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Growing as an OD While Giving Back

kami nguyen
Dr. Kami Nguyen

Before Kami Nguyen, OD, graduated from Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry in 2019, she spent more than a decade working in a private ophthalmic practice answering the phones and observing what it took to run a practice. She saw how the owner “never stopped,” she says, often busy with tedious paperwork or taking work home.
With that in mind as she began to think about what she’d do when she graduated, a message from National Vision Doctor of Optometry network recruiters caught her interest. “I knew I wanted a mentor after I graduated,” Dr. Nguyen says. “Not everything is taught in a textbook—I knew I’d need help.”


Dr. Nguyen started with Eyecare Centers of Texas, P.C. as a full-time float doctor in the Dallas, Texas area practicing at offices alongside America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses retail stores where she provides comprehensive eye exams. She was able to walk in on day one and start seeing patients with the confidence of having a team to support her. “I am able to work with the America’s Best mission of giving eye care to the people who need access the most,” she says. The office also features an Oculus vision field analyzer, a fundus camera, autorefractors and an autolensmeter. Having equipment that “talks to each other” by sharing and saving patient information saves Dr. Nguyen and staff time.

“I love how the office is set up. As a doctor, I don’t have to deal with scheduling, payroll, hiring or insurance, and I still have a life after work.” She also has a sense of independence, she says, without going it alone. She meets virtually and in-person a few times per month with her practice’s Area Doctor Mallory Whalen, OD (read Dr. Whalen’s recent story with WO here), and speaks with the National Vision district manager David Goodwin often.

The National Vision brand


Soon after Dr. Nguyen started with Eyecare Centers of Texas, she says she was encouraged to expand her career. She often spent time working with her store manager to “ensure efficient clinical flow.” Those learning experiences—plus support from her team—pushed her to apply for a full-time position at a new office her practice was opening just a few minutes from her home. She now sees patients full-time at the office inside the America’s Best in Flower Mound and says the doctor-patient relationships make her job enjoyable.

“My favorite part of the job is having the autonomy to provide care to patients to the best of my abilities and at my own comfort level,” Dr. Nguyen says. She recalls a particular patient encounter that stands out. “I had a 9-year-old girl come in with a really thick lens on one side of her frames, making one eye look noticeably smaller than the other. I worked with the mom to change the eyeglass material and balance her prescription, as the daughter was dealing with bullying at school. They came back a few days after picking up her lenses and each gave me a hug and thanked me for making her school experience better.”

Dr. Nguyen also feels good about the National Vision Cares program, which aims to provide 30,000 free eye exams and eyeglasses each year. The company also partners with RestoringVision and Americares to provide half a million pairs of reading glasses to ultra-low-income Americans. “I’ve been able to treat patients who don’t have insurance or have never received eye care before,” she says. “Seeing my patients go from struggling to excelling in their profession and improving their daily lives keeps me inspired.”

As her colleagues motivated her to expand her reach within the network, she says new grads should do the same. “The National Vision Doctor of Optometry network is a great place to start without having to worry about debt or overhead,” she says. “We as eye doctors save vision and change lives every day. My practice has helped me continue to do that.”


Read more stories from National Vision and WO here.

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