Alumni Focus on Lauren Haverly (OD’14)
DR. HAVERLY'S STORY
What institution did you attend for your undergraduate degree? What was your major?
University of Minnesota, 2010
Major: Biology, Society and the Environment
Minor: Spanish Studies
Which degree(s), related to optometry, did you earn at Ohio State?
Who were your mentors at the College of Optometry? Who had a positive effect on your education?
Obviously, the incomparable Karla Zadnik. She expected us to push the envelope but was right there by our side holding herself to the same high standard. I’ll never forget how she took one of my classmates out to dinner to help encourage her through a challenging class. Meanwhile, Dr. Zadnik was recently diagnosed with breast cancer but didn’t say anything yet. She was selflessly there for her students even in the midst of an immense personal battle.
Don Mutti, the “Optics Messiah," was one of the best parts of being a Buckeye. He even let me cry in his office when I thought I was going to fail Part I (I passed!).
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the third component of that trio, Gil Pierce (OD’89, MS’92, PhD’94). Those three perfected the art of supporting students outside of the classroom and became extended family to me.
Dr. Dawn Goedde (OD’04) and Dr. San-San Cooley (OD’09) were brilliant and intimidating in the best way. I learned so much from them and wish I could still have them as attendings here in Minnesota.
DR. HAVERLY'S CAREER IN OPTOMETRY
Name of your employer(s) and title, including location.
Myself! I opened Prism Eye Care in St. Paul, MN in March of 2020. Impeccable timing, I know.
The amount of support that I’ve received from our optometry family since opening during a global pandemic has been overwhelming, and I am convinced I would not have been able to weather the storm without our colleagues. I even had colleagues drive an hour to pay out of pocket for an eye exam at my office.
Give us a glimpse of your typical day as an optometrist.
I drive a whopping 10 blocks to my clinic every morning and do administration/insurance/accounts receivable before I see patients all day. I practice full scope optometry so I do everything from myopia management to glaucoma and dry eye. There is always something that keeps me on my toes.
Which optometric issues concern you the most?
Stagnant vision plan reimbursement with increasing cost of providing quality care.
Minnesota is currently in the middle of a scope battle so I am also very focused on educating the legislators and the public on the extent of our education and clinical capabilities. The only people who lose when we can’t practice to our full education are our patients.
Lastly, new schools and programs attempting to start an optometry school concern me. There is a stagnant applicant pool and it is becoming harder to attract qualified candidates with more programs.
Despite all of these concerns, I absolutely love our profession. The only way we can fight these issues is by staying engaged and being our own advocates. If you’re not currently involved, I encourage you all to take steps to make optometry’s future better.
Why did you choose a career in optometry?
I wanted to feel fulfilled with my career and optometry absolutely does that. We make our community happier, healthier and safer.
Where do you hope to see your optometric career in five years?
I’d like to be known in my community for myopia management, since preventative care should be at the core of our practice. I hope to stay engaged with my classmates and friends, Ohio State Optometry and the Minnesota Optometric Association/American Optometric Association. I am a better practitioner because of the people I have met through various optometry organizations. Lastly, I’d like to have flexibility with my schedule. Even if I win the lottery, I’d still be a practicing optometrist and see patients. It just wouldn’t be 40 hours/week!
What is one piece of advice you can give OPT-IV students as they prepare to graduate and begin their optometric careers?
You get out what you put in. Showing up is over half the battle and is the best way to open new doors and meet someone who can help change your life. The optometry family is large in number but very tight knit. Reach out to alumni, go to conferences and introduce yourself. We want to see you succeed as you are the future of our great profession.
Never stop learning. Graduating optometry school is an incredible accomplishmen, but you will continue to grow and evolve as a practitioner - especially in the first few years out of school. Find mentors within your state who you can learn from. It’s okay to admit you don’t feel comfortable with a certain condition or procedure. Find someone good at that condition/procedure and ask them to help you. I remember when I was a brand new doctor at a Young OD event in Minnesota I was talking about how terrified I was when I removed my first foreign body. A doctor two years older than me shared a similar story and then proceeded to tell me how she got more comfortable doing it. She has no idea how much that conversation impacted my practice and I am better because of it.
DR. HAVERLY'S OHIO STATE EXPERIENCE
What were your most memorable moments at Ohio State?
Doesn’t everyone say Epsilon Psi Epsilon? The EYE House and all of the EYE events gave me lasting memories. Events with Epsilon Psi Epsilon were the best way to get to know students in other classes, engage with professors outside of school and even meet some alumni.
