A great thing about optometry is that doctors have different career options. They can work in academia, at a corporate or privately owned practice as an employee, or as an independent practice owner. Since most optometrists work in some type of practice, this blog entry will focus on working as a corporate employee versus being an independent owner.
Both have their pluses and minuses, so the choice of corporate or independent boils down to what kind of optometry you want to practice. Here are some things to consider.
If you own an independent practice you will have to fill out forms/EHR, pay bills, etc., at least until you can afford to pay for someone else to do these things. With corporate optometry, the company has someone on staff to do all these things and you can concentrate on seeing patients. If you don’t mind administrative work, then an independent practice might be for you. If your views on administrative work are “I never met a form that I liked filling out.” then give corporate optometry a shot.
Dollars and Cents
With an independent practice, your salary is dependent on how many patients you see and you get paid once everything else is paid. In a corporate setting, your salary is set by headquarters and it comes once every two weeks. In an independent practice, you can choose to see more patients or add other products, which in turn can make you more money (that is, if everything goes according to plan). In a corporate practice, the decision to add products or increase the patient load is made by someone else. Of course, you can still increase your salary at a corporate practice by going into management or working at a district office or headquarters. As to which is better, it all depends on your personal and financial situation.
Types of patients
This is one area that doesn’t follow the corporate versus independent optometry script. Since eye issues don’t discriminate, if you want to treat a patient with glaucoma and you work in corporate optometry, do it. If you want to refer patients with high IOPs and you work in independent optometry, do it. An OD is an OD no matter where he or she works and the OD is limited only by what the laws of their state are. So, whatever type of patient you feel passionate about helping, that’s the one you treat (and don’t refer).
Since corporate already decided who will do the administrative work, as well as cleaning, repairing, etc., at the end of the day, you go home and your works stays at work. As a corporate OD, however, you still have the option to learn more about the business end of optometry. Corporate optometry is successful for a reason. If owning a practice is a goal for you, learn more about what your company does. If it isn’t proprietary, feel free to use it in your practice once (or if) you decide to start one.
Corporate or independent optometry? Both? The choice is yours! Either one can work out to be a good choice depending on what you hope to accomplish in your professional life.