Lauren Grillot, OD, MS, FAAO, of Sidney, Ohio, believes that employers who try to “protect” mothers from the hassles of ownership generally do so with the doctor’s best interest at heart. However, employers should not assume that by withholding a partnership offer they are making a female optometrist with young children’s world better. Many female optometrists are the primary income source for their family, as is the case for Dr. Grillot and her husband and four children ages 8, 6, 3 and 1.
With her current employer, she has asked for a timeline for her advancement. Like many recent graduates, she carried student loan debt coming out of school. Associates who come with the financial means to buy in may be moved ahead of someone who doesn’t, so she felt that it was very important to establish a timeline so that she could plan financially. She feels that communication on both sides of the negotiation is pivotal.
While she was open with employers during the hiring process that she had children, she also notes that women should identify for themselves what is necessary for their family situation when negotiating. “You do not need to necessarily volunteer all of your plans, but trying to understand how your plan fits into the practices plan is key. Also, knowing one’s value to the practice is important. At one point early in a pregnancy, I negotiated for more sick leave. I felt I deserved greater compensation for the areas I had stepped up in. I had taken on managing our vision therapy services and managing employees. I was delegating and leading as an associate. For me, being able to take two more days of sick time without the guilt of taking off and losing the day’s worth of income for the practice was more important to me and my family than a raise.”