What is your advice for someone working their way to become an Optician?
Like teaching this is a field where the successful members are driven by a desire to help people. If you have a passion for improving others’ lives, then it’s a perfect place for you and the industry will be richer with you in it.
Why should anyone get certified/licensed?
I worked in the business for almost 30 years before getting my license. It creates a level of commitment to excellence, and it also can help you earn a better salary. Above all else, it can give you new insights into solutions for patients’ needs.
In your experience, what is the best way to prepare for an Opticianry test?
Book learning can be great, but for myself, I found the best preparation came from having an instructor to help me understand some of the mathematical basics.
What do you remember as being a prominent part of the test or that you were surprised to see on the test?
I wasn’t surprised, but having your Prentice’s Rule down is key. Also knowing your ANSI standards.
How do you decide if an additional credential should be earned?
Given my many years in the business, and my desire to change the way others think about opticianry, I am working towards my ABOM. I think additional credentials should be pursued if you wish to improve your ability to help patients and expand the ways you can help your practice.
What was the point when you decided to attain your license/certification?
Ironically enough, for me, it was after I had been working in the field for 30 years and taken the step to create my patient education blog. I realized that despite my years of experience some other opticians didn’t take my opinion seriously without the certification. I knew I could help improve the industry by having those initials after my name.
What do you feel is your strongest skill as an Optician?
Hearing what the patient says to me and translating that into a solution. Whether it be lens and frame selection, or troubleshooting issues with their glasses.
What role have you held that best helped you to be the Optician you are today?
When I was forced to take on the role of primary Lab Manager and “Troubleshooter” for a prominent Beverly Hills practice, I was forced to think beyond what I already knew. I had to learn to apply logic and intuit solutions to experiences.
What is your advice to someone who lacks sales skills or confidence?
Whether or not you have confidence in your abilities, you can’t let the patient see that. Simple tactics, like addressing their current glasses issues, or even finding a way to connect to the patient on a personal level (taking note of similar interests or hobbies) can do a world of wonders in building your confidence. Don’t give up if a solution doesn’t work. Keep trying things until the patient is happy. This will help you find what works.
If you are no longer an Optician in the traditional sense on a daily basis, how did your Optician skills help you with what you’re doing now?
I still work with patients and edge lenses on a daily basis. So I’m still deeply mired in this world. Probably will be until the day I die.
To have the greatest success in this field, you should approach it as a profession…a calling. If you think of it only as a job or a paycheck, you will be doing a disservice to yourself and to the patients you help. Find the passion in it. Think beyond the prescription into the lifestyle of the patient to fix all of their needs. Treat every patient in front of you as though they were family.
Responses in this interview provided by Ric Peralta, BS, ABOC