A Thank-You Note to Optometry

November is one of my favorite months. The holiday season is starting to ramp up, the weather is changing and gives us a reason to stay inside and watch movies, and it is a month that always reminds me to set aside time to be thankful. While I try and remember to count my blessings each month, November is always a great time to take a breath, think about the year that has almost past, and reflect. While I try to remind my kids to name one or two things they are grateful for each day, November is a month that we really aim to do this, especially before the craziness of the December holidays and the end of year.

While optometry is not without its challenges (especially the past few years!), there are still so many things to be grateful for. I hope you join me this month to pause, take a moment, and list a few things you are thankful for in practices, careers, and workplaces. Involving your staff can make this a fun, engaging exercise, and one that we can hopefully continue to do (even on the toughest days).

What am I most thankful for?

  1. Optometry and private practice have given me the utmost in flexibility in building a life that supports my family. I recently sold my private practice this year to spend more time with my children and have not regretted the decision to do so. Many careers do not afford that choice, so thank you to optometry for this gift of time.
  2. Optometry has given me the opportunity to continuously reinvent myself and try new things. If you had told me a decade ago I’d be a professional speaker, I would have thought, never in a million years! As someone who has always loved writing, being the Professional Editor of Independent Strong is a dream come true. In addition to continuing to write, I now get the honor and privilege of working with an incredible team to develop content to educate our private practice colleagues.
  3. Last month I wrote about community, and there is nothing like the eye care community! I am thankful for my colleagues that I text, message, email, and chat with every day. Even while working from home, I feel like I am around people all day, every day. I am grateful for all the new connections I have made on social media and LinkedIn, who I am now getting the opportunity to meet in person at conferences. I love surrounding myself with people who are passionate and excited, and you continue to raise me up and inspire me.
  4. I am thankful for what I expect from the future of optometry. While we are always changing, we are also evolving. In the 15 years since I have graduated, our hardworking colleagues continue to raise the bar for the care we provide our patients. You continue to educate the public about what we can do, lobby for these rights, and tirelessly fight for the expansion of our scope of care. I’m thankful for those who have come before us and look forward to continuing to drive our future.
  5. One of my favorite roles is interviewing potential student candidates for entrance to the New England College of Optometry, where I am a proud Adjunct Assistant Professor and alum. I am inspired by the students I speak to. Their energy and excitement about becoming optometrists is refreshing, and the passion they bring is welcome. I am thankful for each conversation I have with them, which reminds me again and again what a wonderful profession I have chosen.
  6. I am especially thankful for each and every one of you who has subscribed, read, contributed to, and shared Independent Strong. Independent eye care is such an important part of the optometric and optical communities, and I’m proud to be a voice. Thank you for your belief, passion, and support of independence. Private practice continues to prosper because of you.

As we head into November, I hope you will take a moment each day to think about what you are thankful for. In this wonderful field of independent eye care, there is much to be grateful for.

Yours in success,
Jennifer L. Stewart, OD

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