Cherie Archambeault, OD, knew she wanted to provide care for others in some way, but she wasn’t sure which medical route to take. She spent some time shadowing optometrists in various settings, including corporate-affiliated and private practice, as well as in full-time and part-time positions; she quickly realized the options were more overwhelming than expected.
Even before graduating from Indiana University School of Optometry in 2003, she knew that she would want a job that provided her flexibility in scheduling. In one office where she had shadowed an OD, she was discouraged by the grueling schedule and the inefficiencies created by their long hours. She was looking ahead, knowing that there might be times in her life when she’d want to work less and times when she could work more.
A second shadowing experience with an optometrist practicing next to a Walmart Vision Center helped her see that flexibility was achievable and she wouldn’t have to sacrifice anything to find it. That idea has held true at her independent practice in the space next to a Walmart Vision Center in Jefferson City, Tennessee, as an independent optometrist. Dr. Archambeault operated her practice as her own boss, just the way she likes it.
PLENTY OF PERKS
“I have complete control over the hours I work and how I practice,” Dr. Archambeault says. She currently chooses to work four full days a week and take Wednesdays off to spend time with her new husband, which has given them an opportunity to work on building a house together. Based on her contracted opt-tech/admin hours, she also gets helps with staffing, leaving her feeling confident that there will always be someone to answer the phone to assist her patients.
Her contract with Walmart provides her with one technician and guaranteed help if a staff member calls out sick. She and the Walmart Vision Center associates get along great, she says, and they are all dedicated to providing patients and customers with the best possible experience.
Dr. A, as her patients and staff call her, says this schedule encourages her to work smarter, not harder, when she’s working. In her years as an associate OD in different independent practices, she saw the financial burden that some practice owners have had to take on with maintenance, inventory and staffing an entire practice.
That was a commitment she wasn’t willing to take on, so the independent practice next to a Walmart Vision Center could be a great option for new graduates “with a mountain of student loan debt. I walked into my practice next to Walmart on day one ready to start seeing patients that day,” she says. “I can focus strictly on services and patient care.”
DON’T SETTLE – FIND WHAT FITS YOU
Dr. Archambeault says it’s important to find the practice setting that works best for you, no matter what that looks like. “Look at all your options and find what fits for you at that point in your life—even if that changes as time goes on,” she says. Since she opened her own practice next to Walmart Vision Center in February 2007, she has been able to make the adjustments in her own schedule to find her best balance and keep her services accessible.
“Everything I do with the practice is what’s right for me and my patients, and that’s the way it should always be,” she says. “Then everything else will fall into place.”
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