Written by Angela Hao (3rd year), Nuri Kim (3rd year), and Maria Choi (2nd year)
Our Mentorship Experience with Dr. Michael Kreuzer (“Glasses Half Full”, Edmonton)
In mid October 2020, we had the privilege of meeting virtually with Dr. Michael Kreuzer, owner and optometrist at “Glasses Half Full” in Edmonton, Alberta. What followed was an eye-opening (pun intended) discussion about the intricacies of opening your own practice immediately after graduation, financial factors to consider, as well as advice on clerkship rotations and specialty training.
Opening Your Own Practice
Dr. Kreuzer was one of the few, if not the only, graduate of the Class of 2017 who opened his own practice immediately after graduation. Our conversation about the logistics involved revealed the significance of one’s mindset. Interestingly, Dr. Kreuzer likened starting your own practice to buying a house. You can expect to be paying off the expenses of opening your own practice for about 10 years, but thinking of it as a long-term investment like a house mortgage can save you a lot of pain and headaches. Furthermore, Dr. Kreuzer imparted great advice on considering the demographics of the area that you will likely be serving. For example, Edmonton has a substantial young population, reflected by the fact that Dr. Kreuzer mostly sees patients in their twenties to forties. Thus, Dr. Kreuzer used this to inform the type of equipment to invest in for his clinic and to predict the type of tests that he would be performing most often. As the saying goes, ‘knowing your audience’ is half the battle.
Financial Factors to Consider
Dr. Kreuzer offered insights into organizations with whom optometrists can collaborate for various purposes, including EyeRecommend and other organizations. He also gave great advice on communicating with business consultants, as well as getting a financial advisor to help with insurance matters and an accountant to help with matters such as tax returns.
Moreover, Dr. Kreuzer recognized the limited breadth of the business side of optometry in the current curriculum, and encouraged us to seek out opportunities to educate ourselves more on business and financial-related factors.
Clerkship rotations form the entirety of fourth year, which imposes pressure on the selection process. Dr. Kreuzer offered us incredibly helpful insights into criteria to consider when selecting clerkship rotations. He emphasized the importance of finding optometrists who are willing to be role models and mentors. This involves being willing to teach you and to let you have the opportunity to practice in patient care. In addition, Dr. Kreuzer pointed out that clerkship rotations are a great way to take note of other optometrists’ ways of performing procedures and to formulate your own workflow based on what works for you.
We learned about the opportunities that residency and specialty training can open doors to, including teaching. We also discussed logistics to consider, such as which schools in the United States accept Canadian visas and criteria for choosing the clinic(s) at which you would complete your specialty training.
While we appreciated this look into the future, we eventually brought the conversation back to our current reality of being second year and third year students during a pandemic. It is with no small amount of gratitude to say that we appreciated Dr. Kreuzer’s reassurance that our clinical workflow would become more efficient over time, even with the limited practice time afforded to us during the COVID-19 pandemic. His compassion for our situation and his optimistic outlook showed that he truly embodies the sentiment of his clinic name. During these trying times, perhaps we would all benefit from thinking of the glass as half-full. We tip our hats to you, Dr.
Kreuzer, for a fantastic mentorship experience.
THANK YOU NOTE
Angela - Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us! As I go through third year, I’m definitely thinking about the options available to me after I graduate and it’s eye-opening to hear from someone who took the very bold option of opening up a practice straight out of school.
Your advice on clerkship sites was very helpful as well, as I am currently in the process of choosing my sites. This opportunity to speak to ODs is so valuable for students and it’s great that you were able to participate virtually this year.
Nuri - Thank you very much Dr. Kreuzer for your time to speak with us and for the tour of your clinic. Your clinic looked so modern, spacious, and amazing! I really appreciate the opportunity to hear your experience about opening up your practice soon after graduating. Coming from Toronto, your advice on staying in Ontario for the clerkship rotations to learn about the billing process helped me greatly, as it is something that I have never considered before when choosing my site. Thank you very much for making our mentorship experience very helpful and enjoyable!
Maria - I would like to say a huge thank you for taking the time to speak with us. It was truly a pleasure to meet you and to discuss your experience of opening your own practice immediately after graduation. Hearing your unique experience was both enlightening and inspiring. As an Edmontonian, I especially liked hearing your reflections on what it is like to work in Alberta and to serve the Edmonton population. Your advice on clerkship rotations, financial factors, and specialty training were immensely informative, and I am sure that I will carry this with me from second year onwards, throughout the rest of my education and career. Thank you so much for an exceptional mentorship experience!