Kerri-Ann Coombs Hodge, RN, OD, has told her inspiring story to colleagues and even patients. Now she’s telling it to children in a beautifully illustrated and heartfelt story about a young girl growing up on an island, who dreams of what her life could be is essentially Dr. Hodge’s autobiographical tale, and she hopes that she is able to encourage young people the way others encouraged her. “I wanted to inspire children and people to live and to dream–and provide some education about the eyes,” she says.
It’s a great reception area book, she says, not only because of the storytelling and the lovely illustrations, but the ending has a section on common questions about eye care and eye health.
INSPIRED BY HER OWN STORY
Dr. Hodge and her family moved from Jamaica when she was young. By the time they came to the U.S., her father had already lost much of his eyesight. She pursued a healthcare career from the start, first becoming a registered nurse and then earning her optometry degree. As a student at the University of Houston College of Optometry clinic, one of the patients she saw was her own father.
Twelve years ago, Dr. Hodge started with her first Target Optical sublease. It went so well, she made a pitch to management to give her another sublease. She has since added two more. “Three is enough for now,” she says.
In a way, having multiple subleases is a little like having children. “The first is the hardest,” she says, laughing. “Then next is a little easier. And each location has its own personality, just like children. The environment and the demographics are a little different. But if you feed one, you feed all. When you buy for one, you buy for all. It’s family, and our goal is to help everyone succeed.
“We have a great team, and we have built an environment where we cultivate people and help them grow. That’s part of our vision statement,” she says. Just as the team members support each other, they work together to create the highest level of patient satisfaction.
Dr. Hodge did not come to this all-in-the-family support concept immediately. “At first I was a bit overwhelmed by the details of everything needed to be done as the leader, but then I started to view it differently. These were no longer tasks, but I had a mindset shift in which I really wanted to find out how people felt. Rather than thinking of all the tasks that had to be completed while the patient is in the room, I listen to how the patient is feeling.” That information guides the discussion that follows.
There’s a moment in A Girl With a Big Vision where the character is told by an older family member that she cannot possibly become a doctor. “I had a friend tell me that when she read the book, that scene made her tear up,” Dr. Hodge says. That surprised her; it’s an emotional book to her, but she was delighted to hear it touches other people as well. She continues the journey of supporting the personal growth and improvement of her team.
For example, every Tuesday, she and the entire staff have a motivational call. “Each person is a leader. As doctors, we are the leaders, but we definitely can encourage that leadership role in each individual.”
Reaching for new goals and the highest standards is how people grow, she says. “If I hold back on something because it’s small or limited, I am limiting myself. Do the best with what you have,” she says.
That’s a philosophy that spurred her professional growth – and now she can share it with readers of her book.
Little Girl With a Big Vision is available through Amazon.