Alumni Focus on Shane Foster (OD'08)
DR. FOSTER'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?
I had the greatest impact from my first-year professors who taught us the building blocks upon which we would place all of our clinical skills – Dr. Mark Bullimore, Dr. Vondolee Delgado Nixon, and – after the initial fear and panic from his lectures subsided – Dr. Mike Earley (OD/MS’88, PhD’92).
As for clinical instructors, I had an amazing rotation with Dr. Jackie Davis (OD’81), Peggy and Jen Miller Smith at South High Clinic – lots of learning and lots and lots of laughs! Dr. Lisa Lex (OD’82) was a wonderful clinical educator, but she went beyond that and also gave me advice, support, and encouragement through a difficult time in my personal life.
DR. FOSTER'S CAREER IN OPTOMETRY
Name of your employer(s) and title, including location.
I own Athens Eye Care, a three-doctor practice in Athens, Ohio. I took over full ownership of the practice last year after being in partnership with my optometry mentors, Drs. Tom (OD’79,MS’81) and Susan Quinn (OD’82), for the last 11 years.
Give us a glimpse of your typical day as an optometrist.
As an owner of a busy practice, my typical day involves a LOT of multi-tasking. I serve as a preceptor to fourth-year students from The Ohio State University College of Optometry, so I am usually supervising an extern in clinic and managing a schedule of all types of patients. I have volunteer roles within the AOA, OOA, and OOF, so I try to keep up with email communications for those roles between patient encounters. My practice participates in clinical trials, so seeing study patients provides a nice change of pace as well. After work I sometimes find myself at one of Athens’ famous craft breweries for a happy hour with some friends, and then home for family time with my husband and son.
Which optometric issues concern you the most?
My passion in optometry is promoting the importance of children’s vision. Comprehensive eye exams for all school-aged children would promote greater productivity in the classroom and improved academic performance.
I also think it is important to promote our profession to the next generation. The demand for high quality eye care professionals will continue to increase over the coming years, and we should all identify and encourage qualified high school and college students to pursue optometry as a career.
Why did you choose a career in optometry?
The optometrist was the doctor visit I always actually enjoyed going to as a child. I was amazed by the 3D wings on the stereo fly, and I was impressed by the way my vision could be instantly corrected with a change of lenses. I also worked as a technician/optician in my practice as a college student, and that on-the-job experience solidified my decision.
Where do you hope to see your optometric career in five years?
My optometry school classmates unofficially dubbed me as “most likely to be a state senator.” It seemed ridiculous at the time, but I have really grown to appreciate the importance of advocacy on behalf of my profession. In five years, I would like to remain involved in advocacy in some way, whether that be political or otherwise. I would also like to expand my practice in Southeastern Ohio to help increase access to care for people in my area, where the need is so great and the resources are scarce.
What is one piece of advice you can give OPT IV students as they prepare to graduate and begin their optometric careers?
I would encourage new ODs to seize every opportunity available to them. Always say “yes” if it is feasible. This profession has so many doors available to open, and you never know where a conversation, a meeting, or a volunteer opportunity might take you.
I also want to invite all new grads to become members of the AOA and your state affiliate. Organized optometry is crucial to our continued success and growth. There truly is strength in numbers, and we need a unified front to advance our profession.
DR. FOSTER'S OHIO STATE EXPERIENCE
What were your most memorable moments at Ohio State?
I remember spending our entire first year in isolation in TBDTOITL (the best damn temporary offices in the land - a temporary classroom space across campus while the Fry tower was being constructed). It helped our class form great bonds for the future. I also thoroughly enjoyed my membership in EΨE! The time spent socializing and blowing off steam on the weekends created friendships that have lasted for many years.
What does Ohio State and the College of Optometry mean to you and your family?
The College of Optometry has always seemed like a family in and of itself. The relatively small class sizes help all classmates get acquainted with one another and form bonds that span miles and decades. Being involved in several optometric organizations, I always find a bond in an “extended relative” who is an alum or has some kind of connection to Ohio State Optometry.
How do you stay connected with the College of Optometry?
Honestly, I love reading these alumni focus updates on social media and seeing the diverse paths that my friends and colleagues have taken in their years since optometry school. I also enjoy looking through the BuckEYE Alumni Magazine. Additionally, I’ve served alongside Dr. Mike Earley on the Board of Trustees of the Ohio Optometric Association for the last six years, and he doesn’t miss an opportunity to share his excitement, passion, and pride for the amazing things that are happening at the College. He provides an Ohio State Optometry update as a part of our regular agenda at every OOA board meeting. It has been an honor to serve with Dr. Earley and see his unique inside perspective.
2020 is Optometry’s year! How are you making this year special?
I can’t wait to celebrate the grand opening of the new College of Optometry clinic space this fall! I am so happy this is coming to fruition, and it will make Ohio State Optometry even more attractive to the greatest talent in optometry. I also hope to host a charitable eye care event in my practice to help use 2020 to promote the importance of great vision and eye health.
DR. FOSTER'S FUN FACTS
What are your current hobbies, volunteer work, interests?
I currently do a lot of volunteer work within our profession. I am currently the Secretary-Treasurer of the Ohio Optometric Association and the President of the Ohio Optometric Foundation. I also volunteer on the AOA New Technology Committee. I get energized by advocating for the profession and interacting with other ODs from all across the country.
What was the first concert that you attended / most recent?
The most recent concert I attended was Nelsonville Music Festival in Nelsonville, Ohio. Despite being held in a tiny town, this annual festival outside of Athens has attracted big names, like Death Cab for Cutie, Willy Nelson, Mavis Staples, and the Avett Brothers.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
Teleportation. I love visiting new places, but I don’t care for the actual process of traveling.
If not an optometrist, I would be ...
A Spanish teacher. I entered college at Ohio University as a Spanish major but I was also interested in optometry. I think I was the only Spanish major taking physics and organic chemistry. Even though I decided to pursue optometry, I did graduate with a B.A. in Spanish and I am still semi-fluent.