Jul 11, 2023
A New Generation of Leaders

The Student Optometric Leadership Network, otherwise known as SOLutioN, is the parent organization to all the private practice clubs at each of the optometry schools. To me, it’s the single most important organization that I give credit for catapulting my career before I even graduated. 

In April 2011, private practice club leaders from 16 optometry schools came together at the Vision Source Exchange, a national conference held that year in Houston, TX, to learn how to better serve their clubs and students at their schools pursuing private practice optometry. By sharing their experiences and learning from others, as well as attending leadership and practice management workshops, each student leader left the meeting with ideas on how to improve their school’s club.  

As a two-time Young OD of the Year (Colorado 2017 and North Carolina 2023), I am honored to be a Co-Founder, former Executive Director, and Alumni of SOLutioN. I started my first practice, cold, right out of optometry school with the help of partners and mentors I met while attending SOLutioN meetings. I sold that practice in 2018 and moved to North Carolina to practice with a colleague, who I first met when he was a speaker at the inaugural SOLutioN meeting in 2011. I then opened my second cold start practice in 2021 while seven months pregnant, as a Vision Source Administrator for the Charlotte, NC area and as the Director of Brand Development and Marketing for iCare Advisors. The leadership and management training I received at SOLutioN sticks with me to this very day and I cannot wait to see what the future generations of SOLutioN are able to achieve.  

I vividly recall leaving the Vision Source Exchange in 2011 ready to conquer the world! I was so inspired by other like-minded, passionate, student leaders that I immediately started making changes within my school’s private practice club that would benefit my classmates and future colleagues for generations. The experience of sharing ideas and passion for optometric practice was so enriching, we students decided to create a national organization that would dedicate its time and resources to the development of practice management in optometry schools. Together, the Private Practice Student Optometry Leadership Network (SOLutioN) was formed and has been student and new graduate led ever since as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. After 2011, SOLutioN has held annual meetings in cities like Orlando, Las Vegas, Columbus, Sacramento, Denver, Dallas, and Raleigh. Each conference is attended by the incoming and outgoing presidents of each school’s optometry private practice or practice management club and the SOLutioN Executive Board. The mission of SOLutioN is to provide national unification and recognition of student optometric private practice and practice management organizations, support local organization leaders, and promote the future of private practice optometry. Despite COVID presenting challenges at the individual club level in 2020, SOLutioN helped ensure the clubs not only survived, but thrived heading out of the pandemic.  

While I may be personally biased, the accolades of the SOLutioN alumni speak for themselves and include some of the most innovative, successful, and passionate young optometrists in the country. Nearly all the founding members are private practice owners and most of the alumni are in private practice at some level. Many are local leaders within their state optometry societies, political action committees, or within the Vision Source network. All are thankful for the skills learned and lifelong friendships made from being a member of SOLutioN. I know I am.