UW Mentorship : Dr. Ryan Bohnert

By: Sydney Kaumanns (2nd year)and Jenny Zhang (2nd year)

We met Dr. Bohnert at his clinic, Byron Optometry, where he promptly gave us a tour of the newly renovated space. He renovated the clinic after purchasing the practice three years ago. They made many improvements to the layout and spacing of the offices, along with the addition of innovative diagnostic equipment. Dr. Bohnert showed us his edging lab, where he explained the cost efficiency and convenience of edging lenses within his clinic, opposed to outsourcing to a larger lens manufacturer. He then gave us insight on how his practice had transitioned from paper files to electronic medical records, and other changes he made to improve the efficiency between the dispensing and administrative staff and the several optometrists that practice within his clinic. Dr. Bohnert spoke very highly of his staff, and their patience during this transition, stressing the importance of surrounding yourself with positive and hardworking people.

To our surprise, becoming an optometrist was not always Dr. Bohnert’s dream. He completed a biophysics degree and aspired to become a teacher. He taught high school students for one year, before discovering the possibility of pursuing optometry. Through this, Dr. Bohnert stressed the importance of finding a fulfilling career and that it is okay to pursue a new path.

Dr. Bohnert is an alumnus of the University of Waterloo School of Optometry. We had many questions about the transition from being a Waterloo student to becoming a practicing optometrist to becoming a partner and co-owning a private practice. Upon graduating, Dr. Bohnert worked as an associate at several clinics in London concurrently, before becoming the clinic director at TLC London. He was then approached with an opportunity to buy into a practice with associate, Dr. Patil. Dr. Bohnert emphasized the importance of waiting for the right buying opportunity, primarily a practice that will be successful with a partner that is complementary.

At dinner, we talked with Dr. Bohnert about a variety of topics, varying from the business aspect of optometry, OHIP funded eye exams to continuing education. As both of us are in second year, there are still a lot of things to learn, especially regarding practice management. While we heard mention of companies like Eye Recommend, we still didn’t fully understand how they can help our future practices become successful. Dr. Bohnert, a member of Eye Recommend, explained the many resources that business groups have to offer. Dr. Bohnert also spoke about his own business approaches, such as, supporting smaller frame businesses and gaining a wealth of information from attending conferences. While Dr. Bohnert was very positive about the future of the field, he didn’t shy away from our concerns about OHIP funded eye exams and providing the same standard of care to all patients. But his optimism did give us hope that change is possible in the future.

It was a very informative and enjoyable night, giving us a lot to discuss on the late ride home. We are grateful that we were paired up with an incredible mentor from our home city of London, as it made the experience far more relatable. We look forward to keeping in contact with Dr. Bohnert and we would like to thank him for sharing his valuable experiences and clinical advice with us.