When graduating optometry school, retiring from practice seems a lifetime away. In a perfect world, it is.
But when you factor in today’s daunting economic dynamics (student loans, practice acquisition debt, keen competition and diminishing patient loyalty), a graduate’s spanking new career plans may be amended by a more sobering reality.
In a very real sense, a beginning optometrist should plan from the start to be a successfully retired optometrist one day. This requires a total career strategy, one that likely will have many twists, turns and adjustments along the way. But it begins by envisioning an optometric career in three stages:
Stage 1: Starting Up
Starting up is the initial stage of beginning practice, assessing various settings, beginning to pay off student loans and planning to take on more debt with the acquisition of a pratice or a partial buy-in, as well as instrumentation and other practice assets.
Stage 2: Building Wealth
Building wealth is the second phase of a career, once practice acquisition or partnership has been obtained. In this middle stage, an optometrist looks to build wealth by growing a practice, possibly buying one or more other practices and/or the real estate associated with them and taking on associates and growing staff. This stage often involves a change in identity, as a practice owner fully realizes the role of practice CEO.
Stage 3: Transitioning Out
Transitioning out is the stage in which one plans an eventual exit from practice and there are many different scenarios. The key words are “transition” and “plan.” In this phase, an optometrist can change from being a full-time practice CEO to working part time, in an advisory position or not at all. The worst scenario to simply to close one’s doors and try and sell assets, due to poor planing or a premature or unexpected death or incapacitation.