March Student in Focus: Private Practice Expert Sara Davies of ICO!

icoAs our newly designed website continues to move forward, we here at would like to say thank you for your continuing support! What better way to thank our members than to highlight one of our own! Kicking off our 2016 Student in Focus series is none other than ICO’s very own Sara Davies! Her passion, determination, and drive to be one of her school’s leaders in their Private Practice Club earned her the nomination for March’s Student in Focus.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself, Sara!

I’m part of Illinois College of Optometry’s class of 2016, the class famous for the Thrift Shop parody “Thrift Opt.” I hail from the land of maple syrup and hockey, and I will join my fiancé in our hometown of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta once I graduate.

Are you like other students who like to stream shows online when you’re not studying, or do you have other ways of distressing from school?

I am probably the only optometry student that does not watch Netflix! Instead, I love staying active with hot yoga, biking, hiking, running, or intramural sports at ICO. I actually ran the Chicago Marathon with a handful of classmates in my second year of optometry school and am thrilled to cross that off my bucket list! Intramurals were a lot of fun at ICO, I was on the undefeated Canadian floor hockey team “The Eh Team.” I also enjoy cooking and photography,sarahowever I could be a lot better at both if I had more time to dedicate. In the future I would love to have a private pilot license and a small airplane to fly the Canadian skies.

If we could talk to any of your classmates right now, what would they say about you?

According to my optometry school roommate Ashley Porter, who always referred to me as a superhero because of all of the extracurriculars I was involved in, I am a passion driven student. I attempt to get the most out of my education instead of trying to simply memorize. I take the time to understand each concept and its application to my patients. I take any opportunity to explore the field of optometry and broaden by knowledge by including myself in multiple club memberships and optometric workshops/conventions. My outside efforts supplement my learning and I view them as a valuable and essential part of my education as a student. I not only strive to excel on clinical and academic levels, but on a personal level with my patients and colleagues. I am always willing to share my knowledge and time with my classmates and act as an advocate for my patients.

How has being a leader in your class helped you prepare for what’s waiting for you after graduation?ICO PPC

I have held many leadership positions in my time at ICO including Student Association Class Representative, Contact Lens Association Secretary, Canadian Association of Optometry Students Class Representative, Gold Key Society Officer, and Private Practice Club President. I have always viewed my leadership positions as preparation for owning a private practice (buying a practice or starting cold). I imagined my Private Practice Club team as employees and learned how to effectively communicate with different personalities and leadership positions. Promoting Private Practice Club events taught me valuable marketing strategies that can be applied to a practice in the future.

As a first year I was pretty shy when it came to networking, but being in a leadership position forced me to network. Forming relationships with other industry professionals is extremely valuable and will certainly help me post graduation. You don’t have to be in a leadership position to network, and I believe that everyone should be going to conferences and making important connections because “who you know” will be advantageous in your career!

I see you are a member of the Student Optometric Leadership Network (SOLN) through your Private Practice Club. Can you tell us a little bit about SOLN and how students can get involved?

SOLN is an organization that promotes the unification of private practice/practice management clubs in the nation. Every year the incoming and outgoing private practice/practice management club president at each optometry school meets at a conference to discuss events and ideas to strengthen every institution’s club. Numerous practice management speakers are present at these conferences for the club leaders to network with and invite to speak at their school.

The best way to get involved in SOLN is to become the president of your private practice/practice management club! You make so many fantastic connections and form friendships with students from optometry schools all over the county. Attending other conferences such as Vision Expo and Optometry’s Meeting are a lot more fun because you get to catch up with your SOLN friends and leave your school friends wondering how you know so many people.

preston icoThat being said, congratulations to you and your club for being the winner of the Preston Cup for 2015 amongst all the other private practice clubs in the nation! What set your group apart from the other private practice clubs in the nation?

ICO’s Private Practice Club executive board worked very well as a team to host many speaker events and build the largest and most active club on campus. I am very passionate about the Private Practice Club and it must have been infectious because my team was just as motivated as I was to make the well-established club even better. The executive board came up with many innovative ideas and events then put them into action. I believe that our innovation won ICO the Preston Cup as the voting SOLN members were able to take many new ideas back to their schools’ clubs.

Do you think it’s important for students to consider private practice in their future career and why?

I think it is important for students to consider all of the streams optometry provides and find what they are passionate about. Personally, I really love the business aspect that private practice provides. Private practice is appealing because you are able to build a business into your own, make all of the decisions, and potentially make more money than other practice modalities. Being a business owner also provides an added challenge on top of being a great optometrist.

Congratulations to Ms. Sara Davies on her success! Do you know an outstanding student who should be recognized for their dedicated effort and achievements? Nominate them to be the next Student in Focus!

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