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Dr. Melissa McCulley
Optometrist, owner- private practice and optical
Where did you receive your education?
Southern College of Optometry - O.D., 2001
Boston College - B.S. in Spanish and pre-med studies, 1997
How has your optometric education played a role in your life today?
It has given me the opportunity to have my own business. I never knew that I would be a small business owner, but having this professional career has given me the opportunity to do so and learn so much. There is a big difference between being a clinician and owning a practice. I am constantly seeking out new learning opportunities, whether it is from within the profession or an outside source (chamber of commerce events, business owners' groups.) Treating patients is what I'm passionate about, but adding the optical side to my business gives a fun, fashion-oriented side to my day-to-day role that is really rewarding.
What was your greatest educational challenge and how did you overcome it?
My undergraduate degree was not in science, so I was concerned that I would be "behind" in the course load compared to my classmates. But fortunately, through the tutoring program or just the willingness of instructors to hold office hours, I was able to keep up with the course load. Plus, my roommate took really good notes and let me read them!
What is the value of your optometric education?
My optometric education has given me a career that allows me to take care of people. It is a truly rewarding job. Be it counseling parents on the health of their children's eyes, working to find the perfect keratoconus gas permeable lens fit, or giving a bit of hope to a patient with macular degeneration, my education has put me in a position to treat and comfort the concerns of my patients. Having people put their trust in me to know that I am going to do what is right for them is a gift.
What would you say to someone who's undecided about pursuing a career in optometry?
I think the heart of what we do is taking care of people, not just their eyes. There are many different levels and settings in which one can practice, but having compassion for doing what's best for our patients is essential. The four years of optometry school can really show you the wide range of practice settings and specialties of care that an optometrist can practice. I never thought that pediatric eyecare would be my top interest, but now it is! Another great aspect of optometry is that a doctor can make their work schedule fit their lifestyle. Anywhere from working for someone part-time to owning and managing a practice- a nice wide range to choose from after graduation!
What made you realize the importance of education in your life?
Being in a profession that is constantly changing, staying on top of new technology and treatment options is crucial. The more educated I am, the better I can care for my patients. Also, many of the continuing education courses are interesting and practical to everyday practice and office management.
What keeps you going?
Being able to come home at the end of the night and feel that I have made a difference in someone's life by providing them with great care!