As I sit here in the airport between flights, on my way home, from speaking with the students at the University of Waterloo, School of Optometry & Vision Science, I’m still running on the high of their energy and enthusiasm for the future!

So, in the spirit of the presentation, this two-part article is a great summary for everyone who wasn’t able to make it, and for those who would just like a brief recap!

Part 1: Setting up your Life and Career

The Infinity Circle that is Your Financial LifeThe Infinity Circle that is Your Financial Life

It all starts with You! You will earn an income – You will have expenses, and the greatest of these over your life will be TAXES (search YouTube or Facebook for the fun 30 second clip of Dony playing Monopoly). The goal is to keep your expenses less than your income so you can generate excess cash.

Excess cash that can then be used to purchase businesses. Businesses like your own clinic, commercial property, or profitable, well established market investments. These businesses will also earn revenue and manage expenses to create excess cash that can be used to reinvest in the business and provide you with an income such that, over time, the circle on the right replaces your need to actively work. That is what we call Financial Freedom.

Earning an Income and Contracts

Most young ODs will start their career as associate doctors. When reviewing various contracts, it’s important to be aware of some key questions to ask and terms to negotiate:

  1. When and how often are you expected to be present to see patients?
  2. How are patients going to be booked with you? Are you given all new patients? Is your schedule filled only after the senior doctors are fully booked two weeks out? Are the support staff eager and encouraged to book appointments with new doctors?
  3. Are there any dispensing or product sales quotas or targets?
  4. How is your renumeration calculated? If you elect to have a future ownership stake in the practice, will you be given any goodwill credit?
  5. Are there current and past contracted doctors that you can speak with? You will want to know the ease with which clinical days are filled with patients, what kind of patients, and any other expectations that they discovered while working there that weren’t discussed ahead of time.
  6. Are there any non-solicitation clauses on exit regarding patients and staff? Do you understand them and the penalties that would apply if broken.
  7. Are there any non-compete clauses? In most cases where you will not have an ownership stake in the business, these are often removed or restricted to a small and reasonable area and time frame as many have been challenged in court.

Sweetening the Deal

Often today you will see signing enticements such as a “golden handshake”, “loan forgiveness” programs, moving allowance, etc. You can negotiate these, but you should also understand when such payments will be received and any repayment terms if the relationship doesn’t work out.

I want to remind you that nothing is ever free – so be sure you understand the strings attached.

It’s Not Work-Life Balance because it’s all Your LIFE

I’ve never been a fan of the term work-life balance. It’s all your LIFE – so it should bring you joy.

We have created a Lifestyle Desires Checklist specifically for young ODs that takes a deep dive into your personal wants for your life (as you see it now), your professional wants, and then you will need to prioritize them.

The checklist also covers off considerations around different geographical locations and what they have to offer based on what you love to do, such as mountain biking, kayaking, attending the ballet.

And lets not forget to cover off how you ideally want to practice; everything from the number of hours you want to commit to clinic time, as well as ease of vacation opportunities and future education.

This checklist* is designed for you to get clarity on what is truly important to you as you head out into that Adult World!

*To download the checklist, please visit our website @ It is located under the resources tab.

Practice Culture and Locale Lifestyle

Consider spending some time at practices you are considering joining. Culture matters and you’ll want to get a good feel for the community.

  1. How do team members interact?
  2. What types of patients are typically seen at the office?
  3. How does the office handle patient needs that are beyond a “basic eye exam”?

It is important to understand the community into which you are choosing to practice and are considering living in, as this will enrich your life outside of the clinic.


As your Chief Financial Officer, I am here to help guide you through the various adult decisions you will need to make and the next steps you will be taking. Helping you understand your money and assisting you in making smart financial decisions about your debt repayment, insurance protection, tax management and wealth creation, are just some of the ways that I work as your fiduciary.

Have more questions than answers? Educating you is just one piece of being your personal CFO that we do. Call (780-261-3098) or email ( today to set up your next conversation with us.

Roxanne Arnal is a former Optometrist, Professional Corporation President, and practice owner. Today she is on a mission of Empowering You & Your Wealth with Clarity, Confidence & Control.

These articles are for information purposes only and are not a replacement for personal financial planning. Everyone’s circumstances and needs are different. Errors and Omissions exempt.


Optometrist and Certified Financial Planner

Roxanne Arnal graduated from UW School of Optometry in 1995 and is a past-president of the Alberta Association of Optometrists (AAO) and the Canadian Association of Optometry Students (CAOS).  She subsequently built a thriving optometric practice in rural Alberta.

