At a very young age, Carla Iafigliola, OD, learned that taking decisive action is a smart move forward, even if it isn’t easy. She learned the lesson first from her father, a surgeon. When she was just a toddler, she suddenly and dramatically
developed strabismus. Her father was concerned that she might have developed a brain tumor or had suffered some trauma and immediately brought her to the right doctors, including optometrists. “A thick Rx later, years of patching and constant visual attention set my path toward optometry,” she says. “I didn’t realize it then, but from the time that I was very young, I knew I wanted to help
make a difference in people’s lives, the way that optometrists had made a difference in mine.”
Just last year, Dr. Iafigliola was hit by another devastating loss—the death of her husband. Finding herself unexpectedly being the sole parent of their two sons, dealing with their grief as well as her own, Dr. Iafigliola says she was so grateful that her relatively new employer, MyEyeDr., stood with her. Not only did her colleagues support her through the difficult time, but the company also offered her a bridge to a new career model.
Dr. Iafigliola’s 21-year career has spanned quite a few practice settings. She completed her residency and has worked in private practice, corporate-affiliated practice and academic settings before landing with a Grayslake, Illinois, practice that was acquired by MyEyeDr. in February 2016. The initial transition from a privately owned practice to a MyEyeDr. location was easy, she says. “I stayed in the location, so I was able to keep my patients and the integrity of patient care intact. Most of the patients didn’t even know until the sign went up some months after the transition that there was any change,” she adds.
Internally, she noted only added value. “I noticed that there was a bigger team to support us. It was nice to sense that camaraderie and interest in moving forward that can be difficult for a smaller practice to focus on,” she says.
“But the biggest support of all was the company’s steadfast help after the traumatic experience of losing my husband,” she says. When she returned to work, she was stunned by the support of patients and the community who responded to her. “It was such a testament of friendship and patient loyalty built over the years,” she says. “I enjoyed coming back to work. It felt like I was returning to a community of friends. Patients appreciate what their eye care providers do and want to reciprocate that.”
Earlier this year, Dr. Iafigliola met for lunch with the vice president of professional services at MyEyeDr., who told her about a leadership role opening in the Chicago area. “I was barely keeping my head above water, and I told him I’d like to help, but I didn’t know what that would look like. He said, ‘I’m here to help bridge the transition.’” The opportunity for personal growth was attractive. While she continues to see patients three days a week, the role she has taken on is to mentor other doctors in the 33 MyEyeDr. locations in the area to help them make the patient experience all that it can be. “Patients aren’t just people we see for 20 or 30 minutes; we’re here to guide them,” she says.
She’s still new to the role, but she plans on visiting each of the locations to introduce herself and let staff know how she can assist. “I’ll also work with new ODs to the company, with onboarding, training and helping them know the culture.”
Dr. Iafigliola says her experience has shown that practices gain more than they risk. “Each office has a personality, and MyEyeDr. isn’t trying to change that.” What they gain, she says, is a level of support—one that she has benefitted from professionally and personally.