address (to your Walmart location but you don’t say that). Eventually they will discover your deceit when they figure out that you aren’t selling any eyewear, but at least you stuck it to them for a little while. You should also do the same for EyeMed. Then you should go rob a bank and kidnap someone for ransom.
  5. “2008 better than oasys contact lenses biofinity” – I would say that in the year 2008 Acuvue Oasys sold more pairs than Biofinity, so you could make an argument that it’s better. On the other hand, Biofinity just came out with 1 week extended wear and it’s a one month lens whereas in the U.S., Oasys is a two week lens, so Biofinity comes out on top for cost-effectiveness. I would say try them both and see what you think. Ask your eye doctor if extended wear is right for your eyes in these lenses.
  6. “http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/optometrysucks/message/1424” – This isn’t a web search but it does show that someone in that Yahoo group linked to me. I’ve said before that I don’t condone this group, or rather, it’s name. Optometry definitely doesn’t suck. If you aren’t in it, be aware of it’s problems before getting in so that we have less whiners.
  7. “acuvue oasys vs biofinity” – I normally wear Ciba Night and Day, but I’ve tried both of these. I’ve even done Biofinity on extended wear. I like it. Anyway, see above. Ask your eye doctor if extended wear is right for your eyes and contact lens material.
  8. “officemate eyecare software crack” – You know, the yearly fee to keep Officemate up and running is around $1200. I’m sure you could pay some kid less than that to come up with a crack. But then, why stop there? I hear robbing banks and kidnapping for ransom will also help you have more money to spend.
  9. “s codes in optometry and dilation fees” – The last billing expert I heard said that you can’t charge extra for dilation. S codes are awesome. I use them all the time.
  10. “how to make the most out of being optometrist” – Start a blog for your personal therapy. Make sure you get plenty of time away from work. When you get sick and tired of explaining presbyopia or saying “which is better,” then try to imagine what you will be doing after work. You’ll say the same things over and over again so much that you could say them on autopilot, leaving you to think about other stuff, like your next blog entry.
  11. “optometrist wedding favors” – Okay, that’s just weird. Can’t you let them be just a person on their wedding day? Why do you have to remind them of work?
  12. “bad things about being an optometrist” – I think there is a Yahoo groups site about this.
  13. “what do eye doctors think of their jobs” – I can’t speak for everybody, but I like it. There are much worse jobs.
  14. “optometrist lifestyle” – We run around in private planes, eat caviar, and schmooze with celebrities and politicians. When we’re not doing that, we’re working in a dark room, saying the same things over and over.

Okay, that will do. As I collect more data, I’ll be sure to respond in future editions.

Answers to Your Search Questions – Part 1

You may not realize it, but I know the web page you visited just before coming to my site. So for example, if you went to Google and did a search for “optometry blog,” I see in my logs that you just came from the site “http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&fkt=1859&fsdt=5568&q=optometry+blog&btnG=Google+Search”
(By the way, I’m number one on the list today. You could be if you bothered to blog.)

It’s really interesting to see what search terms get people to my site. I think it would be even more interesting to analyze and respond to questions implied by people’s search keywords. As a public service, I will now respond to actual search terms and attempt to answer any implied questions. Seriously, I am not making these up. It is not a comprehensive list, but these particular ones make good blogging fodder.

