Jenny Lee, OD-4, University of Waterloo, contributes her perspectives on the Canadian Dry Eye Summit.

This weekend, members of NextGen OD/Eye Care Business Canada and the CRO (Clinical & Refractive Optometry team) had the opportunity to attend the annual Canadian Dry Eye Summit, held in Toronto, Ontario from November 12th to 13th.

This conference is truly one of its’ kind in Canada, featuring innovative, thought-provoking talks from several heavy hitters in the dry eye management scene from across the country including Drs. Richard Maharaj, Trevor Miranda, Wes McCann and countless other faculty.

The conference also featured live demos and exhibits of various equipment and products hot on the market from industry representatives.

Nyah Miranda OD-1 NECO
Nyah Miranda, NextGenOD Digital Communications Associate at the CRO and NextGenOD.ca booth in the exhibit hall. Nyah is an OD-1 student at NECO.

As a current fourth year optometry student at the University of Waterloo as well as the Vision Science Editorial Assistant for the Clinical and Refractive Optometry Journal, having the opportunity to dip my toes in the dry eye scene this weekend was truly a worthwhile and incredibly informative experience. Here I’ve highlighted three key pearls from my time with some of Canada’s best dry eye gurus.

#1: Now, more than ever, evidence-based medicine is crucial to the progression of optometry.

The extent and scope of optometry is vastly different than where it was even ten years ago.

Likewise, in order to keep up with a rapidly evolving field, it is vital to remain up-to-date with the current studies and to read beyond the conclusion of an article, as aptly stated by Dr. Maharaj.

In a talk about the impacts of nutrition on ocular surface disease, Dr. Kim Friedman broke down each key component (such as dosage and form), presenting the evidence for and against the inclusion of different supplements for dry eye.

Her talk emphasized not only the benefit of paying attention to the literature to support a medical recommendation, but also reading between the lines of a study conclusion and being able to draw your own insights.

Chances are, if we can access this information easily from the internet, so can our patients, and it gives you that extra edge to be able to keep up with them.

#2: Expert opinion is what bridges the gap between a research study and direct patient benefit.
Following up from the previous pearl, as practitioners are the direct points of contact for a patient seeking to manage their dry eye, it is important that we not only synthesize and make our own interpretations but also use this knowledge to develop our own expert opinion that is backed by the knowledge we obtain from reputable, reliable sources.

The true benefit of a conference such as this is that we are able to gather some of the brightest and most well-versed minds in a very specialized aspect of optometric care, and disseminate knowledge through expert opinion.

However, expert opinion is ultimately at the bottom of the evidence-based medicine pyramid – and it is up to the individual eye care professional to look beyond the neatly-packaged one hour COPE lecture to educate themselves.

As Dr. Maharaj stated in his talk on demystifying dry eye, “expert opinion is where it begins, and then we need to climb up the ladder”. The role of industry in educating optometrists on up-and-coming technology and the impacts of staying up to date in the literature are heavily understated.

#3: Ultimately, your patient care comes down to your ability to communicate and use the appropriate terminology.
Dr. Jeff Goodhew and Dr. Tina Goodhew provided an excellent outline of how to present the idea of dry eye management to the patient in a way that not only empowers the patient to seek their own care, but also does not place the onus on the doctor to feel obligated to provide a whole dry eye assessment during a routine eye exam.

Drs. Goodhew and Goodhew, as well as several of the speakers at the conference, highlighted the importance of how to approach the topic of dry eye with the patient, and some salient points and phrases that could be easily incorporated into any eye exam.

Building on this idea, Dr. Maharaj discussed how patients are already doing their own research and developing their own ideas about dry eye before they even come into your office – and as such, it is crucial to be able to use the right language and arm the patient with the correct information so that when it is disseminated to friends and family, there is no room for miscommunication.

At the end of the day, it is your words the patient will remember, and not the result of a randomized controlled trial.

Ultimately, I walked away from this conference with a newfound sense of respect for all the ongoing research and efforts being put into advancing the scope of optometry and the knowledge surrounding what we know about dry eye.

With the resources available to us, it is easier now than ever to stay up-to-date in the field, whether by reading case reports from fellow optometrists or attending trade shows and actively engaging with industry representatives.

I look forward to seeing where my own journey in optometry takes me!

If you are an optometrist looking to contribute back to the community with case reports of your own, the CRO (Clinical and Refractive Journal) is an excellent place to start.

We help you with the process of publishing your own article and becoming a COPE approved instructor! This is an excellent opportunity particularly for those looking to submit case reports as part of the Academy’s Fellowship program. CRO is on the Academy’s list of authorized journals for Fellowship points.

JENNY LEE (OD-4)

Vision Science Assistant Editor, CRO Journal

Jenny Lee is currently completing her 4th year at UW School of Optometry and Vision Science.

She originates from BC, completed her Bachelor of Science Honours, at University of British Columbia in 2019 and has been at UW since.

She’s been an engaged student leader serving as Vision Therapy Canada (Student Liaison), American Academy of Optometry (President UW Student Chapter), The Canadian Association of Optometry Students (Communications & Marketing Director), The UW Private Practice Club (Vice President of Finance) and  UW Optometry Student Society (Social Events Representative)

Jenny is the Vision Science Editorial Assistant for CRO (Clinical & Refractive Optometry) Journal.  She is currently writing her Board Examinations.


