Alumni Focus on John Nametz (OD'78)

DR. NAMETZ'S STORY

Hometown

My wife and I both grew up in a small central Michigan town, quite rural, by the name of St. Louis. It is the geographical center of the state. I was born in Akron to a teacher and research chemist, who relocated to Michigan to take a job at a chemical company.

Were you the first optometrist in your family?

I am the first optometrist in my family. My parents were Post-World War II college graduates, and had high expectations for their children. My brother is a retired attorney, and my sister writes senior health care literature for the state of Wisconsin.

Why did you choose to attend Ohio State?

I chose Ohio State for my education because it was a terrific optometry program at that time (and still is).

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

I received my O.D. degree there in 1978, with no particular specialization (typical for that era).

Name a mentor from the College of Optometry or a person who had a positive effect on your education.

While this may sound odd, I did not have a mentor within the College of Optometry, or even a person within the college I could lean on. In those days, the process seemed so much different than today. Instructors were not as congenial with the students, and there seemed to be so much more fostering of competition between students by the faculty. Of the people who did converse with me, I recall enjoying talking to Dr. Paulette Schmidt as much as any.

DR. NAMETZ'S CAREER IN OPTOMETRY

Tell us about the evolution of your optometry career.

My career started by working for the optometrist whom I had observed for three years in undergrad while contemplating the career. He was quite an astute business person, fiercely loyal and committed to patient care, and politically active. After five years, I decided to head out on my own, purchasing a small practice in western Michigan, where I have been ever since. This small, private practice was built on providing good family vision care, with emphasis on pediatrics and contact lenses. After 30 years, I merged my practice with a large ophthalmologic group in a nearby town, called Shoreline Vision. In this new role, I found that I was providing the same primary care and even more medical eye care to largely the same population. After working at Shoreline Vision for these past five years, I decided to retire at the end of December 2015.

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

As a sole proprietor of my private practice, I learned to provide primary care, and was willing to do whatever else it took to make the practice survive and thrive, including bookkeeping, cleaning, and taking out the trash if needed. I have always preferred to refract the patient myself, dilate their eyes, and perform the medical part of the examination, without shying away from an occasional eyeglass adjustment for that favorite patient. I have always enjoyed listening to the stories the patients tell of their lives, when they come back for their annual exam. These past five years I have had the pleasure of practicing full scope optometry, and my typical day might involve seeing post-op patients, glaucoma follow-ups, wellness exams, and a pediatric contact lens fit.

What’s one thing you learned during your education that has affected you most in your career?

Probably the most important thing I learned in optometry school: to listen to patients. As time went on, all my patients became my friends, and my friendships (and not wanting to let any friends down), along with the need to treat every patient consistently with professionalism regardless of station in life, became my passion. Relationship building and maintaining trust became what it was all about, and good eye care came along as a bonus.

Why did you choose a career in optometry?

I chose optometry as a career by shadowing people in undergrad. After shadowing a nearby optometrist for over three years every Friday, I felt that this would be a good profession for me: medically-oriented, detail-specific, and a respected field (and at that time, no “on call”).

Which optometric issues concern you the most?

While the scope of optometry does seem to be a focus these days, I am much more concerned with how to secure great future optometrists without saddling them with tremendous debt. We all have to pay our dues, but having a new grad leave campus six figures in debt does not give that doctor many avenues for the future.

DR. NAMETZ'S OHIO STATE EXPERIENCE

Most memorable moment(s) at Ohio State.

I have so many great memories from our days in Columbus: I could say it was the first few years of being newlyweds in a great college town and meeting lifelong friends; perhaps it was seeing a fleeting glimpse of Woody in his white ranchero driving down Lane Avenue; or helping my pregnant wife up to the very top of the horseshoe to watch our last home game; maybe, just examining the eyes of my mom as my first patient (Dr. Nancy Uniacke was my checkout instructor) and prescribing her first bifocal to her; and certainly my wife receiving her master's degree and my OD degree in the ‘shoe. I could keep going, but the point is, that Ohio State is within me, and I think with gratitude of those days so much. I am proud to be a Buckeye! Now that I will have more time in retirement, I definitely plan to visit campus more often!

DR. NAMETZ'S FUN FACTS

What are your current hobbies, volunteer work, interests?

I have spent my spare time coaching basketball for the past 30 years (varsity assistant in the high school), teaching cow eye dissections for the same length of time in the local elementary schools, and over the years have been a mentor to youth, and have been the president of a variety of wonderful organizations, including the school board, church council, chamber of commerce, Michigan Optometric Association, Rotary Club, and the Great Lakes Optometric Region. I might fish, golf, refinish antiques, or just goof off with my four grandsons.

If not an optometrist, I would be ...

If I hadn’t have become an optometrist, I would still have been a volunteer—as some say, it is the best work of life. I might have made a very good teacher and coach, and still may.

What are you most looking forward to, now that you are retired?

Our two daughters and their families reside in Cincinnati, and we will begin to spend significant amounts of time with them down there in our condo. I have a strong need to be a role model for my grandsons, and am looking forward to exploring southwest Ohio and beyond, reconnecting with our Columbus roots, and being schedule-free for this next great adventure.