April Fool's Day of 2024 will mark 25 years of private practice, no joke.
Like a professional athlete who stays with the same team their entire career, I will proudly celebrate 25 years on team Vision Source! I'll also think about all of my mentors who have helped me reach my full potential in private practice over the last 25 years.
The role of the mentor is to provide guidance, support, and advice. In All It Takes is a Goal, Jon Acuff describes mentors as "...a wise person who is ten-plus years ahead of you in either age or experience." One of the Vision Source pillars is "collaboration," and mentors are a key component. I've been fortunate to have started forming my inner circle of mentors as a student, but whether you are a student or a seasoned practitioner contemplating private practice, having the support of mentors can be the key to private practice success.
Mentors are teachers. They lead by example and give advice based on years of experience. Vision Source founder, Dr. Glen Ellisor, was providing 5-star patient experiences before it was a catchphrase. One day when I was working as his doctor's assistant, a contact lens order was delayed. Dr. Ellisor gave me the keys to his truck, asked me to go to his Kingwood practice, pick up a pair of contacts, and deliver them to the patient's home. That's a 5-star patient experience.
Another one of my mentors was Dr. Kevin McDaid. I credit Dr. McDaid for guiding me to private practice. As his associate, he taught me how to be a caring practitioner and about the business of private practice optometry. He was a strong businessman and a compassionate optometrist. I wouldn't want to be a vendor negotiating the deal with him, but his patients loved him. I still have a picture of Dr. McDaid displayed in my office to inspire me and remind me about the impact he had on my career.
Mentors give you the confidence and security to act boldly in private practice, which inherently involves taking risks. Mentors are your safety net and your playbook. Your mentors have gone through the process, have implemented the new programs, and are willing to share their success and failures with you. When considering a Vision Source program called Focus on Frames, I followed the lead of my Vision Source Administrator. He shared his process and made the on-boarding much easier. I can't imagine having to reinvent every onboarding process on my own. This collaboration is echoed throughout the Vision Source network.
You won't need to look past the Vision Source family to find your mentor(s). Vision Source members are leaders in optometry. We are local and national association leaders. We are researchers and speakers in every facet of our industry. Vision Source Administrators are obvious mentors, as they are hand-picked for their experience and for their willingness to help Vision Source members reach their full potential. (FD: I'm a Vision Source Administrator in the Houston market along with Dr. Claudio Lagunas and Dr. Megan Stubinski.) My mentors and mentees are Vision Source Administrators, local Vision Source members, and students. I'm proud to say that I've mentored dozens of students over the last 25 years and have led a majority to become optometrists and some to private practice. Let your mentors guide you and give you the confidence and security you need to reach your full potential. I have no doubt you'll be able to find your mentors and mentees. Or you can reach out to Claudio, Megan, or me.