Roxanne took the decision in  2012 to leave optometry and become a financial planning professional.  She now focuses on providing services to Optometrists with a plan to parlay her unique expertise to help optometric practices and their families across the country meet their goals through astute financial planning and decision making.

Roxanne splits EWO podcast hosting duties with Dr. Glen Chiasson.


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If you are anything like me you probably can’t imagine a world without some form of vision correction – whether it be glasses, contact lenses or even refractive surgery. Personally, I have been wearing glasses for myopia since the fourth grade. I didn’t realize I had a problem with my distance vision until my first eye exam; this was the first time I could literally “see” the difference placing a plastic lens in front of my eyes could have on my perception of the world.

Refractive error, as it pertains to the human eye, describes an aberration in the visual system that produces unclear or blurred images. There are many types of aberrations that may occur in one’s visual system and traditional lenses are limited in the degree and type of aberrations which they can correct. Additionally, disease, infection or functional abnormalities may also affect visual acuity and are important aspects to investigate if one’s vision is poor.

Today it is easy to undergo an eye exam and obtain spectacle lenses to correct for one’s own unique visual impairments. With the use of the phoropter and a systematic methodology combining both objective and subjective data, an optometrist can diagnose their patient’s refractive error with great accuracy in a relatively short period of time. This methodological process is termed Refraction, and is best described as both a science and art.

Refraction is Both Science and Art

The science of refraction involves the ways in which a lens placed in front of the eye may alter the quality of the images produced by the brain. The art of refraction involves providing a patient with a prescription that considers their specific and unique visual issues and aids in improving their vision by correcting for those unique issues.

In most Provinces and Territories, the ability to perform refraction is limited to optometrists, refracting medical doctors and ophthalmologists. However, many opticianry school programs have begun to incorporate both theory classes as well as practical training in Refraction into their programs. The inclusion of such classes will help increase the depth of understanding in dispensing, visual optics and the physiological functioning of the eye among new opticians, while additionally providing novel avenues for potential revenue; especially if there is a change in the opticians’ scope of practice in more Provinces, allowing for stand-alone vision tests similar to British Columbia and Alberta.

Outside of vision testing, knowledge of Refraction may be beneficial to opticians who perform contact lens fittings. A sound knowledge of refractive methodology will make sphero – cylindrical over refraction (SCOR) an easier task and allow the optician who performs it to combat poor acuity, the second most common reason for contact lens drop out, next to comfort, in new wearers. As most practitioners, opticians and optometrists alike, tend to mask astigmatism with a compensated spherical contact lens prescription, those who correct for it, or at least present it as an option to patients will see an increase in both fits and sales.

Astigmatic Correction Often Provides a Noticeable Difference

Arguably it does take time to perform a thorough and complete contact lens fitting with sphero – cylindrical over refraction; as such, it is reasonable to charge a contact lens fitting fee depending on complexity of the fit.

Investing in this process however indicates to your customers a higher level of professionalism and helps build loyalty. Offering contact lens options shows the customer your versatility in fits and demonstrates your concern for their vision quality. Extending contact lens fit over multiple visits to allow for trial lens comparisons is recommended, and the ultimate in interactive patient feedback in healthcare.

Depending on one’s prescription, providing astigmatic correction often provides a noticeable difference in vision quality. Becoming familiar with the lenses that work best for you and your customer demographic will be essential in determining which contact lens manufacturer fit sets you should keep at your location. Having a fitting set onsite reinforces the professionalism and quality of an establishment, given the perception among the public of astigmatism correcting lenses as premium products. Space concerns may limit the fit sets you may be able to keep so reviewing previous sales data is a good starting point.

Paramount in contact lens fitting is setting reasonable patient expectations based on spectacle visual acuity. Achieving a good fit with a toric lens and demonstrating visual acuity enhancement employing the knowledge of Refraction, while performing sphero-cylindrical over refraction, will result in a stronger customer base, greater sales and increased profits.

Dr. Shaun Rawana

Dr. Shaun Rawana is a practicing optometrist with over 15 years of experience in both the United States and Canada. His area of focus has been primary care optometry with interests in cornea/ocular surface disease and contact lenses. Dr. Rawana recently began teaching clinical skills in the Opticianry program at Seneca College and looks forward to contributing his insights into the current Canadian scene through Optik.


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