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Being an optometrist isn’t easy as there are so many things to look after, primarily when you are subleasing and don’t have control of the optical staff. Subleasing has plenty of benefits to offer, including having trained staff who work under your wing and assist you in your daily operations via your contract.

So, what happens when your staff makes errors and makes it difficult for you to run your practice? Such errors include not collecting payments on time from patients.

This isn’t beneficial for your practice and can result in significant losses. So, what should an optometrist do in such a situation? Let’s find out:

Collect Payment Before Treatment
This practice may not be allowed in some jurisdications, which is why it’s crucial to check before implementing . When you collect payments from your patients first, it can help you have clarity whether the patient has paid or not.

If your optical staff fails to collect payment from the patients after the treatment, you’ll be looking at a loss. You would have provided quality treatment to the patient and would note  even get paid for it. See if you can collect payment first.

Hire Your Staff
When you sublease space to run your practice, you will likely have to work with the existing staff. However, it can become problematic once the optical staff makes enormous mistakes. I

In such a situation, you should hire your staff. You can interview yourself to see their potential. When you have the right people for the job working under you, you’ll experience fewer errors and more ease.  Interview potential candidates thoroughly before appointing them, and have a much smoother experience at work.

Set Up Online Payment
If your staff forgets to collect payment from the patients, one thing you can do is ask them to call those patients, apologize for the oversight,  and ask for the payment.

Since your staff made the mistake of collecting payment, they should be the ones who make the call. Also, another suitable way to collect payment would be to set up an online payment option where patients can pay before getting the treatment. This way, you’ll receive the amounts, and your staff wouldn’t have to go after the patients regarding payments.

The Paper Trail
There should be paperwork for everything, including collecting payments from patients. You should have access to the invoices stating that the patient has paid a certain amount of money to receive a particular treatment.

Once you have all the documents, you’ll have proof that the patient has paid, and your staff didn’t forget to ask for the required money. Also, if there’s an invoice missing, you’ll immediately know that your employees failed to fetch the payment.

Do it Yourself?
This isn’t your job as an OD, but if your staff is not on top of things, you’ll have to step in. If you want to ensure your patients pay you the money you’re entitled to receive, you should collect it yourself at the end of the treatment. This way, you won’t have to run after optical staff to do so, and you’ll have your dues as well.

MARIA SAMPALIS

is the founder of Corporate Optometry, a peer-to-peer web resource for ODs interested to learn more about opportunities in corporate optometry. Canadian ODs and optometry students can visit www.corporateoptometry.com to learn more.


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There is an generational effect  on the optometry industry that is changing expectations from optometry clinics. Millennials and optometry have an important correlation since there are steady changes happening in technology, practice management, work-life balance, patient care and diversity and inclusion. For many millenial ODs, there is a good fit between their expectations and values and a corporate optometry career path.

Trends in Optometry
While millennial ODs need to face an economic reality they do have the flexibility that can help them face future uncertainties.  Going through school and building their careers might leave many millennials with high debt, and without the capital to pursue independent optometry.  Corporate optometry has become an attractive option.

Millennials are part of the digital generation, where, like most industries, technology is prioritized. They also wired to expect high efficiency and productivity. They also have a comfort level with technology that can help build relationships with patients.

Digital Future of Optometry
Modern offices are turning towards digital space to increase efficiency. This can include  software for billing, appointments, and booking – things like cloud access and digital imaging for records and patient data. Optometry offices are being expanded to digital spaces for greater accessibility.

Cloud Adoption
The willingness millennials have to turn towards the cloud is a great asset.

Millennials and optometry involve incorporating IT setups, hardware, and software. It can mean more training as well as costs from tech glitches. If an optometry clinic has different office locations, it can mean the use of multiple IT systems, which can lead to expenditure cost.

Millennials are turning the trend to optometry offices towards incorporating the right sort of technology into the right spaces.

This model needs patient privacy compliance and has a fully-managed and secure structure. It also gives room to optometry clinics to be more transparent with their customers.

Through seamless integration, there is increased accountability of the optometry clinics as well.

Diversity and Inclusiveness
Young ODs want to feel part of something bigger. They make sure the promotion practices throughout the organization are unbiased and equitable.

They are looking for a structured internal mobility program to provide equal opportunities. Many corporate opticals, like Warby Parker, have taken steps to help grow diversity in optometry. Many millennial ODs feel they belong in organizations that provide these opportunities, and have taken subleases accordingly.

Millennial ODs have changed how the industry performs and works with its patients and workforce. This can be quite a positive change in terms of relationships, efficiency, and ability to expand.

MARIA SAMPALIS

is the founder of Corporate Optometry, a peer-to-peer web resource for ODs interested to learn more about opportunities in corporate optometry. Canadian ODs and optometry students can visit www.corporateoptometry.com to learn more.


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Dr. Sana Owais completed both her Doctorate in Optometry (O.D.) and her residency in low vision rehabilitation from the University of Waterloo. Due to her commitment to life-long-learning and patient care, she also received her fellowship with the American Academy of Optometry (F.A.A.O) designation. She did her Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Biology (Physiology Specialization) from McMaster University where she graduated summa cum laude and with Deans’ Honour. During her optometry training she was recognized with the VSP/FYidoctors Practice Excellence Scholarship and the Gold Key International Optometric Honour Society Award. She is currently providing care to patients in Mississauga and Brampton. In her free time she likes to go on hikes and explore new geographical sites.

