Why an MBA from Yale?
In order to functionally lead or make an impact in business, you have to understand business. You have to understand operations, funding, and the structure of different companies. I don’t know that well enough to make use of that knowledge and to make decisions. I can identify trends, but how does that impact health care, the business of health care, and the business of insurance? So, to move forward with being able to make a larger impact, I need much greater understanding. Yale is close to New York City. Because it is an executive MBA, it allows me to stay at the hospital full time. It is important to me to be able to stay in my current job to innovate while here. Health care is such a fluctuating and growing behemoth that being at work while learning is integral.
What would you advise a young OD who wants to follow your path?
My path is evolving. If their path is to work in a hospital and in ocular disease, I would say keep your interests in doing a residency. I became a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry the year I finished residency, which was helpful for networking, so I recommend becoming a Fellow. If it’s business-oriented things or healthcare on the whole, an MBA and other graduate programs will get you in that arena.
What’s your guilty pleasure food?
What I feel guilty about is that I don’t ever feel guilty about eating something. My mom taught us that whatever you feel like eating is probably what your body needs. I eat very healthy in moderation, most things. Maybe as I get older and my metabolism slows down, I’ll have a different view and start feeling more remorseful. [Laughs]
Related Q&A: Jeffrey J. Walline, OD, PhD
What’s something about optometry you’d like to change?
Can I say tuition costs? [Laughs] I had such a great experience at Ohio State. They integrated us with pharmacy and held mixers with other schools—it is important for professional schools to network with other healthcare providers. Maybe more interaction with more healthcare specialties while in school to build those foundational relationships. For example, we work closely with ENT here. We have patients who complain of eye pain in the area of the eye that ends up being a sinus problem. So, more interaction with the whole-body specialties would be helpful.
Do you have any regrets?
Like being 13 and not making the basketball team because I had no hand-eye coordination? [Laughs] Never doing a sport or being part of a dance team or anything. It is character building, and if you enjoy that in childhood you’re more apt to do that later as an adult. I never really did that, which explain why I don’t do it now. Athletics is something I would have changed. [Laughs]
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Accepting this job. I was in a fantastic ocular disease residency. Near the end of the residency, I spoke with our glaucoma specialist about job interviews, and he said “Let me make a few calls.” He called to say, “I have a job for you, this is where you will go for your interview and tell them you want the job.” I had no good options, so I came to the hospital and the office was not built. I was given a hardhat, and they walked me through this area with only beams and plywood. I said yes without seeing a practice and with meeting a only few of the doctors. I’m a risk-adverse person, but it was the first time I took a leap of faith and it worked out. Still here, my first and only job!