How to be successful as an optometrist in private equity

August 22, 2022

3 min read


Disclosure: Baik reports that he is a member of the Medical Board of EyeCare Partners.

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In recent years, more and more ophthalmic practices have become part of private equity groups, making more and more opticians familiar with this business model.

Rawzi Baik, OD

Rawzi Baik

Private equity groups offer the opportunity to become a shareholder of the organization by engaging in share purchases, but this is offset by relinquishing control of operations to the management group.

Over the past few years I have worked as an optometrist at various ophthalmology facilities including a LASIK group, an ophthalmology practice and a private equity office, all of which have contributed to my professional development. In private equity, I was encouraged to expand my practice by adding more instruments and learning the skills to practice optometry to the fullest. I have acquired new skills – both in and out of the exam pathways – by being part of a network of colleagues in a physician-led environment.

Just being licensed does not mean having the confidence or knowledge to practice. I started dealing with medical cases as I gained more knowledge. Most clinicians tend to learn from the literature and attend conferences for their continuing education. Personally, it was clear to me that professional growth could also be achieved by treating patients together with specialists.

When I was unsure how to treat patients, I chose to either refer them to another doctor within our network or refer them to another if appropriate. Over time, I learned that it was most beneficial to approach doctors who sent me timely copies of their records and were interested in my training and development. Viewing relationships as symbiotic ensures better patient care.

I am firmly convinced that our healthcare system will continue to develop. Physicians should be present to ensure that the voices of our patients and our voices are heard and taken into account. This means that we as doctors have to make an effort to actively participate in state and federal associations, but sometimes also have to go beyond that. We must move ourselves and our colleagues forward to ensure there is appropriate diversity and equity in leadership and that management respects our expertise so that we have adequate time and understanding to care for patients.

I’ve found this to be the case at my company as my colleagues hold managerial roles and are familiar with the day-to-day nuances of patient care. Our group is led by a diverse medical board composed of colleagues who are leaders in clinical quality, patient care and operations, recruitment, clinical trials, technology, research and advocacy.

One of the benefits of working in private equity is that physicians have the opportunity to acquire equity in the parent company. This allows them to become part-owners to a certain extent, which strengthens trust. I find this exciting because as my practice has grown and become more efficient, I know that my contributions have a direct impact on the value of our company. I would guess that this is similar to the feeling of owning a private practice.

The difference between private equity and other models has to do with the level of control over day-to-day operations. A private practice owner has control over all aspects of the practice in addition to the clinical practice of optometry. For me, practicing in a private equity group helps me focus on patient care at work, and when I leave work my personal time is not revolved around the details of my practice. The management group handles staffing, inventory and maintenance, among other things, and covers instrumentation overheads. I provide input when it comes to changing processes to streamline my practice.

Joining a private equity group has given me more professional confidence, which has enabled me to ask the right questions and be a better listener. As clinicians, we assume we must have all the answers, but the more I practice, the clearer it is that this is not always possible or helpful. Sometimes the best thing we can do is learn to ask the right questions and listen.

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Baik has been a practice at Clarkson Eyecare Kenwood in Cincinnati for the past 6 years. The views expressed in this article are those of Baik and do not represent his employer.

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