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OD Shifts From Educating Students to Encouraging Peers

photo of Dr. Anita Gulmiri who made the career shift into industry
Dr. Gulmiri

A big career move is always a little intimidating – but when it takes a young doctor out of a traditional Faculty role and into an industry position that seems unfamiliar, it can be an adjustment. However, it’s one that Anita Gulmiri, OD, FAAO, FSLS, made quite easily. Dr. Gulmiri is now a Senior Medical Ambassador in New England, part of the Medical Affairs team with Tarsus Pharmaceuticals. “I serve as the liaison that helps disseminate  studies, establish relationships with key thought leaders and other researchers.  I also serve as the point of contact for information on potential therapeutic applications of upcoming and current products,” she says.

Dr. Gulmiri served as a faculty member at New England College of Optometry (NECO), where she was an Associate Professor of Clinical Optometry and ran the Cornea/Contact Lens Residency Program. She had completed her own residency there in cornea and contact lenses. “I had a thriving career at NECO and was working with industry partners as a speaker and thought leader. That sparked my interest in industry, but I wasn’t looking actively for a career change,” she says.

She sees similarities in her transition to this industry role. “As residency director, I saw many of my residents as the rising stars. I knew they would be powerhouses with growth potential, and I wanted to foster that relationship to help them get there. Today, I view my relationship with doctors in the same way. How do I help these rising stars tap into the right opportunities to become resources for industry and ultimately our patients? These are people who are doing amazing things in their practices,” she says.

I believe it’s important for industry to identify new talent, especially as the demographics of the optometric industry change. The traditional model of influence does not necessarily hold true anymore, she says. It’s not essential to become the lead panelist at major industry events. “There are so many spheres of influence – local, regional and national or focused on practice, science or research. And there are wonderful, talented optometrists who can fill these roles,” she says. As a woman OD, she also wants to support other women ODs who are drawn to this line.

GREAT TIMING

Dr. Gulmiri moved into this role just as XDEMVY® received its U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval as the first and only approved treatment of Demodex blepharitis, an eyelid disease impacting millions in the U.S. “The excitement was literally palpable, and the company made each of us feel like we had a major role to play,” she says.

While Dr. Gulmiri could not have planned this timing, she notes that the industry is highly dynamic, and it is important to stay aware of developments. She thought she was in good shape from her time as a thought leader for various companies, “but there is a whole new knowledge base when you make a shift from contact lenses to pharmaceuticals, for example. There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not learning new things,” she says.

START SPEAKING UP

A good way to stand out amongst your peers is to actively start working with industry, through speaker programs. “Sharing clinical cases can provide perspective and a lot of education that others can learn from. Additionally, you can leverage social media to highlight your clinical innovations and interesting cases. Take the time to write case reports which will elevate your presence among program committees. Give back what you are learning and doing in your practice, and you can find a space to have a voice,” she says.

While she misses working with students, she believes her new role also has its foundations in education. “I enjoy the peer-to-peer interaction,” she says. She also says that she loves being in a company where the OD voice is sought after for guidance. “I appreciated that I was moving into a role where I would work with like-minded eye care providers. I’m happy to be in a position where I’m interacting with colleagues in a relatable way, as someone who knows what their day-to-day life is like,” she says.

Read other stories about ODs who have moved into industry roles here and here.

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