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You, The ECP

Some may live by the mantra, ‘Show us the money!’ At INVISION, it has always been, ‘Show us the ECP!’ This is the section where respondents got to do just that.

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32. How old are you?

20-29
3%
30-39
23%
40-49
30%
50-59
25%
60-70
16%
Above 70
3%

33. What are the most overrated things about being an ECP?

Here were your answers, counting down from 10…

10. The Fancy Tech

  • “The newest lens we get pushed on us. Often, it is crap.”

9. The Insurance “Premium”

  • “That vision plans pay us what patients think they do.”

8. The Adoring Staff

  • “The level of professionalism.”

7. The Flexible Hours

  • “Always being ‘on.’”

6. The Professional Camaraderie

  • “(Everyone claiming to be the best doctor in town.”

5. The Esteem

  • “Everyone thinks you can diagnose them over the phone.”

4. The Respect

  • “Licensing of opticians is important but paying them isn’t.”

3. The Expertise

  • “How intelligent and well-trained you have to be to sell glasses. It turns out there’s a lot of bozos out there doing it every day.”

2. The Pay

  • “Low pay for the amount of schooling and loans we have.”

1. THE FINANCIAL REWARDS

  • “That you’ll make a lot of money because of the huge mark-ups on the product.”

34. What is the most underrated thing about being an ECP?

Counting down again from 10…

10. The Potential To Do Good

  • “ECPs have the potential to have a great influence on a patient’s health.”

9. The Kids

  • “The joy in helping a child see with the first pair of glasses.”

8. The Freedom

  • “The freedom to go fishing whenever.”

7. The Importance

  • “You only get two eyes.”

6. The Patients/Customers

  • “People can underestimate the relationships you develop with patients and their families.”

5. The Satisfaction

  • “How it feels to truly change someone’s life through vision.”

4. The Time

  • “That you work 9-5. That’s hilarious.”

3. The Kindness

  • “The joy of helping people see.”

2. The Disrespect

  • “That we’re just retail and aren’t real healthcare professionals.”

1. THE KNOWLEDGE AND SKILL

  • “The education that we have received yet medical doctors think we are still opticians.”
  • “The complexity of the eye and vision that we take for granted every day.”
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35. How do you identify? | 47. What’s your race or ethnicity?

The Big Survey 2021: You, The ECP

COMMENT: Though there is still much progress to be made, the optical industry is relatively diverse in terms of gender and racial makeup. At about 70%, fewer participants in the industry identify as white than in general retail (78%) and in general healthcare (73%) according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Note that whites accounted for about 78% of the American workforce in 2020, African Americans 12%, Hispanic or Latino nearly 18%, and Asians 6%. (Includes people identifying as more than one race or ethnicity.)

36. What will be your one-word theme for 2022?

The Big Survey 2021: You, The ECP

37. If you wear a Fitbit/Apple Watch or some other activity tracker, about how many steps do you take during a typical workday?

The Big Survey 2021: You, The ECP

COMMENT: Note that our tally excludes the 29% of respondents who said they don’t track their steps. While there is debate over the optimum number of steps to aim for in a day (the standard advice used to be 10,000 but now studies show 8,000 is sufficient), the basic rule remains, physical activity has great health benefits — and our poll suggests more than half of ECPs (59%) should try to move around a bit more.

38. What was the most important business lesson your parents or guardians gave you?

Above all, ECPs inherited respect for hard work—“Work hard, and if you fail, get up and try again”—and the golden rule. Their parents also extolled the value of honesty and frugality: “Always do what is right, especially when you think no one is watching. Someone is always watching!!” and “Don’t get a Visa card.”

Other pearls of parental wisdom included:

  • “Every day is a good day to work.”
  • “Good lawyer, accountant and insurance agent.”
  • “Don’t assume you know what anyone can or can’t afford.”
  • “Spend money on the essentials; the decor and fancy can come later.”
  • “Be nice to everyone: You never know when you will face them in a job interview.”
  • “The truth is much easier to remember than a lie. Be honest in what you do and admit mistakes.”
  • “Write down plans and review them, as opposed to making impulsive decisions.”
  • “If you have a million dollars in the bank, you don’t have anything until you’ve paid off the last person you owe money to.”
  • “Be on time.”
  • “Dress sharp.”
  • “Don’t take s**t from anybody.”

39. What is the most important business lesson you will try to pass on to your children? (Imaginary child is fine).

Similarly, ECPs’ main message for their kids is to work hard, but they appear more eager than their parents were to contextualize this advice. While “do unto others” is still high in the mix, as words to live by they have been eclipsed somewhat by exhortations to “follow your passion”, or at least strike a healthy work-life balance: “Money isn’t everything. Time is the only nonrenewable resource.”

Here is some other advice ECPs have for their kids:

  • “Have fun and love what you do every day. Don’t let anyone steal your joy.”
  • “Spare no opportunity to live well. Life is short and the person with the best stories will be the winner at the nursing home.”
  • “The most important thing is to keep up with the changes of the times and adjust our thoughts over time.”
  • “Be kind, always; everyone is going through something you know nothing about.”
  • “Always do your best and set yourself high standards.”
  • “Don’t be afraid to take risks.”
  • “Be ready for the unexpected.”
  • “You can do this.”
  • “Be different!”
  • “School comes first.”
  • “Never stop learning. Always listen to a new idea.”
  • “Hire people you can trust.”
  • “Work hard, laugh hard, make money.”
  • “Become an optometrist instead of an optician.”
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40. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

The Big Survey 2021: You, The ECP

Statesmen

U.S. presidents and founding fathers topped the list, with Benjamin Franklin at the head of the pack. Many ECPs related to his interest in eyewear: “Because he dispensed multifocals daily,” explained one.

Religious Figures

The second most common group was made up of religious leaders, in particular those who saw the error of their ways or suffered for what they believed in.

  • Jesus — “I strive to be more like Him.”
  • Moses. — “It took him 40 years to find the only place in the Middle East that didn’t have oil. Took about that many years to learn how to make a fine living as an ECP.”

Pioneers

This group included those who sought to expand healthcare, such as Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, as well as:

  • Josephine Baker, Henry Ford and Anne Sullivan – “I want to help my low vision and multi-impaired patients function at their highest level.”

Inventors & Scientists

At the top of this group were the usual heavyweights, led by Albert Einstein, whom one respondent credited with being “The first man to invent light” and Madame Curie (“Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.”)

Those Who Fought Against Injustice or For Freedom

A not insignificant number named figures such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr and Boudicca (“Freedom is important to me, too.”)

  • Among the others: Mahatma Gandhi — “Fought against the British and we are fighting against insurance companies.”
  • Madame CJ Walker — “A visionary African American entrepreneur. I am an African American woman trying to excel in an industry that does not always welcome me.”

Modern

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was named by a handful of ECPs, who expressed admiration for her commitment to her principles.Another was John Lennon (“Sensitive, caring, and didn’t care what others thought”.)

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Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at [email protected].

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