Dr. Sana Owais, OD, FAAO, shares her American Academy of Optometry (AAO) experiences with NewOptometrist Editor Dr. Jaclyn Chang; from AAO Student Chapter fundraising to ultimately earning Fellowship herself!

 

Jaclyn: Can you tell our audience about your involvement with the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) as an optometry student?

Sana: I worked with my lovely counterpart – you, as our Vice-President! We were part of the University of Waterloo AAO Student Chapter where we raised funds for students to attend Academy 2016 in Anaheim, California.

I was delighted that we were able to sponsor a few Waterloo students to attend Academy, one of the largest global optometry conferences! The fundraiser was a highlight of optometry school. Another highlight was when we got to meet guest speakers at our Waterloo events, including Dr. Barbara Caffery, FAAO (past-president of the AAO) and Dr. Derek MacDonald, FAAO (executive with the Optometric Glaucoma Society). We were very fortunate! Additionally, while I was a part of the student chapter, I attained my student fellowship at the Chicago Academy (2017) meeting.

Jaclyn: Yes, it was definitely fun to work together! Can you talk about your personal journey to getting an AAO fellowship? What is the process and what are the requirements?

Sana: To become a Fellow, you first register online in order to create your application for candidacy. Then, you get assigned reviewers who will be evaluating your submissions (e.g. poster, case report, or published article).

My reviewers were Academy Fellows from all over the world. I had three reviewers, from the U.K., Canada, and Spain. It was nice to have a diverse committee. They were able to give varied feedback which elevated my case reports.

There are three different candidacy paths you can go through. You can become a clinical candidate, a scientific candidate, or special category candidate. I pursued the clinical candidate which requires 50 points through various activities such as, leadership in the optometry community, case reports, publications, or presenting an Academy lecture.

My goal was to complete the clinical candidate requirements with the combination of a residency and three case reports.

After submitting my three case reports, communicating back-and-forth with my reviewers, and revising my case reports with all of the suggested edits, I got an email saying that I was eligible for the oral interview at Academy, (Orlando 2019)!

A few weeks before the oral interview I reviewed my case reports, read related literature, and practiced summarizing the key points of each case report. At the Pearson airport waiting lounge, while I was waiting for my fight to Orlando, I noticed that the person next to me was also reviewing some Academy conference material. It turns out I was sitting next to a current fellow who ended up giving me some useful tips for the oral interview!

At the Academy conference, I did a 15-minute in-person interview with the same three committee members that had evaluated my work. (It was so exciting to meet them in person!). They were all very friendly and supportive. They asked me probing questions about my cases and some other questions which, to be honest, caught me off guard.

It was incredibly nice to meet them in person. I ended up recognizing one of the assessors who wa  a guest speakers at one of our previous UW AAO student chapter events. It was exciting to see things come full circle!

After the interview, I waited in a different room while the committee deliberated on their decision. After a few nerve-wracking minutes, I found that I had been granted the Fellowship!

I went into a different room where I received a fellowship certificate and shook hands with Dr. Barbara Caffery! In the evening, we had a Fellows’ banquet where all of the incoming fellows were inaugurated. It was so special.

Jaclyn: Awesome, congrats! What are the benefits of fellowship?

Sana: There are several benefits such as, discounted Academy meeting registration fees, access to Optometry and Vision Science, which is a monthly journal containing papers on clinical cases, inclusion on the Academy’s online directory of Fellows, and of course being able to add the F.A.A.O. designation with your name.

One of my favourite parts of fellowship is the requirement to attend the Academy meeting every few years. At Academy you have access to a plethora of networking opportunities where you can meet some of the world’s leading clinicians in various fields. It’s like a big academic party!

Jaclyn: Do you have any other advice for optometrists or students who would be interested in pursuing a fellowship?

Sana: My advice would be to make a blueprint on how you will attain the fellowship, (i.e.plan which combination of case reports, posters, and or residency you would like to do) and then follow that plan. Easier said than done! Luckily, I had two terrific supervisors, Dr. Shamroze Khan, OD, FAAO, and Dr. Tammy Labreche, OD, FAAO, who kept me on track and kept me motivated through the process!

You don’t necessarily have to do a residency in order to achieve a fellowship if you’ve already completed a few publications or done leadership in the optometry community. If that is the case, you may already have some of the building blocks necessary to attain the FAAO.

Everyone’s journey to fellowship is different. Like the common adage, ‘it’s not the destination, it’s the journey’. The learning experiences that you take on in order to attain the fellowship is where the true enrichment lies, rather than attaining the fellowship itself.

Residency and fellowship were absolutely worth pursuing. It was a difficult year-and-half, but in the end it was worth it.

I felt earning a fellowship was like taking our optometry training to the next level. For example, after one accomplishes a goal in his/her professional life, one may ask ‘what’s next’? Although, it may be easy to become complacent in our professional pursuits after graduation, it is important to keep upgrading ourselves because the profession is continually evolving, so perhaps fellowship could be a next step!

The next 2022 Academy meeting is in San Diego, so hopefully more of us can attend this year. Fingers crossed!

Jaclyn: Great advice! Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and experience on this topic with our audience!

