Allyson Fisher, OD, recalls that it was during a Christmas holiday while working as a cancer research scientist, after completing a master’s in forensic toxicology, when she felt she wanted more from her career than laboratory research. “I went for an annual eye exam while visiting family for the holidays, and it suddenly hit me: why didn’t I go to optometry school?”
In a space of two months, she took her optometry admission test and secured an interview at Indiana University School of Optometry. After graduation, she took on an employed position with an optometric company. Shortly after, a doctor who had an independent practice inside a Walmart location in Shreveport, Louisiana, asked Dr. Fisher to cover for her while she was on maternity leave. That plan soon turned permanent, as the doctor, a military spouse, moved when her husband was reassigned.
Dr. Fisher’s career ultimately led her back to Indiana three years ago. With family nearby, she decided that home truly is where the
heart lies. After experiencing other sublease opportunities, Dr. Fisher opened her own independent practice, NuVision EyeCare, LLC, inside a Sam’s Club, and about a year and a half later she added another practice location in a Walmart. “I work six days a week, alternating between the two locations,” she says. “I love the freedom and the flexibility to practice the way I want with the schedule I want.”
Confident in the choice
She says that her conversations with the Walmart Market Leader and the Vision Center manager made her feel confident in her choice. “Both shared my philosophy about making sure that patients get the best care and have the best experience. The Market Manager wasn’t looking simply to get a doctor to sign a contract; she wanted the right doctor for that location. The Vision Center manager was working hard to put together a great team,” she says.
Dr. Fisher now has the flexibility she wants to continue with her volunteer efforts with her church, community and the National Optometric Association. Since 2012, she has accompanied the Archdiocese of New Orleans to an annual, week-long medical mission in Granada, Nicaragua, at a permanent clinic established by the Optometry Association of Louisiana. For years, she also participated with OneSight International domestic-based mission efforts and with National Optometric Association’s free, mobile vision community eye health exams coinciding with the annual convention.
The dream schedule
“My dream is to work six months on and have six months off to pursue volunteerism,” she says. “My patients know that I do mission trips, and I feel like it’s important that they see who I am.” She has even left her overseas trips a little early so that she can fly to the U.S. overnight on Friday and come to work straight from the airport on a Saturday morning. That way, her patients don’t have to wait too long for her return.
For now, she’s content to work hard and long hours. But she’s keeping her eyes open for another OD who might be interested in and willing to work a demanding schedule for six months a year. In fact, she may even be leading others to that idea. During this past Christmas break, a patient who is finishing up her undergrad degree told Dr. Fisher that she just wasn’t sure what she should do after graduation. Dr. Fisher told her about the many benefits of a career in optometry and encouraged her to apply.
In a sense of déjà vu, the student went home and began making her plans to go to optometry school. The student is shadowing Dr. Fisher as her schedule permits and also carries a busy schedule with school, church and volunteer opportunities. She will even accompany Dr. Fisher on the annual mission trip to Nicaragua this spring. “I use each moment that I can to give back,” says Dr. Fisher. “Service is what is most important to me, and this includes uplifting our youth. A few months ago, this young lady had no clue what path she wanted to take, but now she is more than excited about her future. That was my story, too.”