My Experience with Maternity Leave in Corporate Optometry

It can be hard to maneuver maternity leaves in optometry clinics, especially the first time around. Both times I took my maternity leave, I was working in a corporate optical. It was my 4th year of practicing optometry, and I felt as though I had plenty to prove. My first maternity leave I was an employee and my second I was a sublease owner and each experience was different.

50 Work Hours a Week

My career path didn’t start out in corporate optometry, really started after I had gotten married and my husband and I were looking to start a family. I had always worked 50 hours a week between different private practices and did some fill in work for corporate opticals. At that time may private practices were not offering full time with benefits. I had chosen to take a full time employed position in corporate optometry because of the security and benefits. I always kept a part time or fill in job for additional income. During the pregnancy I never took any sick time and didn’t complain about being tired or use it as an excuse. When the baby arrived, I had high expectations from myself. I felt as though any sort of perceived failure was not even an option for me. I had continued with the same work ethic as before, but had a new realization of how the hours of operation and the responsibilities that came with the position might not fit with a new born. My husband and I had to work like a team more than ever! It was great to be able to take the time in the morning and prepare for the day. My corporate job started at 10am and gave me plenty of time to drop her off at daycare. In the afternoons my husband would pick her up. The corporate optical was accommodating to my pumping schedule because they had to to be by law, but anything to do with daycare closures or leaving earlier was not accommodated for.

Life does not have a clear roadmap.

Unfortunately, because I was so focused new role as Mom and responsibilities at work, I didn’t account for what was ahead. I have always been a planner, but with a child anything can pop up. I would plan meals and sleeping schedules etc ahead of time. I would work certain days that my husband was off so we didn’t have to put our child in daycare. Many times that meant making the sacrifice to work Sundays in a corporate optical to be able not put our child an extra day in daycare. I was multitasking more then ever at that time in my career. I was determined to not slow down!

New Sublease Opportunity.

While working as an employee in corporate optometry, I started to get confidence in myself and my business skills. I was able to observe optical staff and learn the business aspects of optometry. When that job finally ran its course, I knew it was time to move on and explore the next stage of my career. I always wanted to be a business owner. I was nervous to start my new sublease, knowing that I was going to have another baby in 7 months. When I signed my sublease agreement, it was my little secret that I was pregnant with my 2nd daughter. I honestly believe that if I told the recruiter and regional manager that I was pregnant during my interview, that I would never had gotten the sublease. I had heard stories in the past about female ODs about having their leases terminated when being pregnant and after maternity leave. Unfortunately in corporate optometry many decision makers of a brand are men. They have predisposed notices of young females moms and being a business owner. Many times females are held back to new opportunities because many hiring managers think that females already have to much on their plates to take on an additional task or higher position.

With my second child, I worked up to the day before giving birth. As a sublease owner, I was responsible for finding OD coverage during my maternity leave. With such a large network within this corporate brand, one would think that there would be support with recruiting and helping another sublease OD out. I had reached out multiple times a week to my regional manager to discuss coverage and other business topics, to just be sent to voicemail with no reply back. I had sent numerous emails as well with no response. After months of searching, I finally got another sublease OD to fill in. As a business owner paying an OD to sit there is not the best business strategy. Be mindful as a sublease owner to not loss money paying an OD to sit there just to have hours of coverage. Negotiate hours during maternity leave. I had a C section on my 2nd child and doctor’s recommendation was to take 8 weeks off to heal. After 1 week of maternity leave, I was getting calls 1-2 times as week from my regional manager about when I was scheduled to come back. Those phone calls continued til I came back at 8 weeks, and I did have coverage and it was the slow time of the year in the industry. During my maternity, I would get numerous emails from the regional manager about business topics on my sublease and optical store.

Balancing Work and Life

I immediately headed back to work after my maternity leave doing my regular schedule and took on a second sublease as well. I actually had the happiest time of my career during the early years of my sublease and as a new mom. Everything was new and exciting. I was able to spend plenty of time with my children, and was growing a small business. I look at my business as my 3rd child. I have grown that small business into a 3 location business and never even looked back!

Corporate optometry has its pros and cons. It might be a good place to start a female or not depending on your situation. For me I knew what the goal was in my career and found a way to utilize my time to be able to have a small business when my children needed me the most, and be able to plan out my career to have multiple subleases and different businesses. All those seeds were planted when I gave birth to my 2nd child. I knew exactly where I wanted to go and I gave my “3rd child” all the love and dedication that it needed to flourish and grow up to be a strong passive income business!

Taking the time and planning it out properly can allow you to focus on your family as well as your work. It shouldn’t be an either/or thing but rather a focus on balancing everything together

Overcoming Optometrist Burnout in the Midst of Great Resignation

Burnout refers to a state of prolonged tension that affects your physical, emotional, and cognitive well-being.  After the coronavirus outbreak, the working environment has drastically changed for optometrists all over the world.

If you find yourself constantly stressed, you may be experiencing signs of an optometrist burnout without realizing it. The good news is that once you identify it, you can immediately adopt measures to overcome it.

Symptoms of Burnout

Do you feel exhausted and irritable despite getting sufficient rest every day? A burnout can take a toll on your mental, physical and emotional health. The symptoms can be broadly categorized into behavioral and physical signs.

1.      Behavioral Signs

If you are suffering from burnout, you may feel demotivated at work. You may not feel like coming to work on time or skip it altogether on some days. There is also a tendency to procrastinate due to difficulty in concentrating on tasks.