For more information on fellowship, visit: https://www.aaopt.org/membership/becoming

 

JACLYN CHANG, OD

Editor NewOptometrist.ca

Dr. Jaclyn Chang graduated from the University of Waterloo (UW) with an Honours Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences before continuing at Waterloo to complete her Doctor of Optometry degree. She is currently a practicing optometrist in Toronto.

Dr. Chang is committed to sharing information and bringing new resources to her colleagues. As a student, she sat on the Board of Trustees for the American Optometric Student Association, organizing events to connect students with industry. She was the Co-Founder/Co-President of the award-winning UW Advancement of Independent Optometry Club, the first club at UW dedicated to private practice optometry. Dr. Chang is also a passionate writer, who aims to make information accessible and easily digestible to her colleagues. She has published in Optometry & Vision Science and Foresight magazine and contributed to Optik magazine. She is excited to bring valuable resources to Canada’s next generation of optometrists with NewOptometrist.ca.


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NewOptometrist.ca puts the spotlight on Zero to Five Pathfinders

Sana Owais. OD, F.A.A.O 

Dr. Sana Owais completed both her Optometry degree and her residency in low vision rehabilitation from the University of Waterloo. During her optometry training she was recognized with the FYidoctors Practice Excellence Scholarship and the Gold Key International Optometric Honour Society Award. She also received her Fellowship with the American Academy of Optometry (F.A.A.O) designation.

Previously she completed a Honours B.Sc. degree from McMaster University where she graduated summa cum laude and with Deans’ Honour. She is currently providing care to patients in Mississauga and Brampton. In her free time she likes to go on hikes and explore new geographical sites. 

 What is something you have done in your practice to set you apart? 

Although not very uncommon, I have designed and collected informational sheets and brochures for patients on common topics (e.g. dry eye, ocular allergies, hordeola, flashes/floaters) and I give them to the patients when I am educating them on their visual concern. I feel it is important for patients to leave with written information in case they forget something, there is a language barrier, or if they feel over-whelmed with all of the information delivered during the exam. Therefore, they have a hard copy of written material to take home and review on their own time.

What metrics do you track in order to gauge your success?

We can improve only what we measure. One metric I measure is related to contact lenses. For example, I track the number of contact lens fits, types of fit (toric, multifocal, coloured lenses), most popular contact lens brand, and most popular contact lens modality. In the future I am aiming to track contact lens capture rate, revenue per contact lens fit, and revenue per contact lens sale. It is important to track metrics in order to maintain a healthy business and evaluate trends.

What business books would you recommend other ECPs read? 

I haven’t read these optometry business books myself yet, but they are on my reading list:

  • 201 Secrets of a High-Performance Optometric Practice by Bob Levoy
  • But I Don’t Sell: An Eye Care Professional’s Guide to Being More Persuasive, Influential and Successful by Steve Vargo
  • Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day by Jake Knapp

What advice would you give a new grad today? 

I would recommend to learn to how to do a basic eye exam in the top five most commonly spoken languages in the area you practice. Connecting with patients and their families in their native language really opens doors for building patient rapport and building more referrals.

Last indulgence? 

My last random indulgence was Subi Super juice from the supplements aisle at Wholefoods grocery store. It is a pulverized  powder of 20+ vegetables (mostly greens). Although, the taste was unpalatable at first, it has grown on me! I feel of all of the powdered superfoods I have tried before, this one has improved my energy levels and digestion the most.  I look forward to breakfast every morning!

Favorite past-time/hobby? 

My new favourite hobby is making mocktails. I’m learning how to make virgin mojitos, coquitos, and watermelon margaritas. Mocktails can be healthy, refreshing, and fun!

Describe your perfect day

A day packed with new and exciting activities and learning new skills: e.g. belaying, forest bathing, aromatherapy, adventuring to new geographic sites, taking a hot-air balloon ride, and ziplining. Of course, not all in one day!

There was a lot of good fishing where I was in New Brunswick. I used to love fishing all the time. Sometimes the doctors would also take me out snowmobiling with them, so that was a lot of fun.

 


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In this article, I will outline each of the three parts of the American optometric board examinations administered by the National Board of Examiners of Optometry (NBEO) as well as my personal experiences completing these exams as a Canadian optometry student, the study material I used, and my tips and tricks for success.

Part I of the NBEO exam is typically challenged in March of your third year of optometry school. This is an 8-hour exam consisting of 350 scored and 20 non-scored items, divided into two sessions with 185 questions within each session.

This exam covers various subjects that you have learned over your first three years of school, with a strong emphasis on ocular disease, ocular anatomy, optics, pharmacology, and binocular vision.

Part II of the NBEO exam is administered in December of your fourth year of optometry school and consists of 45-55 full cases, 15-20 mini-cases, and 15-20 solo items. This exam is also 8 hours divided into two sessions.

Approximately 120 questions are categorized as TMOD, which stands for treatment and management of ocular disease.

Part III of the NBEO exam can be taken beginning the summer of your third year and onwards. This exam must be taken at the National Testing Centre in Charlotte, North Carolina and is a practical examination performed on patients.

This exam consists of 4 stations where you perform specific skills on standardized patients.

What it Takes for Success

All three of these examinations involve loads of preparation and mental stamina.

To tackle Part I and Part II of NBEO, I purchased the KMK Signature course, which contains videos, flashcards, practice exams, a daily guided study plan, live lectures, the booster course, and the crash course, and so much more.

