Alumni Focus on Bryan Heitmeyer (OD’04)
DR. HEITMEYER’S STORY
Hometown: Leipsic, Ohio
Which degree(s), related to optometry, did you earn at Ohio State?
BS'00 (Biology) and OD'04
Who were your mentors at the College of Optometry? Who had a positive effect on your education?
I had some fantastic clinic instructors during my time at Ohio State, and I think they shaped the way I practice and to this day still use “pearls” that I picked up from them while in various clinic rotations. I remember learning a lot at the Student Health Clinic with Dr. Jeff Schafer (OD’01, MS’03) and my time in the peds clinic with Dr. Jeff Walline (MS’98, PhD’02). I also had the good fortune to work for Dr. Yoongie Minn (OD’89) and Dr. Marie Schiff (OD’93) during optometry school. They had a very well run practice and I borrowed many of their practice management ideas/materials when I started my own practice.
DR. HEITMEYER’S CAREER IN OPTOMETRY
Name of your employer(s) and title, including location.
Clearvue Vision Center in Kent, Washington
Give us a glimpse of your typical day as an optometrist.
My practice is a busy four-doctor private practice with 29 employees. The days are generally action packed with a variety of patients from the diverse population we serve. The practice sees a range of ages, but we certainly have a larger geriatric population. I always am amazed and inspired by how well some of my patients have aged when they take care of themselves and exercise. As a result, I am up at 4:30 a.m. most mornings to walk my dogs and then head to the gym. My goal is to also age well and continue to be active as I get older.
Which optometric issues concern you the most?
I think innovation is always a great thing, but I am wary of new category disruptors that attempt to lower the standards of care patients get via the internet in the name of “convenience.”
Why did you choose a career in optometry?
I really loved science growing up and I had a great family optometrist (Dr. Brice Musser (BS’67, OD’69)). He gave me my first pair of glasses in the fifth grade. I also had a chance to shadow one of my father’s former high school students (Dr. Mark Bidlack (OD’87)) and thought this was a really cool profession.
Where do you hope to see your optometric career in five years?
I really enjoy where I am at now. My practice has continued to grow and I’m astounded how connected and loyal patients become to you after 16 years of care. I’ve enjoyed seeing families grow older and am touched when patients share how you’ve impacted their lives. If I’m still doing that in five years, then I will consider that success.
What is one piece of advice you can give OPT IV students as they prepare to graduate and begin their optometric careers?
Don’t be afraid to take a risk. It is easy to step outside your comfort zone when you are young and much harder to do as time passes. I moved to Seattle on a whim back in 2004 and it is one of the best things I’ve ever done.
DR. HEITMEYER’S OHIO STATE EXPERIENCE
What were your most memorable moments at Ohio State?
I have some pretty amazing classmates. Most of my fond memories are from gatherings at The Eye House, studying together, and taking road trips to AOSA/AOA meetings. I was also fortunate enough to take two SVOSH trips to Honduras and El Salvador. Those were immensely powerful trips that left a lasting impression on me and always remind me to be grateful even when times are tough.
What does Ohio State and the College of Optometry mean to you and your family?
I often think Ohio State Optometry could have picked anyone for the class of 2004. They took a chance on me and gave me the ability to work in an amazing profession. I’ve made lifelong friendships and my education has afforded me a great quality of life.
How do you stay connected with the College of Optometry?
I am fortunate to remain connected with many of my classmates from Ohio State Optometry, many whom still practice in Ohio or even now teach at the college. I try to coordinate continuing education meetings with friends and do my best to make it back for my class alumni weekends. One of the silver linings of a global pandemic is that many of my classmates have also had more time to reconnect over Zoom happy hours. I also have jumped on a couple virtual CE events hosted by the College of Optometry this year, too.
2020 is Optometry’s year! How are you making this year special?
I have a trekking trip planned this fall to Bhutan, but that will likely be shelved for another year. I think at this point the goal is to keep going despite the gauntlet of obstacles this year has presented!
What has the COVID-19 pandemic taught you about patient care?
I think optometry has faced many challenges over the years and yet the profession continues to thrive. This pandemic certainly has made us rethink how we deliver care to our patients. It also has reinforced how important access to quality care for patients is based on the huge demand many of us are seeing on the other side of the stay-at-home orders. I know we are not yet on the other side of this, but this too shall pass and we will be stronger after it’s over.
How do you imagine patient care will change in the future, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?
I think we are already seeing a push toward telehealth. While the technology needed to deliver care at our current standard isn’t yet available, I imagine it is only a matter of time before virtual care becomes more mainstream for our patients. I also hope the country is learning how poorly we’ve managed this pandemic and will implement measures to mitigate the impact future threats may pose.
DR. HEITMEYER’S FUN FACTS
Tell us about your first-ever eye exam.
I don’t remember the exact age, but it was definitely at the office of Dr. Brice Musser. Coming from a family of myopes I think my parents assumed I would also be near sighted like my sister. I remember being fascinated by all the technology and gadgets in the office. I was the outlier of the family and am a hyperope with astigmatism, which landed me with a pair of glasses in the fifth grade.
What are your current hobbies, volunteer work, interests?
I love world travel, scuba diving, I am a foodie, and enjoy fitness. I volunteer time in an eye clinic in Seattle for the homeless, I recently finished my term as a board member for Teen Feed, an organization serving the homeless youth of Seattle, and serve on the Optometric Physicians of Washington education committee.
What was the first concert that you attended / most recent?
I don’t remember what the first concert attended was, but the most recent was Dua Lipa.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
I think the power to find a cure for global pandemics would be rather nice at the moment!
What’s the best eye pun you’ve ever heard?
I am not sure about puns, but I saw a very clever cartoon with a dog getting an eye exam. The acuity chart was the back side of various breeds of dogs. The caption quoted the doggy optometrist saying “Your hind sight is 20/20.” It was a very “dad joke” worthy cartoon.
If not an optometrist, I would be ...