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May 21, 2014

SUNY Alumnus Helping Others Navigate Successful Careers

Dr. Matthew Geller founded OptometryStudents.com as a first year OD student at the SUNY College of Optometry in 2009. Five years later, the 2013 graduate has launched NewGradOptometry.com as a way to assist new doctors as they work to succeed in the ever-dynamic health care environment. Both websites have been highly lauded by the ophthalmic community for providing information and resources that are often unavailable elsewhere.

We asked Dr. Geller, who also currently practices at a private clinic in San Diego, a few questions about his two unique endeavors:

When you began OptometryStudents.com as a SUNY Optometry OD student, you said that that you wanted to create a “positive voice for students in the profession.” Are you now looking to continue this same tradition for newly minted doctors at NewGradOptometry.com (NGO)?

Moving the profession forward will always be the number one goal for any project that I take on. If you don’t have an altruistic, positive and genuine motive behind what you do then you won’t succeed. Optometry comes first at the end of the day and every decision we make gets passed through the filter of “is this bringing value to new graduates?” and “is this helping optometry?”

With OptometryStudents.com the goal was the help optometry students understand the profession they were getting involved in. With NewGradOptometry.com the goal is to give new graduates everything they need to succeed in the real world of optometry. With the proper tools and direction from other new graduates, we are capable of being the next leaders in the profession.

What was your motivation for launching NGO?

We wanted to make life easier for new graduates so that they can be successful, both professionally and personally.

Can you talk about the reception that you received from the optometric community for OptometryStudents.com and how NGO is being received today?

I have formed so many friends in the community thanks to OptometryStudents.com. The community loved this project and we got nearly every industry player involved in some way or another. Everyone got to benefit from OptometryStudents.com. It was truly an altruistic project.

The perception of NGO is exactly the same. Everyone is excited to get new graduates up to speed on the “real world” of optometry. Industry players and the community are eager to utilize NGO to deliver a message that might have taken triple the amount of time previously.

Your team at NGO includes SUNY alumni Dr. Quy Nguyen and Dr. Antonio Chirumbolo. How did your overall experience at SUNY help inform how you view the profession today and the information that you provide at NGO?

Quy and Antonio are great friends and great doctors. They are going to be big names in the future! SUNY was amazing, the best optometry school I could have attended. At SUNY it’s all about the community and the relationships and SUNY taught me how valuable this was. With NGO we are keeping that same “community” vibe alive. SUNY taught me great things. Nine times out of 10 I wondered why I was learning something in the moment but now it all makes sense. They really have valuable knowledge to deliver from an awesome staff.

As a doctor working in private practice, what are some of the challenges that you’ve faced and how are you trying to use your experience to help those who follow you as new doctors?

The biggest challenges are…

  • Getting credentialed on insurance panels
  • Understanding insurance (vision and medical)
  • Getting your schedule busy
  • Prescribing with confidence
  • Being confident but respecting your superiors and staff
  • Getting involved without running yourself too thin

These are all lessons we write about at NGO…and our fans get to learn right alongside us!

What is your overall impression of the optometric profession today and how do you think young ODs coming into optometry today will change it in the future?

Optometry is awesome! I love the profession and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I would advise only those students who have a TRUE PASSION for optometry to join our family. Those who are doing it to just “punch the clock and get a paycheck” are not going to enjoy this profession. Optometry needs motivated individuals like Ryan Corte and Courtney Dryer—two more members of our NGO team—who will take optometry to new heights.

The profession will change BIG TIME. Look at it now – vertical integration of corporations, health care reform, online eye exams, online dispensaries and board certification – these are all things we must embrace and change alongside. Do not fight this stuff; it will not get us anywhere. We need to learn how to be the authority leaders and the go-to doctors. We need to innovate and grow and partner with these ideas.

People always say “optometry is changing” but its not just optometry, it’s the entire global and social order that is changing. These changes are happening thanks to the internet, which allows companies and political organizations to streamline their workflow and their interactions with employees and customers. Every company is cashing in on this and utilizing it to the fullest extent. Consumers now expect a streamlined and easy-to-use interface for all of life’s interactions and if an industry can’t adapt to that, they will fail. Optometry is the tip of the iceberg but underneath it is the real drive for social, economic and political change. Optometry is just along for the ride! You can’t stop the entire iceberg called “life” from changing. You need to jump on board that iceberg and build your own motor and steering wheel so that you can navigate it where you want it to go. Would you stand in front of a million-ton iceberg? I sure wouldn’t…

If you need to find me, I will be in a down jacket and gloves on top of the iceberg! Come join me, it’s a wonderful view!


Visit OptometryStudents.com and NewGradOptometry.com to find out more