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Brittany Martin, class of 2023, was one of 10 optometry students from across the country invited to participate in the VSP Vision™ Premier Program annual meeting, SHiFT22 held in Scottsdale, AZ, in October.

The students spent time with VSP network private practice doctors, staff, and industry partners which offered an incredible opportunity to connect, learn and grow. VSP shared that Martin received an invitation because she won a 2022 Dr. Marvin R. Poston Leadership Award and has demonstrated that she is a stand-out optometry student through the UABSO Private Practice Club president role. Her presence at SHiFT was important and VSP applauds her commitment to the optometric profession, and desire to grow professionally and personally.

At the conference, Martin was on the Emerging ODs Panel. She was one of two optometry students from across the nation invited to be on the panel, which also included two young optometrists. In her own words, Martin shared how the experience will impact her well into the future.

 Please describe what the panel was about? And who were the other panelists?

The title of the panel was Emerging ODs. Two undergraduates and two new grads sat on a panel to discuss some of the misconceptions private practice owners may have about new graduates. In addition, we were able to give them a snapshot of what the future of optometry would look like regarding expanded scope, expectations of salary and benefits, and challenges new grads face during the time of COVID-19 and inflation.

What were your takeaways from the discussion?

New graduates are seeking a healthy work-life balance. Mental health is a priority for most young optometrists today. We have observed over the past years that working hard and excessively long hours isn't healthy. We prefer to create easy and accessible ways to be more efficient in the workspace to produce the same patient care outcomes as our peers.

How will the information gained be useful as you begin your career?

This information will be used to guild me with building healthy doctor-staff relationships. In addition, I will consider these perspectives when hiring an associate doctor and staff for my future private practice. This will not only allow me to meet the needs of my patients, but also create a work environment that allows individuals to feel seen, heard, and appreciated. 

What are your career goals and how will this discussion help you achieve them?

I plan to begin my career in an OD/MD setting to gain more clinical exposure to ocular diseases. I would like to see patients in rural areas and travel if possible. Years later, I plan to open my own private practice in a southern state. Furthermore, I would like to work in the industry with major contact lens brands. This discussion is helpful because it gives me the courage to push past my fears and build a brand of my own. I understand that success requires consistency. If I want to build a thriving and successful practice, I must utilize the resources I have now and constantly work towards my goal.