What do you get when you combine an Engineer and an Optometrist?
Keep reading to find out how Dr. Gerry Day manages to combine his
education as an engineer and his passion for eye care.
Gerry Day owns three practices in the Sarnia – Lambton region of south western Ontario.
Dr. Gerry Day
Optometrist, Professional Engineer
Doctor of Optometry, University of Waterloo, 1996
Chemical Engineering, University of Waterloo, 1991
How did you get into the eye care business?
I actually started my career as an engineer working for the oil company, Suncor. I had the good fortune to have several different positions that gave me a great business background for later operating my optometry practice. First, I worked in the oil refinery dealing with complexities of day to day operation of making gasoline and other petroleum products. Next, I spent time in time in Industrial Marketing. That gave me a background in product market strategies and competitive pricing. After that I was moved to manager of company operations, where I got experience overseeing and developing my reporting managers and their many gas station employees. My final role at Suncor, was as a business analyst which gave me experience in competitive analysis, budgeting and strategic planning. It looked like my career was set, tackle an MBA and pursue more senior management positions on the horizon. That’s when I decided to take a step back and to reflect on my career and what I wanted to achieve when it was all done. Did I want to pursue the corporate ladder or did I want to pursue my lingering interest in optometry that had started way back in high school. Should I go back to school, open my own practice and spend my career helping people see better? I decided to write the optometry admissions test, did well enough to apply and the rest is history.
What have you done to set our practice apart?
The single biggest thing we have achieved to differentiate the way we practice is Super Techs. Several years ago, we assessed the patient journey through our practice and found there was many inefficiencies and too many hand offs between staff, doctors and patient. A typical visit included Checkin at reception then to pretest, on to optical tech and scribe, then to optician and then finally to check out. Too many missed communications over billing, eyewear needs, future appointments were occurring. So we implemented our super technician program. In our system, a patient checks in and then is greeted by a super tech. The super tech performs testing, scribing, education and dispensing, staying with the same patient for their whole journey through the office until their final stop with admin at check out. Super techs were trained and tested in pretesting, pre-examination, scribing for doctor, patient education and lifestyle dispensing skills. It was challenging work but my staff rose to the occasion and now find it very rewarding. Our patients now have a much more efficient and connected eyecare journey, staff are empowered in eye care delivery and my time with patient is much more efficient and it allows for better quality doctor patient interaction.
What is your definition of success?
I see the definition of Success being different for each individual optometrist. Success for an optometrist is achieving the perfect mix of Clinical Optometry, Business Management and Lifestyle, that provides good income and time to enjoy quality of life. My current mix is three days of patient care, two days of administration, including work for Eye Recommend board of director’s and time off for family and personal pursuits. I currently take 6-7 weeks of vacation to follow aspirations of travel and outdoor recreation. That’s success for me. Another interesting combination I recently heard was of an optometrist who was a scuba instructor in Belize. He arranged his optometry practice to enable him to take several months away from his practice each year to be a dive instructor…perfect balance for him.
What is your favorite past time or hobby?
Mountain biking has been my favorite past time for 20 years. I love being out in the woods and exploring the trails. We travel each year to different mountain biking destinations across Canada and the United States. My other passions are family boating and travel. Our next journey is Greece in 2018 and hopefully Australia/ New Zealand in 2020.
My perfect work day is enjoying the growth and development of my staff. I love to see their passion for eyecare, super rewarding. There are many perfect leisure days to be had. The world if a fascinating place, anywhere from your back deck to travel destinations. The end to my perfect day is sitting on the beach with my family and our dog. Talking, skipping stones and enjoying the sunset.
What is the best possible future invention?
Anything that would enable better eye care for those who don’t have access to care, especially 3rd world countries. For example, an easy to use hand help laser for performing peripheral iridotomies. Many of the world’s people are hyperopic and that brings with it, narrow angles. While on a mission in Zanzibar, I saw an 18 yr old patient that was blind due to angle closure glaucoma. That was sad to see and never forgotten. Preventable blindness, no care available on the whole island. A portable laser would enable field teams to assess, treat and prevent blindness.
Outside of eye care, a cure for cancer.