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Many of you are probably asking yourself, “What is she talking about? Why do I need an exit strategy? I am just starting my career and hardly need to be thinking about my exit plan.” If I am reading your mind right now, keep reading, and hopefully you will understand that it is never too early to know your exit strategy.
If anything, I really underestimated the true value of formulating a long term plan along with an exit strategy. For me, my vision was always private practice. I put my energy and efforts wholeheartedly into getting my practice going and never even considered for a second that I would have any interest in any other aspect of optometry. How wrong I was! Fortunately for me, very early in my career, I laid the groundwork for ensuring an exit strategy for all of my professional decisions which has proven to pay dividends for me.
Only five years into my career, I am proud to say that I have enjoyed a multitude of different opportunities within the optometric industry. I am pleased to serve as the editor of this newsletter plus I have lectured internationally, served as an instructor and mentor for optometry students and new graduates, and have participated in a number of research projects for the contact lens industry.

The Vision Care Institute, LLC is an innovative professional resource for new Eye Care Professionals.  The Institute’s core programming for new O.D.s and optometric students places great emphasis on doctor-patient interactions.  This unique 3-day program educates on technical skills for fitting specialty contact lenses, decision-making, problem solving, and communication skills.  The Institute and its faculty are dedicated to providing knowledge along with the skills and the confidence necessary to succeed in the rapidly evolving world of vision care.  Please join the ranks of our esteemed alumni!  To learn more or register to attend the Institute please visit our website www.thevisioncareinstitute.com

We Want to Hear From You! new O.D.s, what’s on your mind? Please send us your comments, questions and column ideas. We’ll include them in upcoming editions of the newsletter. Please e-mail us at response@newod.com

If you would have asked me five years ago if I saw myself doing anything besides private practice, I would have told you no. Private practice was my dream from the time I started optometry school, and for a long time, I saw private practice as my final destination and never really considered the possibility that the start of my practice might be the beginning to a number of other career opportunities within optometry.

Everyone usually equates an exit strategy to retirement. I challenge you to think of your exit strategy in a different context. Think about your exit strategy as your option for change should you choose to exercise it. Being extremely passionate about the profession of optometry and equally passionate about private practice, it always saddens me to see ODs who are unhappy with where they are currently in their career. Regardless of their reasons for unhappiness, all of these unhappy individuals share something in common: they lacked the foresight to plan an exit strategy which has left them feeling as if they don’t have choices or options to make a change.

One of the most valuable lessons that I have learned is that I really empowered my career path by always having an exit strategy for everything that I have done. For example, I worked in commercial optometry in order to supplement my income while my practice was new. While my experience within commercial optometry was a good one, I ultimately knew that my exit strategy for working within commercial optometry was to pay down some of my debt and then devote more time to my practice as it grew. As a result, I planned for it so I was able to walk away from the enticing quick, easy cash that I earned while working in this environment. To the contrary, I have a colleague who also started a private practice and also worked in a commercial location for the exact same reasons, to pay down his debt and supplement his income while his practice was new and growing. Unfortunately, he didn’t plan his exit strategy and has now found himself financially dependent on the supplemental income that he gets while working for the retail chains. Let me stress that there is absolutely nothing wrong with working for a commercial chain if it is what you want to do. Unfortunately for my colleague and good friend, he is miserable and is finding that his practice’s growth is stunted since he can’t devote more time to growing the practice because of his commercial optometry commitments.

Know your exit strategy. Be sure that you keep your options open and you have choices. Life is too short to be unhappy, and optometry is far too great of a profession for you to feel as if it has you trapped, without choices or options. Plan your exit strategy now for both your short term and long term goals, and I can assure you, this will pay off dividends for you just as it has for me.

Starting Strategies

In preparing your exit strategies, write down a timeline of events for your goals. After listing your goals, begin to fill in the details of the individual goals including what specific requirements each goal has and identify the exit strategy that will accompany each goal. It is easy to outline your goals, but be sure to outline your exit strategies as well. - Kelly Kerksick, OD

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