July 2017
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SOLutioN Conference Brings Optometry Student Leaders to Texas

Optometry School Private Practice Clubs Meet to Discuss Future Opportunities

SOLutioN Conference Brings Optometry Student Leaders to Texas

Forty-four optometry students and recent graduates converged in Dallas, Texas to discuss the future of private practice during the 7th annual Student Private Practice Leadership Conference June 8-10.

Put on by SOLutioN—the Private Practice Student Optometric Leadership Network—and sponsored by several industry partners, the conference brought together the incoming and outgoing presidents of private practice clubs from optometry schools all over the country. Together, they gained insight into students’ options after graduation, and networked with fellow students—and future doctors—aiming to shape the future of optometry.

“The relationships that I have built in SOLutioN are ones for life,” said Ece Turhal, a fourth-year UC Berkeley School of Optometry student and outgoing president of the school’s private practice club. “We get to exchange ideas and learn from one another. I’ve been able to take away better networking skills, how I can run my business in the future, how I would deal with my staff, and what other opportunities are out there. It’s been an eye-opening experience.”

The conference included several guest speakers from all walks of the eye care industry—from doctors who have opened their own private practices or taken other professional paths, to partners offering advice on how best to break into the industry as a young doctor after graduation.

“At this stage of a student’s optometric career, I think what’s important is to give students some tips about being in the real world,” said Dr. Thuy-Lan Nguyen, who presented on Networking to Build a Practice. “They are all very smart and highly educated, but not a whole lot of them have had a lot of real world and business training, so simple resume tips, tips on how to negotiate an interview, they love that. Once they graduate, they will be on their own and may not have the resources that they have in school.”

Dr. Sloan Rajadhyksha, the newly elected SOLutioN president, said that board members putting the conference together each year hope to enrich students’ knowledge in business management, and provide them leadership skills to share with their clubs.

“It would be an understatement to say this organization didn’t change my life as an optometry student,” said Dr. Rajadhyksha. “It has introduced me not only to some of the best doctors, but it has helped me build an amazing network with students from across the country.”

For many, the conference was just as much about learning from their peers as from speakers.

“This is something that directly affects my life after school,” said Christopher McCollum, a third-year student and incoming practice club president from Inter American University of Puerto Rico, School of Optometry. “I’ve been able to see how things are done at so many other schools, and all of the availability and opportunities that we have during and after school.”

SOLutioN as an organization, and as a conference, was created to bring together leaders of optometry schools to discuss private practice opportunities, and it has grown every year since its inception.

“I am so passionate about this organization,” said Dr. Kristin O’Brien, former SOLutioN executive director. “The reason we founded SOLutioN is because we, as presidents, were reinventing the wheel every single year at our schools. At the time, there were only 14 optometry schools that had private practice clubs (there are 21 now), and we realized that every school needed one. (We wanted to) train the leaders of the clubs to do a better job passing the torch, so that every student at every optometry school could get the education in private practice that they need.”

Dr. Nguyen said the conference also represented an opportunity that current doctors wish they had when they were students.

“My impression of SOLutioN has been fantastic,” she added. “I thought it was just a really good opportunity for students to meet each other, but to also meet doctors and people from the industry that would help them in the future. They’ll be graduating soon, and they have a lot to look forward to. We are here to encourage them and let them know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

For more information on SOLutioN, click here.

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