It’s awesome visiting a private practice, because while I’m certain that ICO will train me to eventually become a competent optometrist, the business side of running a successful optometry practice is something that I don’t believe can fully be taught in any institution. In speaking to different optometrists who own a practice, almost all of them tell me, “Optometry is easy, but business management isn’t.” Before I came to ICO, I worked at an optometry office, and I thought I learned all I needed to know about how to run one. But then I found out there are different kinds of practices that focus on different things, with varying reasons for their success. I’m very interested in vision therapy, so I was fortunate to be able to visit a practice that specializes in that.
Tip: If you dream of opening a practice one day, you’ll want to visit some existing ones before you open your own. You’ll learn a lot at ICO, but there are things that you can only learn outside the classroom. Plus, you’ll be sitting in the same room all year, so field trips are a nice change of learning environment. It’s worth your while, I promise.
Dr. Margolis’ office is inside this huge medical building, where the office gets so busy, sometimes the parking lot isn’t big enough to fit all the cars of patients.
Dr. Neil Margolis, an ICO alum, was kind enough to host members of ICO’s College of Optometrists in Vision Development club and Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association student group at his suburban practice. He blocked off an entire afternoon to teach us things we might never learn in our normal optometric academic curriculum. His practice specializes in working with patients that have visual-spatial processing, tracking, or other binocular vision issues that may negatively affect academic learning and visual attention. Children compose the biggest portion of his practice, and from this visit, I could really sense that he cares about them.
After giving us an office tour, Dr. Margolis discussed how he came to build such a successful practice, imparted clinical pearls of wisdom and printed out lots of reading material for us.
Once a month, the River East Art Center fills with crowds in search of new culinary, art and fashion experiences. All this occurs at Dose Market, a monthly offering that showcases about 50 local businesses to event-goers. These business may be new and using the market as their debut vehicle, or they may be established and increasing their exposure to tastemakers and everyday girls and guys. I heard about Dose several months ago and finally decided to check it out this past Sunday. And thankfully, the weather was beautiful and sunny!
In the days leading up to Sunday, the Dose website was constantly updated with new and enticing info that fueled my anticipation. For one thing, a new French bakery was debuting at the market. Macarons are my favorite and I was sold.
This year, my work study job is leading campus tours for prospective students visiting for admissions interviews. One question that I consistently get is, “Should I bring a car to Chicago?” As easy as the question sounds, I have such a hard time answering it, and here is why.
I own a car that I still make payments on, but I don’t even keep it with me in Chicago. That sounds stupid, right? Well, it is not that simple. It’s part of my “Let’s be creative with money while I’m in optometry school” plan. I’ve always had a vehicle in high school and undergrad. In college, I was that person who took four or five carless people for weekly grocery store runs. At the time, I remember thinking, “How do they live without a car?” In the four years between graduating from college and entering ICO, I was working and I acquired an awesome Honda Civic coupe (I call her Miss Galaxy, after her color, galaxy grey). In addition to getting a fantastic 33 miles per gallon, I now also had a car loan. On top of the loan payments that my student self couldn’t afford, there are additional expenses that go along with maintaining a car. My creative plan involved keeping the Civic with my Milwaukee-based fiancé, who drives a Ford F-150 (14 MPG). To save some money on gas while visiting me down in Chicago–we’re talking almost 200 miles of driving every other week–he drives Miss Galaxy. With the gas money he saves by driving my car for these visits, as well as routine driving in Milwaukee, he contributes extra money to my car payment–meaning he pretty much pays for the car that I can’t afford. And, I’m able to access my car for those few times each quarter when it’s necessary, and have it available when it’s time to go out to externship sites during fourth year rotations.
When my fiancé recently traveled to the East Coast for an extended work trip, he asked me if I wanted the car back full-time for a month. I’ve missed the freedom and flexibility a car can provide so I jumped on the opportunity. I ran a mini-experiment on how much more I would love or hate my life in Chicago when I’ve got a car versus my normal life without one.
When spring quarter had begun and course syllabi were delivered to our mailboxes, I became aware that by the end of our first year, we’d all learn to complete a patient refraction and be able to write prescriptions for refractive error. In a typical visit to an optometrist, determining a patient’s prescription through refraction is half of the exam and what most people think an eye appointment entails. The phoropter had always stood atop the pedestal of optical instruments as a device I dreamed of working. Now, with just weeks left in this school year, I’m close to knowing the ins and outs of a phoropter like the back of my hand.
If you’ve been keeping up with the recent blog posts, you’ve read about how Jenn and Fatima were preparing for Eye Ball. For the women out there, those posts were full of helpful hints and lovely pictures of dresses and accessories. For the guys out there, it was an unprecedented look into the female mind showing just how much effort goes into looking fabulous. Now how about an examination of the event from a guy’s perspective?
We all knew about the event for months, we’d selected our dinner entrees weeks in advance, and people have been buzzing about outfits since I found out I was accepted. So what did that mean for my close group of guy friends? The week of the event, it was go time. We’d waited until the last possible moment, something I have a knack for, and had to throw something together that actually looked presentable. One proactive roommate bought a polka dot shirt online a week or two before and another friend bought a new suit the morning of the event (apparently his old one was sporting a few holes), but for the most part it was time to raid the closet.
When first and second years have a bit of free time (it actually happens once in a blue moon), we get together with the professor(s) in our colleague group and connect with each other. I’m a colleague-group facilitator for Dr. Faheemah Saeed, our first year optics professor, and her husband, Zeki Nur, ICO’s director of benefits who also moonlights as a finance professor here. Facilitators organize events for colleague groups so that teachers and students can get together and have fun. I think it’s a great way to get to know our faculty in a fun, more relaxed setting. There’s a lot less tension when grades aren’t involved.
After our first meeting during orientation, Dr. Saeed and Zeki were so kind to invite us to their beautiful home near Navy Pier for brunch. Dr. Saeed is not only good at optics, we learned she’s an amazing cook as well.