During the first annual Private Practice Extravaganza “Eye Learn”, the Inter American University of Puerto Rico’s Private Practice Club presented students with speaker Justin Bazan O.D., owner of Park Slope Eye in Brooklyn New York, who gave several interesting suggestions and facts about his experience going into private practice.
As most of us optometry students know, it is hard to get a great foundation of business etiquette and even vocabulary during school. Dr. Bazan, being a young O.D. himself, sympathizes with us, since becoming an optometrist today requires a lot of business and practice management skills that most optometry students just don’t have!
(Dr. Bazan presenting to IAUPR students on becoming successful optometrists in today’s market)
During the presentation Dr. Bazan focused on the FIVE skills he wishes they had taught him in optometry school before he went off to open his own private practice from the ground up:
1. Personal Development: This is a process of expanding, shaping, and improving skills, knowledge, and interests to improve your abilities and effectiveness as an O.D.
This can involve developing skills and knowledge that will enable you to move ahead to the next stage in your optometric career, but also to expand your scope of skills and knowledge so that you become more of an expert in the optometry field!
“Read personal development books on your own” was the main point Dr. Bazan emphasized on during the presentation. “It will not only help you in your personal life, but will improve your success as an optometrist”.
2. Professional Development: Professional development refers to many types of educational experiences related to a person’s work. The point of professional development is to learn and apply new knowledge and skills that will improve your performance as and O.D. Even though it is required by most states to obtain a certain amount of continuing education course credits, Dr. Bazan emphasizes how important it is to voluntarily go out and learn as much as you can about our field. Attend trade shows and conventions like the popular and exciting Vision Expo, which gives a plethora of different courses covering a range of topics such as new technology in the optometry field and even ways to enhance profit in your practice!
Besides attending educational courses, you can achieve professional development just by reading books that will guide you in the right direction. Dr. Bazan swears by the book “201 Secrets of a High-Performance Optometric Practice” by Bob Levoy, stating “This is a must read for any optometry student and recent graduate.”
Pictured Left to Right: Dasha Inozemtseva (Treasurer), Jared Scaramuzzi (VP), Ricardo Rodriguez (Secretary), Mike Elton, Dr. Justin Bazan, Dr. Iris Cabello, Jaymit Bakshi (President), Simran Garcha (Public Relations)
3. Sales: “Sell your expertise.” As an optometrist you are constantly required to sell yourself to your patients. Your abilities should be emphasized, and most certainly your specialties. You will eventually own or manage a business and you need to keep your chair full. Dr. Bazan recommends another great book that students should read in their “free time” called “The Little Red Book of Selling” by Jeffery Gitomer.
4. Customer Service: Read this book! “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless” by Jeffery Gitomer. In order to be a successful practice owner you must be willing to put in the time to learn, even if this requires reading on your own. This book is a great tool to help teach you what optometry school failed to teach you about keeping your patients happy and keeping them around.
5. Marketing: What separates you from the rest? Marketing is essential knowledge that will help you stand out as an O.D., but in order to do this creatively you must take the time to learn! Dr. Bazan recommends yet another book :“Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Business Creativity”, by Michael Michalko as an interesting tool to see what everyone else sees but in a different light. Using creativity to market your practice will attract more patients making you a more successful optometrist!
Whether you work on these now or later, know that these FIVE skills are essential when building your optometric practice. READ books, ATTEND conventions and meetings, and be OPEN-MINDED so that you can make up for what school fails to teach us about the business world!