I decided to purchase this course because I wanted to ensure I provided myself with all the resources I would need to succeed. I think the extra content was valuable and would recommend this course if you want more structure.

The Core and Plus KMK courses also provide you with the content videos, practice questions, and practice exams, and many people use these courses and still succeed with their studying.

My Journey
In October of my third year, I started studying for Part I by going through the videos and started studying more intensely around December of that year. I was supposed to write Part I in March of 2020 but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this got pushed back to July of 2020.

I paused my studies for a few months and came back to it around June of 2020. After completing Part I at the end of July, I gave myself until September to rest and recharged my brain before starting to dive into Part II.

I wrote Part II in mid-November. Two and a half months is ample time to study for this exam.  I had just written Part I, which left a lot of that information fresh in my mind, so some light review during the summer months might be helpful.

In addition to using the KMK signature course to study for Part II, I purchased OptoPrep for more practice questions. OptoPrep provides you with loads of practice questions and practice exams that simulate the actual NBEO examinations. I found this extremely helpful as the cases OptoPrep provides were comparable to the cases found on Part II of NBEO.

I completed Part III of NBEO in March of 2021. To prepare for this, I created a script for myself based on the rubric provided by NBEO.

Practice Makes Perfect

My advice is to practice, practice, practice and did I mention practice!

You want to have the script down like you are performing. I recorded myself going through the different stations and would listen back to make sure I hit all the points. I would practice saying my script to friends and family until I felt completely comfortable and barely had to think about what I was saying.

When it comes down to doing this exam, the testing environment is high stress, and if you practice enough, your nerves shouldn’t take over. It is essential to practice the skills and go through the motions full out with a friend or family member.

All three of these examinations are high stress and involve loads of stamina, so my main pieces of advice are finding some mental outlet, take breaks when you need them, and most importantly don’t forget to breathe.

You will make it through, and even if there are hiccups along the way or you don’t get the outcome you wanted on your first try, you will get it next time.

Trust your instincts, as this is the last hurdle you need to overcome to become a Doctor of Optometry.

 

ALEXA HECHT

Contributor NewOptometrist.ca

Undergraduate Studies:
University of Manitoba in Psychology/Biology

Optometry:
University of Waterloo – Class of 2021


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NewOptometrist.ca puts the spotlight on Zero to Five Pathfinders

By Jaclyn Chang, OD

Dr. Yehia Jadayel talks about his journey to becoming an optometrist, his current work situation, and a bit about himself!

Jaclyn: Can you tell our audience about your background and why you went into optometry?

Yehia: In high school, I thought about going into engineering but my family’s full of engineers, so I wanted to try something different. Since I was pretty good at science, I looked at going into the healthcare field.

I went to the University of Ottawa for Biomedical Sciences. I didn’t know I wanted to be an optometrist until my second or third year of university, because I was originally interested in med school and was just looking at my options in general. I also looked into other healthcare professions, but there wasn’t anything else that really excited me.

Optometry is cool because it combines physics (optics) with healthcare and there’s also a business aspect. I talked with a few people, did some research, and decided to apply for optometry school. It was kind of late into my third year and there was a deadline to apply.

Reading week was coming up and I planned on finding an optometrist to shadow during that week. Then, I ended up getting really sick and wasn’t able to shadow anyone.

While I was back in school after reading week, I must have gone to so many different clinics. Some of them agreed to let me shadow and then cancelled the day of. I was turned down so many times and I was running out of time. I really needed a letter of recommendation as well.

My grandfather’s optometrist, Dr. Fred Campbell, gave me my last chance. I showed up at his office really late at night. It was still open and I told him I was an undergraduate student looking to apply for optometry and really needed to shadow. He agreed instantly and even let me pick the date to come in.

Dr. Campbell helped me out a lot and made things easy for me. I think it’s funny how that worked out because if it wasn’t for that, I would have run out of time. I applied to Waterloo Optometry, and I got in.

I’m glad it worked out because being an optometrist is a great job and I enjoy it. I’m very patient care-centered, so I like doing my very best for patients.

Jaclyn: I know that you worked in New Brunswick right after graduation and recently moved back to Ottawa. How did the job search in Ottawa go?

Yehia: There were a lot of positions available. I interviewed at four locations really quickly. I had already been talking to a few locations when I was in New Brunswick, getting ready to come back to Ontario. When I got back to Ottawa, I sent my job application to a few more clinics and they got back to me quickly as well.

I talked to and saw a few locations. I was mostly offered fill‑in days. There was only one location that wanted full-time and it was still between two opticals. The interviews went well – I think as an optometrist you’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you.

When I was looking for a job, I didn’t have anything particular in mind, so I was able to keep my options open and see what private practice vs. opticals had to offer. For that reason, it was relatively easy and people were eager to fill their days.

Jaclyn: Where are you working now and how are you liking it?

Yehia: I’m working in two locations right now. They’re both opticals and there’s a few differences compared to when I was working in the full scope practice in New Brunswick, but I’m enjoying it.

I knew if I worked in an optical, I’d potentially have less equipment. I’m missing Optomaps and OCT, so there isn’t as much testing and analysis. The patients here in Ottawa are also a bit healthier on average; there was an older demographic where I worked in New Brunswick.

Jaclyn: Let’s talk a little bit more about you. What do you do in your free time?

Yehia: Well, that’s changed a lot during COVID. I like hanging out with family and playing video games or outside.

