Where indeed? When I was set freeI mean, when I graduatedfrom PCO, I had no clue where the best place to practice might be. They didnt teach that in Philadelphia. Instead, my experiences in that big city, so unlike my little hometown, taught me where the WORST place was for a hick like me to practice: Philadelphia.
So, I was studying for boards, and I had no idea where I would end up. Then I saw a small listing in the back of Review of Optometry: Practice in Paradise. Modern optometric office for sale. Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
I just knew this was for me. I had no strings attached. No love life. No responsibilities other than to pass the state boards. This was my one chance to practice optometry the way it was meant to be practiced...in shorts. Perhaps Jamaica was the best place to practice optometry. No insurance. Everybody pays what they can. And, due to certain local herbal preparations, very little glaucoma!
Then I met a girl named Renee. After 23 years together, Im still angry about that.
OK, no Jamaica, mon. I was staying home in West Virginia.
Now at that time in optometrys history, West Virginia most likely was the best place to practice optometry. West Virginia O.D.s were already practicing full-scope medical eye care with the first optometric drug law in the country.
Everybody wanted a license to practice in my lovely little state.
I dont know if it is true, but the word on the street at that time was that Florida approached West Virginia with an interesting offer: true reciprocity. Now, not only would West Virginia be the best place to practice because of its revolutionary drug law, but we would have beaches! My dream of a practice in the tropics was nearly a reality! Yet, the alleged offer was, I understand, summarily refused, lest all the Florida O.D.s move immediately to West Virginia, doubling the states population in one wild weekend.
But was Florida actually the best place to practice optometry? The winters would be nice, I guess, but maybe there was someplace in between that wouldnt be so dern hot and humid all summer. Someplace where the people were still friendly Southerners instead of transplanted New Yorkers.
I know North Carolina. Statistics show that every other person in North Carolina has moved there from West Virginia. If you ever visit that great state, you will run into a bucketload of West Virginia expatriates manning all manner of fast-food drive-thru windows or performing GI surgeries. And now in West Virginia its tough to order a burger and tough to have a bowel resection. So, wouldnt North Carolina be the best place to practice optometry?
I dont know. TVs Willard Scott never seemed to introduce any 100-year-olds from North Carolina. They were all from Minnesota. Now, I had the opportunity to make a little speech up there a few years ago, and they are some of the happiest O.D.s I ever did see. But Minnesota is pretty cold, and it rained every day I was there. Very un-Jamaican.
Where to practice? One of the things I hate is when somebody chases me all over a restaurant or someplace asking me for free eye advice. They wont quit. They have some strange and unusual symptom, and they want me to diagnose and treat them over my pork chops and asparagus.
Considering this, Ive come to realize one thing we can all agree upon. They very best place to practice optometry is one place and one place only: in your office.