Call me a nerd but I also loved attending conferences. While at “AOA on Capitol Hill” in Washington D.C., I felt a fire ignite inside of me with regard to organized optometry and advocacy. I also loved seeing how much of an impact Ohio State Optometry has on the profession at a national level. Buckeyes are everywhere!
Were you involved in any organizations as an Ohio State Optometry student?
Epsilon Psi Epsilon, Private Practice Club, AOSA, SVOSH. During school I also worked for Dr. Jennifer Mattson (OD’06) at her private practice and gained invaluable experience in every position other than optometrist. I figured if I wanted to own my own clinic one day and lead people I needed to learn how to do what I expect of my staff.
What do Ohio State and the College of Optometry mean to you and your family?
Ohio State will always have a piece of my heart. It gave me some of the best friends I could ever ask for. I met my wife in Columbus my first year of optometry school while she was a senior in undergrad at Ohio State studying architecture. I was already out of the closet when I entered optometry school but Ohio State and Columbus were the perfect environment to help me feel more confident about myself. I wasn’t just out of the closet by the time I graduated, I was out and (dare I say it) proud.
I know Ohio State is so much more than football, but Buckeye football has given me a connection with others that is irreplaceable and (generally) uncontentious. Even if I disagree with colleagues about XYZ topic, there is always Ohio State football to bond over. I check-in with my father-in-law every Saturday for the Buckeye report with “College Game Day” on in the background. Belonging to this culture is something I will embrace my entire life.
How do you stay connected with the College of Optometry?
Recently, I joined the Ohio State Optometry Alumni Society Board as a Trustee. I try my best to meet up with Buckeyes at national meetings and even simply root for them through social media. I also take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and ask fellow Buckeyes for advice constantly. Our network is irreplaceable. I also donate to the college annually.
What has the COVID-19 experience taught you about patient care?
Optometry is incredibly important to the healthcare system. We kept patients safer by treating them in our offices instead of having them go into the ER. I think it’s important to acknowledge that even in the midst of a global pandemic, the most important thing to our clinics have been our patients and our staff. It’s always about the people. Disruptive technology will never be able to give patients the empathy and care like we do.
How do you imagine patient care will change in the future, in light of the COVID-19 public health crisis?
I am very curious about what the long-term impact increased screen time will have on our eyes and visual system. Sure, screen time has been an issue for some time but now patients that work from home are struggling with their work-life balance and working longer hours. Anecdotally, I see more binocular vision issues and my theory is because our patients are having to accommodate and converge like never before. It’s long overdue, but I hope that more eye doctors will address binocular vision more. Even a simple cover test goes a long way.
DR. HAVERLY'S FUN FACTS
Tell us about your first-ever eye exam (either that you received or provided).
Sadly, I don’t remember my first eye exam, but when I was an associate optometrist for Dr. Pat Wellik (OD’89) my entire family’s name was in their database because he gave me an eye exam when I was nine years old. If only he knew at the time that the Scandinavian-looking little girl with blonde hair, blue eyes and freckles would be his favorite associate one day. Full disclosure, Dr. Annika Anderson (OD‘11) and Dr. Megan Kieffer (OD‘21) now work for him and have probably taken that title from me. They rock.
What are your current hobbies, volunteer work and interests?
Advocacy is a passion of mine both personally and professionally. If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. One of my friends is a local politician and her response to others when they tell her they’re not interested in politics is, “You might not be into politics, but politics is into you.”
In my free time, I love learning about other cultures. Foreign languages are especially interesting to me. I read books that I already know (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, etc.) in Spanish to exercise my linguistic muscle and have dabbled with introducing other languages like Portuguese, Swedish and Norwegian. Sports have always been an important part of my life but since opening my own clinic I have not been able to dedicate as much energy toward being a fan.
My wife is an award-winning homebrewer so I also like to brag about her accomplishments and act as her guinea pig/sampler-extraordinaire. Somebody has got to do it!
What was the first concert that you attended / most recent?
Lizzo was the most recent concert we attended right before the pandemic hit. Doesn’t everyone like a good “Hair toss, check my nails” feel good song?
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
I wish I could be in two places at one time. There is so much to do and see in this world.
What’s the best eye pun you’ve ever heard?
I’m not sure this is the best eye pun I’ve ever heard but hearing patients refer to their cataracts as “cadillacs” never gets old. Ever.
If not an optometrist, I would be ...
Does Brutus the mascot count? I’ve always said a sports broadcaster but I think I would miss the fan experience. I’m also a “homer” and would not be able to contain my enthusiasm for Ohio State or Minnesota. I’d be fired in a heartbeat. I’m happy with being an optometrist!