Alumni Focus on Tiffany Procaccini ('09)
DR. PROCACCINI’S STORY
I grew up in Republic, Ohio; it’s a small town of 600 people. I now live 20 miles east, in Willard, Ohio. Willard is home to Pepperidge Farm and other industry. Willard has a population of about 6,000 people.
Which degree(s), related to optometry, did you earn at Ohio State?
I received my Doctor of Optometry degree in 2009!!
Who were your mentors at the College of Optometry? Who had a positive effect on your education?
This is a hard question because at Ohio State we have access to the best educators. I had many mentors during optometry school. Dr. Gil Pierce (OD’89, MS’92, PhD’94) and Dean Karla Zadnik are high on the list. Dr. Pierce was a great professor and clinical instructor, but I most valued his involvement with the OOA. He really inspired me to join AOSA, where I became the president. While involved with the AOSA, I also had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. and lobby for our profession as a college student and see firsthand the hard work we must do to protect our scope of practice. Another benefit to the AOSA was being able to see how close knit the optometric community is. I was at a celebration for Dr. Cheryl Archer (OD’84), when she became the new OOA President, it was then I realized that I wanted to be a part of the community. All the ODs were so supportive and more like a family to each other than just colleagues. It was an experience I will never forget and hope that other students get to share.
DR. PROCACCINI’S CAREER IN OPTOMETRY
Name of your employer(s) and title, including location.
I own Vision Source Willard in Willard, Ohio. I am the sole optometric provider at this time, but I am looking forward to expanding in the near future.
Give us a glimpse of your typical day as an optometrist.
I usually arrive to the office a little early to go over details of the upcoming day with my team/employees and review the schedule for the day. I have five team members and we see 20-24 patients a day so the days move very quickly. We don’t have much down time at the office. The stress levels certainly have increased due to COVID-19 protocols. But we are doing the best we can to provide a safe environment for our patients and us.
Which optometric issues concern you the most?
I have always been concerned about online glasses and contact lens sales. Patients do not always see the benefits of buying from private practitioners; they want whatever is cheapest. We need to continue to show them they are buying more than a pair of glasses or a box of contacts. They get quality eye care and exceptional patient care.
Why did you choose a career in optometry?
This career path was something that came to me later in life. I always wanted to be a doctor. It wasn’t until I was in my master's of anatomy program, working on one of our anatomy donors, that I realized I wanted to be an optometrist. My donor had a cataract implant that we were able to dissect from the eye. It was very interesting. I called my cousin, Dr. Tim Fries (OD’04) MBA, MPH, and asked him about optometry. He bragged how great it was, so I applied to Ohio State Optometry and was accepted. My hard work had finally paid off!
Where do you hope to see your optometric career in five years?
I would like to have a partner or associate to help meet the demands of my patients.
What is one piece of advice you can give OPT IV students as they prepare to graduate and begin their optometric careers?
You may not find your niche right after graduation. The great thing about optometry is that everyone is so helpful and resourceful. Don’t be afraid to ask your peers for advice.
Meet with a financial advisor. Your loans aren’t going to go away and you do have to pay them back.
DR. PROCACCINI’S OHIO STATE EXPERIENCE
What were your most memorable moments at Ohio State?
There are so many things. My dream was to always be a Buckeye so I made the most of it!
The most memorable moments are the things we did as a class. We had “Shaheen Week” activities, many Epsilon Psi Epsilon get-togethers, football games, the EYE balls, and Mirror Lake. The list goes on. But the most memorable thing happened because I went to Ohio State. I was in SVOSH and went to Nicaragua for a mission trip. It was so amazing helping the people there. They were thankful and welcomed us into their country. In exchange for eye exams and glasses the Nicaraguans showed us their beautiful country. I hope to get to participate in mission trips again in the future.
What do Ohio State and the College of Optometry mean to you and your family?
We are huge Buckeye fans. Without the College of Optometry we wouldn’t be where we are today. My family has moved three times to follow my career. Now we have found our home and are raising two little Buckeyes. Our kids think Michigan is a bad word!
How do you stay connected with the College of Optometry?
We attend alumni games and functions at the college. Its always nice to return to Buckeye Country. We also support the Alumni Association yearly.
Have you made the year 2020 special?
Before COVID ... Yes. I think we will need to make 2021 the year of Optometry, considering.
What has the COVID-19 experience taught you about patient care?
The COVID-19 experience has reminded me that we are more than just optometrists. This year, I have listened to patients more and had more heart to hearts with them. Some days I feel like a therapist. I have at least one patient per day tell me that coming to their eye exam has been their first time out of their house since March. They don’t all need new glasses, they just need someone to talk to and I am happy to be that person.
DR. PROCACCINI’S FUN FACTS
What was the first concert that you attended / most recent?
I attended my first concert when I was about 13 years old. My dad took me and my cousin to a Kiss concert. We had floor seats. I still have memories of that night.
My most recent concert was Justin Timberlake last year with my husband. We were supposed to go see Chris Stapleton this year, but that was cancelled due to COVID.
What’s the best eye pun you’ve ever heard?
How many optometrists does it take to screw in a light bulb??
One or two….
My jokes just keep getting cornea and cornea.
If not an optometrist, I would be ...
A middle school teacher or college professor.