Alumni Focus on Eric Ostrem (OD’94)




Joliet, Illinois 

Were you the first optometrist in your family?

Yes, but I did have an uncle in town who had been a long-time, successful optician. I respected him for his profession and as a business owner. 

Which degree(s), related to optometry, did you earn at Ohio State?

OD and MS 

Who were your mentors at the College of Optometry? Who had a positive effect on your education?

I truly respected and enjoyed all of my professors and clinical instructors while at the College. They were interesting, intelligent and we shared some humor many times as well. 

Post-graduation, I was fortunate to have many good mentors while serving in the military, plus, after active military duty, I learned much from colleagues like Dr. James Patterson, Dr. James Lehman and Dr. James Bieber. 


Name of your employer(s) and title, including location.

Residency, Keller Army Hospital, West Point, N.Y. 

Active Duty U.S. Army,  Chief of Optometry 

Northwest Eyecare Professionals, Associate,  Upper Arlington 

179th Airlift Wing, OHANG, Medical Group Commander 

Solo private practice since 2001, Upper Arlington 

Give us a glimpse of your typical day as an optometrist.

I am a solo practitioner, with my R.N. wife Debbie as the office manager.  We are personally involved in each patient interaction from the time they make an appointment, during their exam and through to final dispensing.  Our mantra from years of business ownership is, "It's all ours ... and it's all ours!" 

Tell us a special story that relates to your career now.

I had hoped to be in practice long enough to have my patient population grow with me over the years. 

I have a patient, who as a child, cried when I dispensed her first glasses, smiled when I fit her first contacts in middle school, and cried again when I had her take a health hiatus from contacts in college. She's now grown and married.   

Which optometric issues concern you the most?

I fear the eventual loss of  'old-school' private practice Optometry, where we live, work and grow together in same community for years. In all practice modalities, our doctors are always excellent, but from a small business, community and some-patients'-needs aspect, private practice is good for the country and patient care. 

Why did you choose a career in optometry?

I loved science and math in high school and college. My undergrad degree is in engineering, but that was not the science I enjoyed once out in the field. Optometry has met my need for blending my interests of science, math, medicine and physics.  

Where do you hope to see your optometric career in five years?

In transition. Possibly in a consultation mode. 

What is one piece of advice you can give OPT IV students as they prepare to graduate and begin their optometric careers?

Do not be afraid to try different modalities of practice. I assumed I would do only one my whole career. As it turns out, I have practiced in the military, in optometry chains, as an associate in a group practice and as a solo private practice optometrist. Each has provided growth and insight within the profession.  


Why did you choose to attend Ohio State?

Academic reputation and proximity to family. 

What were your most memorable moments at Ohio State?

Well, to offset the rigors of academics, we were kind of jokers in the class. Lots of harmless pranks at the expense of classmates and instructors. 

One truly atypical event comes to mind. After a Dr. Sally Dillehay exam that I studied for as normal, I sat in the classroom smugly knowing I wasn't one of the students in whom she was so disappointed. With a class average of 60%, she announced she was particularly surprised at one result. Got to my car and looked at the paper ... it was me, a 40%. Wow,  F-minus!

What lesson did you learn at Ohio State that has affected you the most so far in your career?

I am so impressed with the students the College of Optometry chooses for each class. My classmates were so bright, leaders, and accomplished their goals. It truly legitimizes our profession to have such high caliber graduates. It has made and makes me continue to strive, even some 22 years later. 

What does Ohio State and the College of Optometry mean to you and your family?

We are daily proud to be Buckeyes and are especially proud of our ties to the College of Optometry. The alumni camaraderie is evident throughout the country. It was a 'badge of honor' in the military, as leaders knew the College's reputation for professional excellence. 

How do you stay connected with the College of Optometry as an alumnus?

Colleagues, newsletters, continuing education. 


What are your current hobbies, volunteer work, interests?

We really enjoy time with family, friends and travel.  We have become recent grandparents to Lincoln Ostrem and he lives in Dublin. Having lived in eight states over the years, we are blessed to have friends throughout the country to go visit and who come to see us. 

We enjoy the outdoors, especially running and biking.   

We have recently set the goal to see a baseball game at all of the MLB parks and just got back from Boston seeing Big Papi (David Ortiz) at Fenway. 

I am unabashedly a Disney World nerd and tend to go with family and friends about twice a year. 

I am currently busy as a Board Member of the West Point Society of Central Ohio, preparing for the Army/Ohio State tailgate in September 2017. I shall be wearing a West Point Alumni shirt with Scarlet & Gray shorts!

If not an optometrist, I would be ...

A marine biologist.