Alumni Focus on Andrew Emch (OD/MS’08) and Laura “LA” Emch (OD/MS’11)
THE STORY OF DRS. ANDREW AND LAURA EMCH (LOSSING)
Andrew (AE): Archbold, Ohio
Laura (LE): Granville, Ohio
Which degree(s), related to optometry, did you earn at Ohio State?
AE: OD/MS (2008)
LE: OD/MS (2011)
Who were your mentors at the College of Optometry? Who had a positive effect on your education?
AE: I am thankful to all the faculty at OSU for providing an excellent education. During my first year, Dr. Michael Earley (OD/MS’88, PhD’92)’s unique teaching style challenged me to learn more than I thought possible in Anatomy, Histology, and Ocular Anatomy. Dr. Nick Fogt (OD/MS’92, PhD’96) was spectacular at simplifying posterior segment so that it was clinically understandable. Dr. Jason Nichols (OD’99,MS’00,PhD’04) was instrumental in my contact lens education, and he also was the advisor for my master’s thesis on protein deposition on contact lenses. Drs. Richard Frick (OD’97) and Jamie Casper (OD’04) were tremendous educators on SVOSH service trips.
I also spent five years as a clinical assistant professor at OSU and worked with a number of talented colleagues who have all made me a better optometrist.
LE: I think OSU has some of the best faculty and staff, and I had a wonderful experience with my education. Dr. Melissa Bailey (OD/MS’01,PhD’04) was my faculty advisor for my master’s project and Dr. Don Mutti was always available to help with any optics emergencies. Clinically, Dr. Lisa Lex (OD’82) always kept clinic fun with her down-to-earth approach to problems, Dr. Richard Frick (OD’97) of the WRJ VAMC was an important mentor during my time at Ohio State on SVOSH trips and throughout my residency year.
CAREERS IN OPTOMETRY
Name of your employer(s) and title, including location.
AE: Archbold Eye Care – Owner/Optometrist
LE: Archbold Eye Care – Owner/Optometrist
Give us a glimpse of your typical day as an optometrist.
AE: I see a fairly typical cross section of small-town Ohio via direct patient care on a daily basis. From infants to 90-year-olds, I see about everybody; lots of specialty and standard contact lenses, dry eye, glaucoma and macular degeneration management. Private practice has its challenges, but I enjoy getting to know my patients and their families, and then seeing them grow every year.
LE: I work four days a week with Andrew at Archbold Eye Care; I see a full schedule of patients one day a week and any urgent care add on patient other days when available. I run the in-office finishing lab that we added last year and oversee all aspects of the clinic as we make changes to update and improve our services.
Which optometric issues concern you the most?
AE: As with any profession, optometry faces challenges as it continues to grow in the changing world of healthcare. To name a few - insurance companies dictating appropriate testing and fee schedules and pervasive control of vision insurance within ophthalmic industry. However, I genuinely believe that patients trust and value the wisdom of their optometrists and will continue to do so going forward.
LE: The continual commercialization of our profession, along with the amount of debt students have starting their careers.
Why did you choose a career in optometry?
AE: I liked medicine, math, physics, and interacting and engaging with people. Overall, the optometrists I shadowed seemed to be happier with their careers than other professionals.
LE: I like that optometry provides an opportunity to work with patients and solve problems, in a pleasant setting and have reasonable hours.
Where do you hope to see your optometric career in five years?
AE: I wish for continued growth of our practice in the direction of a more sustainable work/life balance as our daughter grows up. I also hope to be able to do more work outside of the practice and in the community.
LE: I hope we are still in Archbold providing quality care for our community.
What is one piece of advice you can give OPT IV students as they prepare to graduate and begin their optometric careers?
AE: You have been prepared by some of the best optometric educators in the country and challenged by your clinical rotations at home and abroad. There are many ways to practice optometry, and many ways to enrich the lives of patients, colleagues, and students. We are all going to be working for a long time, so however you choose to practice, enjoy what you do.
LE: Your optometric career can be whatever you want it to be, there are so many different ways to use your training, explore your options and have fun!
THE OHIO STATE EXPERIENCE
What were your most memorable moments at Ohio State?
AE: SVOSH patient interactions, EYE social events, intramural sports, breaking bad news to actor patients in the basement of the Prior Health Science Library.
While on faculty, traveling to Ethiopia with Dr. Karla Zadnik and Dr. Dean Van Nasdale to lecture at the University of Gondar.
Also meeting my wife.
LE: I have many wonderful memories from living in the EYE house with 10 other students, from tailgating to Big Gulp, SVOSH trips, ca-brewing, I made so many lifelong friends.
What does Ohio State and the College of Optometry mean to you and your family?
AE: I’m a fifth generation Buckeye, a second-generation OSU optometrist, and I met my wife at the College. So … OSU is pretty well interwoven into our life.
LE: OSU was a wonderful place to spend four years of my life and the place where I met Andrew.
How do you stay connected with the College of Optometry?
AE: Professional meetings are great for catching up with colleagues, alumni, and current faculty at OSU. Additionally OSU alumni reunion weekends in the fall provide a nice opportunity to stay in touch.
LE: I enjoy attending Academy meetings there are always a number of classmates to catch up with, we try to come back for a football game each fall and drop shipments of Lion’s Club glasses of at the College as needed.
What are your current hobbies, volunteer work, interests?
AE: Running, Tennis, Playing with our daughter Clara, spending time at the lake, RealEyes, and church activities.
LE: Outside of work I am a member of the Archbold Lion’s Club and serve on the Board of the Archbold Community Library. I enjoy traveling and being outdoors with my family.
What is your favorite winter-time activity?
AE: Skiing in Northern *ichigan
LE: I love skiing when weather permits. Living in Archbold gives us good access to Michigan for weekend ski trips.
If not an optometrist, I would be ...
AE: An engineer
LE: An accountant