Clockwise from top left: ODs A. Blake Hutto of Family Vision Care; Katie McElvaine of Springfield Family Vision; Angie Patteson of Sunset Eye Care; and Texas L. Smith of Dr. Texas L. Smith & Associates.

Experience is the best teacher, but we don’t always have the luxury of it. So we asked ODs, “What is the one thing you wish you had learned or known when you graduated optometry school that you ended up having to learn the hard way?” And we rounded up some of our favorite answers. Students and new grads, take note. You may have just finished your formal education, but that means the school of hard knocks is just beginning. Take these words to heart and let these more experienced ODs help soften the blows.

Penn Moody, OD
Moody Eyes, Indianapolis, IN

"The most important part of the eye exam has nothing to do with instrumentation. When I was a young OD, an older OD told me, ‘What really matters is how you interact with your patients. Holding the coat for the little old lady is more important than the eye exam. Listening to their stories ... being empathetic ... Those are the things that count.’”


Mark Margolies, OD
Mark M. Margolies, OD, Levittown, PA

"Some patients will always have a hard time adjusting to their glasses, no matter what you do.”


Rita Ellent, OD
The Gardens Eye Care, Forest Hills, NY

"I wish I had taken time early on, either as a student or recent grad, to observe the front, optical running of a practice.”


A. Blake Hutto, OD
Family Vision Care, Alma, GA

"Business ... billing and coding, cash-on-hand, profit margins, P&L sheets, budget templates ... none of this is taught at the level it should be. ‘Doctors are often your worst business people.’ I’ve heard that quote countless times. It’s true, but I’ve chosen to make sure to go against the grain on this one.”


Chris Arbaugh, OD
Alpine Vision, Colorado Springs, CO

"Patient and staff loyalty are a rare thing.”


Katie McElvaine, OD
Springfield Family Vision, Springfield, MO

"You don’t have to work for someone else just because they have the best practice in town. You can make a new model, have way more fun and give your town another alternative without the stress of working for someone else.”


Texas L. Smith, OD
Dr. Texas L. Smith & Associates, Citrus Heights, CA

"Get the exam fee and a deposit on any Rx or contact lens order the day of the exam. If patients want to make payments, ask them which credit card they wish to use. We tell patients we have an understanding with Bank of America: We won’t make loans, if they don’t do eye exams or fit spectacles.”


Angie Patteson, OD
Sunset Eye Care, Johnson City, TN

"I wish I had more background on human psychology. Knowing why patients behave in a certain way would have helped me understand them better.”

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