Rosalyn Coleman, OD, found herself in a variety of practice settings in the five years since her 2010 graduation from Southern College of Optometry (SCO), and each experience took her a step closer to starting her own practice. While that wasn’t her original intention coming out school—she thought she might teach at an optometry school—Dr. Coleman ultimately came home to Atlanta to open Envision Therapy, her vision therapy office.
There is great responsibility with owning a practice, particularly one in a niche market, but “I felt the need to do it,” Dr. Coleman says. “Every day is scary, but I’m really glad that I branched out and took a risk. It’s so much more satisfying and fun, and I like to have control of the decisions.”
Dr. Coleman visited several locations that were for rent before finding the office she picked, which offered the first 14 months
rent-free. “It’s been a great way to start my business, especially with me not providing primary care,” she says. “I can focus on building my business and team, and I don’t have the pressure of worrying about how I am going to pay the rent.” The space was also nearly ready to move into. The walls she needed were in place, a feature she says that she was happy to find since many other offices she considered were empty shells. Dr. Coleman repainted, added floor coverings and assembled furniture herself to keep costs down.
With a focus on vision therapy, Dr. Coleman only needed specialty equipment, so she was able to open her doors in early 2015 without making a tremendous investment in traditional optometry instrumentation. “I wanted a wow piece,” Dr. Coleman says, so she added a Sanet Vision integrator that includes a giant touchscreen to be used for activities and tests. She also regularly uses her balance boards and beams, perspectograms, electronic chart and evaluation prisms and lenses. Despite a brief setback one month in, when the office was broken into and electronics were stolen, Dr. Coleman has been able to provide thorough, quality care with a limited instrumentation budget. Dr. Coleman’s insurance covered most of the losses from the burglary.
Dr. Coleman, who is a region III Trustee for the National Optometric Association, balances her time throughout the week as she continues to build envision Therapy. She works two days a week with children and adults and also keeps a position at a Target Optical located about 45 minutes away. She’s developing referral contracts with local practitioners, pediatricians and occupational therapists, who often have the best understanding of the vision problems and their relation to learning and reading.
Dr. Coleman is getting her name out in the community, participating in local events and holding speaking engagements at the office to create awareness. “A lot of people don’t know about the connection between vision and learning,” Dr. Coleman says, and she educates individuals on how improving their vision can enhance and benefit their quality of life, as well.
Dr. Coleman never knew that there was a problem with her double vision until she was in a lesson on the subject while studying at SCO. While she says that her vision never interfered with her grades in school, she had trouble reading and driving until she had vision therapy. The experience changed her life, and she says that she looks forward to continuing to help others in her community. “Vision therapy became my passion,” Dr. Coleman says. “There’s something new and different every day.”
Despite the hard work, Dr. Coleman says that the flexibility of being her own boss is already paying off. She can schedule her last appointment for 1:30 and then leave to spend time with her 4-year-old daughter.