From Ambivalent to Ambassador

Doctor joins National Vision network and sees more opportunities than she realized

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Bella Sudit, OD, saw that there was an opening for an optometrist in her hometown of Parsippany, New Jersey. The idea of coming back home after completing the rigorous accelerated three-year optometry program at Salus University Pennsylvania College of Optometry sounded great. “I graduated in June 2018, and I was on an externship in California when a recruiter called me. We discussed what it’s like to practice at an office inside of an America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses location, and he set up a site visit to a location near where I was,” she says.

She hadn’t really considered a career in corporate optometry before that, but the visit helped her make the decision. “The optometrist seemed really happy. She showed me her schedule and let me observe,” she says. By August, Dr. Sudit was working for an independent practice, Regional Vision Consultants, LLC, in the Parsippany America’s Best location that had opened a few months earlier.

She returned to a bit of fanfare. “My parents told everyone they knew to come in and see me,” she says. “It’s a little funny and a little awkward to see people who have known me since I was little. But it’s been very sweet. People are proud of me. They’re not entirely surprised, however. “In high school, I knew I wanted to go into the medical field, and I was considering optometry or ophthalmology.”

Her own experience as a myopic child set the path for her. “I know what it feels like when you put on a pair of eyeglasses and your world changes,” she says. Shadowing an OD when she was younger helped steer her to this path. “It seemed like optometry had the best lifestyle of all the opportunities,” she says.


Starting in a brand new location means that there’s some time to acclimate as the schedule is a little slower at first. “It’s picking up now,” she says. “Word gets around that we have great deals and advanced technology to make the prescription more accurate.” She was pleasantly surprised to find that America’s Best also trained technicians to work with the optometrist. “I was not used to working with a technician, so having a well-trained person to help is great.”

Optometrists new to the National Vision network go through a three-day onboarding process. On the first day, another doctor explains the processes and introduces the new OD to the way that the practice and location functions. “On the first day, I primarily shadowed the doctor and did a few exams. The second day, I did more exams and got feedback from the experienced OD. It’s a little nerve-wracking for new graduates because it’s the first time we’re really doing this all on our own. Even though I was nervous, it was helpful,” she says. By the third day, the doctor is mainly there to answer questions.

Like many ODs who have not explored the options in corporate optometry, Dr. Sudit anticipated that the days would go a certain way. “I had a mental image of myself seeing 40 patients all by myself without a lunch break,” she says. “My experience is nothing like that.”

Indeed, she is seeing more medical conditions than she thought she would. “There’s a rumor that all we do is refractions, but I see a lot of medical cases. Many of the patients who come here might not have gone to any other provider,” she says. She’s referred patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy, suspicious nevi, retinal tears, pseudotumor cerebri and cataracts to appropriate specialists. A local neurologist has referred patients to her before he does the neurology workup to ensure that there aren’t undetected vision problems. “I see a lot of patients who tell me that they haven’t been to an eye doctor or even any doctor for years,” she says. “I feel like I’m growing as an OD and experiencing a lot.”

Now she serves as an ambassador for her practice and the National Vision network, traveling to events to talk with students. “I encourage students and young ODs to be open-minded. Many of us have heard talk about ‘how corporate optometry is,’ but that may not be the case. My advice is to talk to people who are in those practices. I love that I can focus on patient care. It’s such a stress relief not to have to worry about the administrative burdens at this point in my career,” she says. With the additional leadership opportunities that her practice offers and the freedom she has to deliver the quality patient care she’s been trained to give, she sees her opportunities with the practice continuing to grow.