There was a lot of good fishing where I was in New Brunswick. I used to love fishing all the time. Sometimes the doctors would also take me out snowmobiling with them, so that was a lot of fun.

Jaclyn: What’s your favorite movie?

Yehia: Independence Day is one of my favorite movies. And the Batman movies, the recent ones with Christian Bale. I also really like documentaries.

Jaclyn: What’s your favorite food?

Yehia: Miramichi was the small town I worked in in New Brunswick, so we didn’t have a huge variety of cuisine – it was a lot of pizza, burgers, and hotdogs. Whenever I went back to Ottawa, I needed to go to three places: a shawarma place, a sushi place and Popeye’s Fried Chicken. Those are my favorite. Plus, mom’s cooking right now.

Jaclyn: When was the last time you laughed?

Yehia: [Laughter] Right now. Talking to you.

Jaclyn: What would you do if you won ten million dollars?

Yehia: I’d buy a really nice house. I’d buy my mom something really nice. Then I’d save or invest the rest and think about what I want as I get older.

Jaclyn: If you had a time machine, what year would you travel to and why?

Yehia: I love history. I want to go back to multiple periods in time and see how things were back
in the day. There’s only so much you can learn from documentaries and reading about
history, so it would be amazing to actually be there.

If I could travel forward in time, I would like to see how far technology is going to take us in the future.

Jaclyn: Thanks so much for your time Yehia – it was great to learn more about you!


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Entrepreneurship is about opening to new ideas and opportunities, and engaging in different ways to act on them. As entrepreneurs in the eyecare profession, we must be open to new opportunities but more importantly recognize those opportunities.

We all have the capabilities to coming up with ideas, but we must learn on how to turn these ideas into valuable revenue generating opportunity. Over the course of my current program, MBA in healthcare management, I have learned different strategies to generate new ideas and how to turn them into opportunity.

Here are seven main strategies for idea generation:

  1. Analytical:
    Analytical strategies involve thinking about a problem and breaking it up into parts and looking at it in a general way.
  2. Search:
    Search strategies involve the use of a stimulus to retrieve memories in order to make connections and links based on your personal experiences.
  3. Imagination:
    Imagination-based strategies, as the name suggests, involve creating unrealistic fantasies or states to generate novel “out-there” ideas.
  4. Habit-breaking:
    Habit-breaking strategies is a technique that helps us break out of mental fixedness in order to bring about creative ideas. An example is to think about the opposite of something you believe.
  5. Relationship-seeking:
    Relationship strategies are a key strategy especially of those in healthcare, as it involves making links between concepts and ideas that are normally not associated with each other.
  6. Development strategies:
    Development strategies involve enhancing or modifying or building upon an existing idea and creating alternative and newer possibilities for it.
  7. Interpersonal:
    Interpersonal strategies involve a group building and generating new ideas on each other’s concepts (as might typically be accomplished in a “Brain Storming” session.

Turning Ideas into Opportunity.

Once armed with the knowledge of how to  generate ideas, we must understand and learn how to identify an opportunity within those ideas. It has been shows that entrepreneurs who demonstrate alertness, prior knowledge and pattern recognition are best able to find opportunities.

#1: Be Alert
As an entrepreneur, you have to be alert to opportunities. This means that entrepreneurs are not rationally and systemically searching for their environment but in fact become alert to the existing opportunities through their day-to-day activities. This is essential to eyecare professional as we should learn our environment, our field, and scope and be alert to spot something new, and different.

Always have access to more information by being actively in touch with organizations about new products or developments and take risks.

#2: Leverage Prior Knowledge
Prior knowledge is also essential when it comes to recognizing an opportunity. Prior knowledge is the information you gained from general work and life experience. We must constantly apply this to different aspects to find opportunities. Studies show that entrepreneurs with knowledge of industry and market and those with broad networks are usually better able to recognize opportunities.

#3: Recognize Patterns
Pattern recognition is the ability to identify connections between unrelated ideas, and events. In various studies entrepreneurs have reported that prior knowledge is used to make connections about unrelated events and trends have helped them identify new opportunities.

The Power of Networking

Entrepreneurship is all about working together, collaboration, taking action with limited resources and navigating uncertainty. This is done better when you have a strong network.

Studies have shown that building new connections with people, we are able to achieve more than if we would have acted individually. By networking, we build social capital which is our own personal social networks with people who are willing to cooperate, exchange information and build a trusting relationship with you.

As eyecare professionals, there are multiple places we can network both in-person and virtual and these include, CE events, Optometry’s meetings, the Academy meeting, meetings with contact lens/products representative events, Facebook optometry/eyecare groups, social media in general, email groups such as the Canadian Optometry Group and many more.

Virtual networking has been on the rise with methods such as twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. There are multiple pages include fellow Optometry influencers, media publications, and even pages for organizations that you can follow and potentially connect with. Relationships are key to the success of businesses and networks provide essential information, diverse skillset, and power to entrepreneurs to not just start but also grow their business.

In conclusion, it can be said entrepreneurship is about finding an opportunity from many ideas and then successfully implementing it with discipline. But to do so you need strong connections and great networking skills. As eyecare professional we must continue to grow our field, network with each other, and explore different ideas and turn them into opportunities.

