Some Time Away Helps Doctor Re-envision Her Future

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For Jessica Dinwiddie, OD, practice ownership was always an option on the table, just not one that she felt quite ready to take on immediately after her 2011 graduation from the Southern College of Optometry (SCO). Her husband—who’s got entrepreneur blood running through his veins, she says—encouraged her to do it from the start. “But I wanted to become more comfortable being a doctor,” so first she moved back to her hometown of Cabot, Arkansas, and was an employed OD in an office as the solo doctor. The owner had multiple offices across the state. “I was running the day-to-day by myself, playing with the idea of owning the practice without paying the bills,” she says.

Location, location, location

A few years and moves later, Dr. Dinwiddie made the leap to opening a practice. Her real estate broker husband helped navigate the process of finding a location. She wanted to be close to the three larger cities in the area—Rogers, Bentonville and Fayetteville—all of which are about 15 to 20 minutes from each other. They found the office space for Exclusive Eye in a new construction strip mall in a very busy area, near the interstate and accessible to all areas of northwest Arkansas with lots of entertainment attractions and dining nearby. “The goal and vision was a destination clinic where people would not only come to see me as the eye doctor but also for what we carry in the optical,” she says.

An exclusive experience

Dr. Dinwiddie was so dedicated to that concept that she tucked the front desk behind the main wall of the space, creating an inviting, retail setting with a clinical focus on the back half of the office. She wanted it to be welcoming to passersby, who could stop in just to browse or even bring in their existing prescription. The focus in the optical is a display of unique and independent frame lines that patients and customers won’t find at other offices nearby. Many of the lines she carries also support a charitable action, such as donating a pair of eyewear to a person in need with each purchase.

Dr. Dinwiddie worked as a technician before attending SCO to be sure the field was a good fit for her, and it was in that role where she saw that it could be challenging to make eyewear selection fun with a clinical approach. These experiences, along with her love of fashion, led her to design her office space in such a distinct way.


Business-smart

Now business is booming in her high-tech office where she practices full-scope care. Another smart business move was Dr. Dinwiddie’s decision to join Vision Source® when she opened her practice. “Vision Source is a great resource for cold-start practices and offered many discounts and programs to help me get my practice up and running,” she says. “I was able to get deals with vendors that greatly helped in reducing costs as a young practice.” She says that she also finds the staff training resources to be very valuable. “It is a great option for staff members to build their clinical and optical knowledge.”

Dr. Dinwiddie has a long wish list of goals and ideas for the practice as it becomes more established in the community. Through her Vision Source membership, she knows that there will be programs and services available to help her reach new benchmarks. “You have the ability to pick and choose which options are the best fit for your practice.” A top priority now is growing while staying true to her vision of spending quality time with patients. She’s working out of one exam room now with another available to grow into, and she’s looking at hiring another staff member soon. “I don’t ever want to get caught up with 20 exams in a day,” she says. “I enjoy being able to have time to talk to my patients. We want to be financially successful, but I don’t want to lose focus on patient care while being obsessed with growth.”