Dual Careers Cater to Both Interests

A musician turns optometrist, still enjoys both passions

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This story originally appeared in our November 2011 issue.

At least once a month, Staff Sergeant Joy Stone, OD, trades a phoropter for a French horn. Her colleagues at Drs. Foster, Steele, and Stone Family Optometry in Newport, Tenn., happily accommodate her switch in instrumentation.

Dr. Stone and her husband, a middle and high school band director, both report for duty one weekend per month and for two weeks during the summer as traditional Guardsmen and members of the Air National Guard Band of the Smoky Mountains. Dr. Stone, a music education major, met her husband while they were members of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Pride of the Southland Marching Band. She also played for the school’s wind ensemble, horn ensemble as well as symphony and studio orchestras.

The military band, which they joined in 1999, plays at military and public functions around the seven Southeast states that it covers. “We perform at patriotic functions and venues to support the military,” Dr. Stone says. Dr. Stone also sings in the band, while her husband is a trombonist. When she’s not playing, she completes administrative and public relations duties to fulfill her Guard duties.

So how did a woman who grew up singing and playing music with her siblings take a turn to a science career? Dr. Stone pinpoints a day in 2002 that intrigued her. At a band competition on a windy field, a friend who was wearing contact lenses got debris in her eye. Emergency room staff discovered a massive corneal scar, which eventually required a corneal transplant. “The process fascinated me with how much you could do with the eye,” Dr. Stone says. “I got to thinking about optometry as a career even though I was already out of school and working.”

She completed all her science prerequisites in seven semesters (since music majors are only required to complete basic science courses) and enrolled in the Southern College of Optometry. She graduated in 2010 and joined her current practice just a few months later. The practice was a perfect fit for her. “I came to visit on a day where they were running a little bit behind, but you couldn’t tell by the atmosphere in the reception area,” she says. “Everyone was happy, smiling and friendly, and I could tell it was a great place to work.”

The practice’s doctors were excited to welcome Dr. Stone and her military experience, and she’s glad to have found a balance to her two careers. Teaching music prepared her in many ways for providing patient education.