References

  1. Neck, H. M., Neck, C. P., & Murray, E. L. (2021). Entrepreneurship: the practice and mindset. SAGE Publications Ltd.

MOHIT ADLAKHA, OD

Dr. Mohit Adlakha graduated with Biological Sciences (Honours) from University of Ontario Institute of Technology and then went on to earn his Doctor of Optometry from MCPHS University. He is currently pursuing his MBA in healthcare management from MCPHS University and practicing as an Optometrist here in Toronto.

Dr. Adlakha grew up in Toronto and in his free time he enjoys watching movies and playing sports.


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NewOptometrist.ca puts the spotlight on Zero to Five Pathfinders

Four Eyes Optometry Podcast Founders

PathFinder Spotlight:

Four Eyes Optometry Podcast  

Founders

  • Dr. Alex Coon, Wasilla, Alaska, US
  • Dr. Amrit Bilkhu, Brampton, Ontario
  • Dr. Deepon Kar, Lethbridge, Alberta
  • Dr. Ravinder Randhawa, Vaughn, Ontario

 

Four enterprising female ODs from the Illinois College of Optometry class of 2019 started the “Four Eyes Optometry” podcast, combining their talents and cross-border interests to educate, enlighten and entertain ODs on both sides of the border.

The Four Eyes Optometry founders:

  • Dr. Alex Coon, Wasilla, Alaska, US
  • Dr. Amrit Bilkhu, Brampton, Ontario
  • Dr. Deepon Kar, Lethbridge, Alberta
  • Dr. Ravinder Randhawa, Vaughn, Ontario

…  combined their answers to questions posed by NewOptometrist.ca Editor Dr. Jaclyn Chang.

After reading their responses below, make sure you sign up to their podcasts. You can view the entire list of podcasts from Four Eyes Optometry here:  See the list (the ladies have been busy!)

Jaclyn: Are there any resources that you can provide for new graduates that you found helpful?

Four Eyes Optometry: Besides the Four Eyes Optometry podcast, we all found that joining our provincial and state associations tremendously helped with information about licensing, job searches, and the overall process of transitioning from a student to an independent optometrist.

Other valuable resources we all use on a regular basis to keep up to date with what is occurring in the eyecare industry are various digital publications such as, Eyes on Eyecare, Modern Optometry, Review of Optometry, and 20/20 Glance.

Jaclyn: Can you provide job search/interview/contract advice?

Four Eyes Optometry: Since all of us have been working full time in various practice modalities for the last couple of years, our most important piece of advice is to not always accept the job that pays the most.

You may be offered a position where the compensation is great, but you are questioning yourself about the hours, equipment available, staff, and the number of patients that need to be seen.

These feelings of uncertainty will not eventually disappear as you practice, they will often return until you decide to address them.

Money will seem like the priority when you first graduate because of those pesky student loans that need to be paid off, but from our experiences, money is definitely not everything when it comes to avoiding burnout and finding an appropriate work-life balance.

Jaclyn: Describe your first day of work.

Four Eyes Optometry: We have all talked about similar anxious experiences from our first day of practicing as an independent optometrist. Most of us were working as solo practitioners and were very aware that we did not have an extra set of eyes to help with diagnosis, treatment and management if we were ever unsure of the clinical situation.

The first day, and even the first week, was very nerve wracking for all of us, especially since there is no Attending to double check your work and guide your clinical decisions. Even during those initial anxious moments practicing on our own, we would constantly text each other in our group chat hoping one of us would have the correct answer, and what we all eventually came to realize is that it is absolutely okay if you do not have the immediate answers, you can always follow up with patients at a later time and systematically plan your approach to their care.

Jaclyn: What advice would you give a new grad today?

Four Eyes Optometry: If you or a group of your friends have been thinking about creating something, starting a project, or reinventing a product that is already out there, whether or not it has to do with the eye care industry or not, without a doubt, just start it!

The most difficult step is to start, and then the second most difficult step is to be consistent with your efforts towards your creative project.

Even if you do not know all the steps to get to the result you want, you will figure out everything as you trudge along. This is exactly how we started the Four Eyes Optometry podcast. We began not knowing everything that could potentially go wrong, and when they did, which was often, we figured it out together and learned a great deal from the process.

Jaclyn: What is your definition of success or what habits make you a successful person?

Four Eyes Optometry: In our opinion, any person with a goal in which they are consistently putting in those tough and long hours towards achieving it every single day, is already a successful person.

It really is all about the process. Being able to look back on those rough experiences and hard lessons during the journey will always make reaching the destination so much more rewarding.

Jaclyn: What is your most effective marketing tool/platform?

Four Eyes Optometry: “Do it for the gram!” All jokes aside, Instagram has been our podcast’s platform of choice because of the multitude of opportunities to network with so many of the amazing and different eye care professionals we have connected with in the past and plan to connect with in the future.

Jaclyn: What was the last time you laughed?

Four Eyes Optometry: We always have belly aching laughs when we are together recording our weekly podcast episodes; we definitely do not take ourselves too seriously. Our regular Happy Hour podcast episodes definitely show off our goofy personalities!

Jaclyn: What is your favorite TV show / Netflix series?

Four Eyes Optometry:  All of us have lived with one another at different points of time during our optometry school days. The TV genre that always excitingly brought us together in the living room, along with various snacks in hand, was tacky reality TV. These TV shows included everything from Netflix’s bakeoff challenges to MTV’s Floribama Shore. Quite a range, we are aware. Even though we do not have much time to watch these entertaining TV series now, we once did schedule time to live vicariously through these so-called TV characters on a regular basis, and shamelessly loved every moment of it!

