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Connections Pave the Way

With the help of her colleagues, OD successfully finds a job and negotiates a partnership

This story was originally published in our September 2011 issue. For the latest information on Dr. Maursetter and Isthmus Eye Care, visit isthmuseye.com.

Callie Maursetter, OD, learned in optometry school that the best job openings and opportunities can’t be found online or in a newspaper. Instead, she began to apply a combination of what and whom she knew. She landed a position at Isthmus Eye Care in Madison, Wis., and after about a year of managing the smaller of the two practice locations, she entered into partnership negotiations. She became a partner earlier this year. She’s thankful for the help along the way.

Dr. Maursetter attended a practice management seminar during her third year at the Illinois College of Optometry. One of the presenters was an OD who practiced near her hometown in Wisconsin, and she introduced herself after the presentation. The next year, she flew home to attend the Wisconsin Optometric Association’s annual meeting, where that OD introduced her to several others. “I began establishing relationships, and one of those doctors had an opening,” Dr. Maursetter says.

In the November following her graduation, Dr. Maursetter became an associate doctor, filling the spot of a partner who had left the
practice. “The intent was that I would work as an associate for the first year to try out the practice and see if it was a good fit for both sides,” she says of her year working with Vic Connors, OD, and Scott Jens, OD, FAAO. It turned out to be a great match, not just for Dr. Maursetter, but also for associate Colin Connors, OD—a classmate and an existing partner’s son—both of whom were offered partnerships around the same time.

The partners at Isthmus Eye Care, which came into creation from a merger of three practices, used their experience negotiating partnerships as a template to generate salary and employment terms and more. Dr. Maursetter did four key things to make sure that the partnership was fair.

Hire a consultant and accountant. “I wanted to look through the numbers for assurance, and I wanted to compare the offer to the norm for the profession,” she says. Dr. Maursetter also was curious about the norms for her region, information easily accessible by the professionals she hired.

Avail yourself of free resources. Dr. Maursetter found excellent advice and guidance from the mba-ce.com web site, the online home of the CIBA VISION® and Essilor Management & Business Academy™. “I used the key metrics as a gauge to know what other practices are doing,” she says.

Utilize connections. After her clinical rotations, Dr. Maursetter remained in contact with one of her supervisors. “He gave me insight on how the doctors in his office set up their partnership,” she says. “Having connections with colleagues in the
profession helps create a good foundation.”

Be open and honest. The existing partners had a lot to offer Dr. Maursetter, as well. “They are both experienced in private practice and in optometry, and I had a lot of questions. They were accessible and walked through the process with me, which made it a lot easier.”

The negotiations for partnership took four months, a bit longer than Dr. Maursetter expected, but the process still ran smoothly.
“There’s a lot more to it than I expected,” she says. “It was an open conversation with the partners and accountants, which made it
easier for everyone to express their thoughts and opinions and derive attainable numbers.”

Dr. Maursetter says that the partnership works out nicely, now that the four partners share three full-time equivalent positions. In addition to the small office she’s in, Dr. Maursetter also occasionally fills in at the practice’s other location, which is about 20 miles away. “We can cover for each other for conferences and vacations and keep the office open more often than we would be able to do otherwise,” she says.

Dr. Maursetter advises patience. “One thing I found was that openings at private practices weren’t listed,” she says. “I felt frustrated that there was nothing out there.” Thanks to speaking up and forming connections, Dr. Maursetter achieved her five-year goal of private practice ownership in just a few months. “Though one OD might not be hiring, he or she may know someone who is,” Dr. Maursetter says.

Dr. Maursetter is focused on managing her office and hopes to see it grow to match the size of the other location. She’s working
closely with the practice’s marketing team to reach that goal.

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