Alumni Focus on My-Hanh Vu (OD’10)
DR. VU’S STORY
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?
Dr. Gregory Nixon (OD’96) had a positive impact on my education in optometry school. Dr. Nixon has the rare ability to be engaging and empowering. He was able to teach in a way that helps you ask questions and elicit your own answers. A lot of the clinical skills I learned toward the end of my time in optometry school came together and clicked like a lightbulb in his class, helping me prepare for the real world. Dr. Nixon also placed my externship on the east coast so I could take a chance at a new environment without knowing anyone. I have not left since!
Regarding learning how to be a compassionate clinician, Dr. Jacqueline Davis (OD’81) definitely taught me a lot. I worked with Dr. Davis in underserved communities and witnessed how kindly she treated everyone and how her kindness impacted their lives. This inspired me to want to work in a setting where I can serve a diverse patient base of all socio-economic backgrounds.
DR. VU’S CAREER IN OPTOMETRY
Name of your employer(s) and title, including location.
I own my office in midtown Manhattan.
Give us a glimpse of your typical day as an optometrist.
I spend my morning going over our daily staff huddle. We go over the top three patient focuses for the day, discuss opportunities and praise our staff for any positive reviews we received the previous day. Then, I start my day examining everyone from the young contact lens wearer to a herpes simplex patient. We are a contact lens-heavy practice, but also screen, manage, and treat ocular disease. In between patients, I meet with contact lens reps or other medical reps who come to discuss new products and drop off samples. When I get home, I usually log on to make sure the staff conducted the medical billing correctly for the day, do my own bookkeeping and make sure the bills are paid!
Which optometric issues concern you the most?
We are not spending enough time educating patients and insurance companies on our own worth. This puts our profession at risk for being dispensable.
Why did you choose a career in optometry?
Optometry has so many different opportunities and avenues and allows you to be your own boss and control your hours.
Where do you hope to see your optometric career in five years?
I’d like to start a non-profit within five years and travel the world to help others see!
What is one piece of advice you can give OPT IV students as they prepare to graduate and begin their optometric careers?
Understandably, student loans are scary but don’t work just to be a “paycheck player.” If you work just to get by with little commitment to your employer, you will never stand out. With every job or any fill-in you take, put your heart and soul into it and go above your duties. Earn that raise before your employers even bring it up. The most successful people don’t get lucky, they make themselves indispensable. This is how rare opportunities will get passed along to you.
DR. VU’S OHIO STATE EXPERIENCE
What were your most memorable moments at Ohio State?
Honestly, I kind of miss cramming for midterms at the last minute with my classmates and eating junk food. The SVOSH trip to Peru was also life-changing for me and really opened my eyes to the world.
What do Ohio State and the College of Optometry mean to you and your family?
It means the opportunity to find yourself and your niche. You just have to take the time to put yourself out there and find what works for you but you will be supported along the way by awesome staff and colleagues.
How do you stay connected with the College of Optometry?
What has the COVID-19 experience taught you about patient care?
COVID-19 has taught me personally that it is okay to lose everything out of nowhere, and even in that, I can learn to become a better practitioner.
Prior to COVID, our midtown Manhattan office was doing its best ever. The business had been growing year after year for six years straight. I had a great staff and doctors I could trust. We thrived in the hustle bustle, and then within the course of a week, it seemed like the world just came crashing down. Our office ended up shutting down for a little over three months. Upon reopening, we have reduced our booking capacity in half in order to accommodate cleaning times and help patients feel more comfortable.
Prior to COVID, I would have been upset to have such a quiet office but now, I find the quiet calming. I am able to take time to be a better listener, I look at my patients in the eyes more, and when I ask them how they are, I truly mean every word. These are very basic skills but working in the field for over 10 years and seeing so many patients, I started to lose touch with seeing every patient individually. I humbled myself again by re-learning how to be a better doctor and allowed myself to let go of the things I could not control.
DR. VU’S FUN FACTS
What are your current hobbies, volunteer work and interests?
In my free time, I learn about finance, making passive income and early retirement. I am big on investing (stocks, ETFs, 401K, crypto) and I love real estate.
I also enjoy traveling the world and enjoy solo travel because it forces me to be more present and stay connected to the land and to myself. I’ve gone everywhere from Marrakech to Tanzania to Tokyo to Rio by myself. I am itching to get away again!
I currently work on a volunteer basis with a non-profit as their Youth Program Coordinator. I am currently learning about the non-profit space and would like to start my own non-profit one day in the healthcare and social justice space.
What was the first concert that you attended / most recent?
The Strokes New Year’s Eve concert, to ring in 2020.
If not an optometrist, I would be ...
A start-up founder or investigative journalist