Sign up to their podcasts.


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After a few years out of school, sometimes it’s nice to go back and reminisce with old friends about when we were just learning the techniques that we now do expertly on a daily basis.  Dr. Brian Yeung, shares his school experience with Jaclyn Chang, editor of NewOptometrist.ca.

 

Jaclyn:  Can you talk about your experience interviewing at different optometry schools and why you ultimately chose the Illinois College of Optometry (ICO)?

Brian:  I applied to a few schools and got an interview at all of those schools. Waterloo was pretty tough with their interview process and admissions. I decided to go to Chicago for an interview, which was a lot more relaxed, and I really enjoyed the city. After that, I really felt like the ICO was a good place to be.

I interviewed at SCCO in California. That was a nice experience too, but I didn’t have as much of a gut feeling that I was going to be more comfortable there. They put me on a waitlist, but by that time, ICO had sent me an acceptance letter. I did have a third interview in Arizona at AZCOPT, which I declined.

Jaclyn:  I had the same experience at ICO. I think it was the third school I’d interviewed at. I actually didn’t know much too much about ICO at the time, but I felt the most at home there, and I was actually very surprised by how at home I felt there.

Brian:  Right? I had Dr. Pang, Head of Pediatrics. She asked me if I had any questions for her, which I had forgotten to prepare. I kind of freaked out for a second and said, ‘Well, I’m in Chicago for another day, are there any places to eat?’ She laughed it off and was really cool about it and told me where to get the best deep-dish pizza.

Jaclyn:  That’s awesome. Interviewing at schools is similar to how the real world works. When you interview with an optometrist for a job, a lot of it is a personality fit.

Brian:  That’s the most important. Knowledge is one thing, experience is one thing, but if you don’t work well together, even if you know everything, it’s not going to work out in the end.

I had a job offer right out of school, without even interviewing. Someone looked at my resume and saw that I had been the President of the Fellowship of Christian Optometrists (FCO) at ICO and thought I would be a good personality fit.

Jaclyn:  Can you talk about your role in FCO at ICO?

Brian:   After second year, The FCO Board needed incoming third years to take over the leadership positions. All the positions were taken except President. No one wanted to be President. I didn’t necessarily want it either. I just wanted to go on mission trips, but if no one was going to do it, this group wasn’t going to exist.

I talked to the previous Presidents to learn more about the role and ended up accepting it. I’m actually pretty grateful for that because I had the opportunity to coordinate two mission trips with the doctors that worked in Honduras and Guatemala.

It was a really great experience that pushed me out of my comfort zone and developed my leadership skills. Being the President of FCO also put me in contact with the doctor that ended up being my supervisor at my first rotation in Idaho.

Jaclyn:  I remember when you were in Idaho. You had a car, right?

Brian:  I had a free little 1995 truck that I was taller than, and I’m not that tall. I stayed in a trailer for three months for free. It was great; it was the cheapest rotation.

Jaclyn:  How were all your rotations?

Brian:  In Idaho, I did general comprehensive exams. There wasn’t a lot of disease, but that was perfect for first quarter because it allowed me to fine tune my exams and work more efficiently.

That experience prepared me for my next rotation at the Florida VA, which was go, go, go non-stop, and a lot more disease. I’m glad that it worked out that way; I didn’t have to worry about my timing at that point and I could absorb and learn about diseases.

At my ICO rotation, I also saw a lot of disease because we’re on the south side of Chicago. That was another reason I chose ICO – I like that type of learning environment that’s hands-on and I really like to learn from experience.

Indiana was my other rotation and that was just as good, but that was more of an OMD practice. We would see up to 40 patients a day for pre-ops and post-ops, and I would get to observe all the surgeries, following a different doctor every day.

 Jaclyn:  With all of your different experiences, do you have any idea where you want to go in the future?

Brian:  It’s hard because I have a dream of what I want to do. I would love to build a practice from the ground up and build a culture of my own, but I’m also perfectly happy with being an associate because there’s less responsibility. Being an associate in a well-established practice and having good technology at my disposal allows me to make the income I want without sacrificing too much in how I want to practice.

My life is more-so following the path as it comes to me. I’m not one to plan too far in advance, because I know life is unpredictable. I find that if you’re willing to go with the flow, it actually will carry you to good places generally.

Jaclyn:  Makes sense! Thanks again Brian – it’s always a good time chatting with you!

JACLYN CHANG, OD

Editor NewOptometrist.ca

Dr. Jaclyn Chang graduated from the University of Waterloo (UW) with an Honours Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences before continuing at Waterloo to complete her Doctor of Optometry degree. She is currently a practicing optometrist in Toronto.

Dr. Chang is committed to sharing information and bringing new resources to her colleagues. As a student, she sat on the Board of Trustees for the American Optometric Student Association, organizing events to connect students with industry. She was the Co-Founder/Co-President of the award-winning UW Advancement of Independent Optometry Club, the first club at UW dedicated to private practice optometry. Dr. Chang is also a passionate writer, who aims to make information accessible and easily digestible to her colleagues. She has published in Optometry & Vision Science and Foresight magazine and contributed to Optik magazine. She is excited to bring valuable resources to Canada’s next generation of optometrists with NewOptometrist.ca.


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