  1. “career switch from optometry” – I hear ya’, brother, but do you really want to throw away four extra years of school and over $150K? Is optometry really that bad?
  2. “do optometrists make lots of money?” – Yes, they put a question mark in their search. No, we don’t is the short answer, but more on specifics down the list.
  3. “why become an optometrist” – Only because you love it, but that begs the question: How do you know if you would love it unless you already became an optometrist?
  4. “easiest optometry school to get into” – Okay, first of all, this person hopefully won’t get into optometry school, but I think it’s safe to say that the answer to the quesiton is Pacific University because, hey, they took me. (That was a joke.)
  5. “walmart optometrist average salaries” – There are only a few optometrists in the country actually employed by Walmart. In many states that scenario is illegal (stupid government interference.) Walmart optometrists working on a contracted lease only make what they get from exam fees, so it’s not a salary because you aren’t guaranteed an income. The Optometric Business Academy publishes a yearly survey of Walmart and Sam’s Club affiliated optometrists and the median gross fee income is: $161K for 2007 and $167,473 for 2008. Keep in mind your net will be at least 20% less.
  6. “optometry debt” – I don’t have any statistics, but most of my class was around $100-150K and that was 2003. Now a days it’s becoming debatable whether the loan debt is worth your potential income. The actual numbers for indebtedness for 2005 averaged for all schools is $125685 (from ASCO under data and surveys).
  7. “AOA optometry dues too high” – Yes, I agree. Next question.
  8. “average number of new patients seen for start up optometric practice” – Um, try zero.
  9. “how to become an optometrist” – First, get good grades in high school. Then get good grades at college (state universities are just fine). Schmooze influential faculty members your first two years of college to get a good recommendation letter for your optometry school application. Take the OAT and get a good score. Then apply for optometry school your third year of college. Get an interview and do really well. Get accepted to optometry school. Take out $150K in student loans. Get good grades in optometry school. Take the NBEO and pass all sections. Graduate. Get a state license when your NBEO passing scores are released. Do temp work from May to July of your graduation year (I made frozen dinners). Start practicing around July of your graduation year. Wow, you know, for all the same work you could have entered a career field that pays better or entered a field that pays just as much but requires less time and loan money.
  10. “what should you know about optometry” – well, for starters see the previous question. You should also know that you are paid according to how many exams you do. You can only do so many exams, and people will only be willing to pay so much for an exam, so already you are limiting yourself. If you want to make some real money you need to consider a career field that allows you to sell an infinite amount of widgets to anyone, anywhere in the world.
  11. “How to make optometrist buy from you.” – As I’ve said before, that shouldn’t be too hard. He or she chose to became an optometrist so they are easier to fool.
  12. “what pays better, a pharmacist or optometrist” – They pay the same, but the pharmacist doesn’t have $150K in student loan debt. People point out that pharmacists have to work late hours and weekends, but optometry is quickly heading in that direction.
  13. “when did eye exams become so expensive?” – Ever since the optometrist hired a practice consultant. (Again, what is the deal with putting a question mark in a web search?)
  14. “optometry school worth it” – Only if you want to be an optometrist. A better question would be which optometry school makes it the most worth it.
  15. “how much school does an optomitrist have” – Bad spelling aside, the short answer is eight years post high school.
  16. “laws against 1800 contacts” – Yah, there should be a law that says someone else can’t take my business away from me without my permission. The government needs to fix all my problems. Where’s my binky?
  17. “are prompt pay discounts for medical exams legal” – The previous billing expert I listened to said yes. The one before him said up to a reasonable amount like 10%. The true answer should be I should be able to charge whatever I want to whoever I want, but thanks to the government and insurance contracts that is not possible.
  18. “what to take in high school to become an optometrist?” – Take whatever the heck you want. Who cares about high school? College is the new high school. By the way, why take the extra effort to type in a question mark in a search box?
  19. “what retinoscope looks like” – Shh! It’s a secret.
  20. “optometrist jokes” – I would refer you to some excellent, witty cartoons sketched on a mouse pad by a charming optometrist.

Well, that concludes the first edition of Answers to Your Search Questions. I’ll release more later, so stay tuned.

Best Days to Practice Optometry

Since starting my practice inside a Wal-Mart Vision Center, I’ve kept track on a spreadsheet the daily gross and the number of exams. I also track a few other items like glasses vs. contacts vs. medical visits, DNKAs, follow-ups, walk ins, and appointments scheduled.

I thought it might be nice to share with you all a pattern I’ve noticed about which days are better to work than others, listed best to worst.

2008 so far (January to April I worked Mon 10-7, Wed 10-7, Friday 10-7, and Saturday 9-5, and May to present I worked 5 days a week, Tues 9-6, Wed 10-7, Thursday 10-7, Friday 9-5, Sat 9-3):

  1. Tuesday
  2. Wednesday
  3. Saturday
  4. Monday
  5. Friday
  6. Thursday

2007 from April to December I worked four days a week (Monday 10-7, Wednesday 10-7, Friday 10-7, and Saturday 9-5):

  1. Wednesday
  2. Monday
  3. Friday
  4. Saturday

In 2007 Mon, Fri, and Saturday were almost identicle in revenue earnings, but Wednesday gross averaged $98 more than the other days. In 2008 so far Tuesday and Wednesday (TuW) are close and so are Saturday and Monday (SaM). TuW gross averages $71 more than SaM, and SaM averages $79 more than Thursday.

In 2007 my private practice appointment book would fill up fast on Tuesdays and not so much on Thursdays. At the Wal-Mart, they told me I’d missed quite a few walk-in opportunities on Tuesdays, but not many on Thursdays.

Anyway, my take home message is this:

  • I advise O.D.s looking for fill-in work to stay away from Thursdays and Fridays and try to get in on the action for Tuesday and Wednesday. (Conversely, if you are an optometrist looking to hire fill-in work, then switch what I just said.)
  • If you need to take a random day off, Thursday or Friday is a safe bet

Your mileage may vary. For instance, from what I’ve heard, everywhere else in my district (Salt Lake to Ogden area) is gangbusters on Saturdays. I think that in my Northern Utah town the people like to go play on Saturdays and not worry about having to spend time at the doctor’s office. We notice that Saturdays are better in the winter than the summer because our area has lots of good hiking, boating, and other summer fun activities nearby.