Home Where We Practice Independent Ebony Eagles: A Study Group to Help Black Doctors Soar

Ebony Eagles: A Study Group to Help Black Doctors Soar

For the past 16 years, twice each year, the Ebony Eagles travel to the office of one of its members for a few days of networking and strategy-sharing. The Ebony Eagles is a study group of Black, successful private practice owners, says Paula R. Newsome, OD, MS, FAAO, FAARM, CHC, of Advantage Vision Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was the original convener, organizer and host.

the ebony eagles at one of their meetings
The Ebony Eagles at one of their meetings around 2020. Photos courtesy of Dr. Newsome, seated front row, left.

“We travel to each other’s offices to share insights and see different practices in action. Our last meeting had 23 attendees, and we gather twice a year, usually with 10 to 20 participants. Initially, there were more men than women, but now it’s evenly balanced,” she says.

“Initially, we wanted doctors who had some level of experience so that we could all benefit from each other’s journeys.  We have since opened up to individuals who are newer and are learning that with the right individuals, we can learn from all experience levels as long as the doctor shares,” she says. For instance, one newer OD showed the group the importance of branding the practice. “Everything from her mousepads to her clipboards was branded. I came back from that meeting and did the same thing,” Dr. Newsome says.

It’s important, too, that younger ODs have a sense of the history that veteran Ebony Eagles have. Dr. Newsome, for example, was the first Black woman to own an optometry practice in North Carolina in 1984. The bank forced her parents to co-sign a loan for her. She’s the first Black woman OD who earned her fellowship in the American Academy of Optometry.


The Ebony eagles in chicago - around 2016
A meeting of the Ebony Eagles, around 2106, in Chicago

Topics range from traditional operational business strategies to getting loans and estate planning, “We also stay updated on new trends, technologies, and cutting-edge techniques, ensuring we offer the best to those who rely on us. Even though the younger doctors may want work-life balance, our mission remains the same—to serve our communities with passion and excellence,” Dr. Newsome says.

The group met this spring in Philadelphia, and its next meeting will be near Washington, D.C. When it’s possible to combine their regular agenda with a visit to a nearby optometry school and any chapter of the National Optometric Student Association or private practice clubs, the members do so. “We want to let students, and especially students of color, know that we exist. Unfortunately, many do not,” she adds.

As is true of many student groups, the members also encourage each other. They share their passion for serving all patients with dignity and their enthusiasm for private practice. “I always leave these meetings with a notebook full of new ideas. The goal is to have something new to implement when we return to our own offices on Monday,” she says.

If you think Ebony Eagles may be a good fit for you and your practice, you can email Dr. Newsome at drprnewsome@gmail.com.

Read other stories about how ODs promote themselves through professional skills developments.


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