You may find yourself resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as consuming alcohol, drugs, or excessive eating. It is common to vent out your frustration to other people, such as coworkers or family members.

2.      Physical Signs

A burnout can leave you feeling physically and mentally drained. No matter how many hours of sleep you receive, this tiredness is not likely to go away.

Burnout also drags down your immunity, possibly resulting in frequent illness. You may also experience mild symptoms such as headache, muscle ache, or back pain. Due to stress, you may go through a change in your appetite and sleep routine as well.

Tips to Deal with Optometrist Burnout

The outbreak of the pandemic has slowed down business activity and compelled many professionals to work from home. A global change in lifestyles includes adhering to COVID-19 precautions and limiting human interaction.

The very definition of ‘normal’ has transformed, triggering different emotional and physical responses among optometrists. Here are three simple tips to overcome optometrist burnout during COVID-19.

1. Break the Monotony

Work is probably not the same when you have to practice social distancing and wear a mask all the time. Performing the same tasks each day with added restrictions may get monotonous and boring.

Find ways to make work more interesting by adding variations to your daily routine. Try learning a new skill in optometry to fill the dull gaps in the day with an engaging activity. You can also work on introducing a special service for your clients or adding a new testing procedure to your eye care facility.

Another rewarding idea is to get in touch with the optometry community. Take part in online conferences to get inspired by new ideas or engage in discussions with other optometrists to discuss future developments in the field.

2. Reduce Sources of Stress

Ask yourself what’s bothering you the most. One of the most effective ways to recover from burnout is to reduce stress at the source.

Perhaps, you are perturbed by several roadblocks in the workflow. There may be menial administrative tasks, maintenance issues, and unpaid insurance claims holding you down. Try to get these worries out of the way and focus on aspects more relevant to your optometry practice.

Decrease the administrative load by delegating responsibilities to your staff members. If you work in partnership with another optometrist, hold regular meetings to resolve issues before they multiply.

3. Work Out

Physical exercise may not initially seem like a good idea when you are going through pandemic fatigue, but it can do wonders to improve your mood.

Spare some time for a work out every day and notice a positive change in your physical and emotional well-being. You don’t necessarily have to go to the gym for exercise.

Try simple exercises at your optometry practice during breaks, or take a walk around the block during down time. Engaging in easy exercises is a rewarding way to utilize your time if you are experiencing a plunge in business activity due to the pandemic.

COVID-19 is a global health crisis that has negatively affected economies worldwide. If you find yourself overstressed, you may very well be a victim of an optometrist burnout. Small changes to your daily routine can help you combat pandemic fatigue and boost your health and mood.

Why new patients aren’t finding your practice online

5 Reasons New Patients Aren’t Finding Your Optometry Practice Online

According to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 12 million adults in the US require medical treatment for eye problems every year. This means that the demand for optometrists is very strong. If attracting new patients to your clinic seems like a tedious task, then your digital marketing tactics might be to blame. Take a look at the top 5 reasons why new patients might not be finding your optometry practice online.

1.     You Have a Small Online Footprint

Gone are the days when people referred the Yellow Pages to find an optician or eye care provider in their locality. Now, it’s the online directories, i.e., the internet that they consult. If your practice’s profile information is incomplete or missing on popular online directories, especially Google, you are missing out on huge opportunities to grow your customer base.

Make sure all the local citations for your business are correct and up to date. Maintaining a Google My Business account is usually a good idea as it helps you manage your practice info and ensure the accuracy of data for potential patients searching for eye care services near you.

2.     Your Optometry Website is Not Optimized

A local consumer review survey reveals that at least one in every four patients searched for a local health care provider online before visiting the clinic in person. Therefore, ensuring that your business website ranks high on local search queries should be your top priority. To optimize your practice website for the search engines, you need to follow a proper SEO strategy. Some of the main steps for creating a winning website include:

  • Conducting keyword research
  • Using the most-searched-for keywords strategically in your web pages
  • Regularly publishing well-written, quality content
  • Using internal and external links to reputable websites to increase domain authority
  • Choosing a well-structured and easy to navigate web design

3.     You Do Not Have Online Patient Reviews

Reviews and ratings from existing patients play an important role in attracting new ones to your practice. Therefore, you must gather and post patients reviews on your optometry practice website. Online feedback assures new patients of the quality of care you provide. Plus, it can also help increase your website ranking on the search engine results page. Google states that positive customer reviews help improve the visibility of businesses online.

You can distribute survey forms for collecting patient feedback and upload them by yourself. Or you can simply ask your patients to share their post-visit thoughts on your website.  

4.     You Are Not Using Social Media

More than 75% of the US adult population uses one or more types of social media websites. So, if you aren’t maintaining an active presence on these sites, you are bound to face difficulty in attracting new patients to your practice.

Staying active on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram not only raises brand awareness and your practice visibility but also helps you build a stronger relationship with your clients.

5.     You Do Not Have a Blog

ODs who do not include blogging in their practice marketing strategy are shooting themselves in the foot. Blogging helps enhance your search engine ranking by positioning your practice website among the top results. To get the best results with blogging, try to offer a mix of sponsored and organic content.

Some of the main topics you must write about include the services you provide and common questions patients ask about different treatment plans.

Attracting new patients to your optometry practice requires time and effort, but you can easily grow your patient base if you avoid the common marketing mistakes discussed above.