Alumni Focus on Yoongie Min (OD '89)
DR. MIN'S STORY
I was born in South Korea, lived briefly in California, Texas and Philadelphia. In fifth grade, I moved to Wheelersburg, Ohio, which I consider my hometown.
Were you the first optometrist in your family?
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 many mentors at Ohio State, including Drs. Arol Augsburger, Joe Barr, Gary Andrasko, Paulette Schmidt, Greg Good, Greg Stephens, Richard Hill and John Schoessler. They all had positive effects on my career because they all showed a love of optometry, professionalism and the ability to connect with students.
DR. MIN'S CAREER IN OPTOMETRY
Name of your employer(s) and title, including location.
I am currently self-employed with one partner in my Columbus office, Northwest Vision Center.
Give us a glimpse of your typical day as an optometrist.
Each and every day I have is varied and a learning experience. My partner, Dr. Stephanie Sims, and I have a family practice that sees a wide variety of ages from infants to elderly patients in their 90s. Each day, it is not unusual for me to see refractive examinations, dry eye visits, emergencies such as infections and foreign bodies, glaucoma visits, and contact lens patients.
Tell us a special story that relates to your career now.
For more than 20 years, I had a satellite office in Chillicothe, which is about an hour south of Columbus. I closed that location in 2015, but I have been amazed at how many of my previous patients have made the trek to Columbus for their eye care needs. I am truly humbled at how many people from that location come to see me every week in Columbus. I also have very loyal patients who come in from other states or parts of the country for their care. I think optometry is such a warm, caring profession and that our patients literally build life long bonds with us.
Which optometric issues concern you the most?
- The debt load of students is concerning because I believe it forces them into practice situations that are not always ideal, but that are a means of paying down debt. I think this is fueling the ever-increasing presence of retail eye care that is transforming optometry into a carbon copy of pharmacy, which has largely lost its independence.
- The proliferation of new optometry schools may reduce the quality of the applicant pool and in the long run, hurt the quality of our students and the future of optometry.
- The ever increasing consolidation of eye care being controlled by a few huge vision and insurance plans, optical laboratories, and frame vendors gives us fewer and fewer choices and will in the long run, affect the way most optometrists run their practices and their businesses.
Why did you choose a career in optometry?
I became myopic in my early teen years and remember so distinctly what it was like to see well when I got glasses and contact lenses for the first time. That memory always stuck with me when it came time to look at different professions.
Where do you hope to see your optometric career in five years?
I love what I do and as of now, I have no plans to slow down in the next five years so I hope to continue practicing as I am now.
What is one piece of advice you can give OPT IV students as they prepare to graduate and begin their optometric careers?
I think students really need to look inward at themselves and decide what their strengths and weaknesses are, their personality types, and how they truly see themselves practicing and living. Optometry is such a great profession because there are so many practice modalities and it can be a very flexible profession from a time standpoint. Not every optometrist is cut out to be in private practice, many will end up in other modalities such as research, teaching, retail practice, and ophthalmology settings. I always knew I would end up in private practice but have worked in other modalities as well.
DR. MIN'S OHIO STATE EXPERIENCE
Why did you choose to attend Ohio State?
I grew up a Buckeye fan, which is almost impossible not to do when you live in Ohio. I originally started my undergraduate degree at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, but very quickly discovered that it was simply too small a school for me and what I envisioned my college years to be like. The nasty Cleveland winters also didn’t help. I transferred to Ohio State in the middle of my sophomore year, loved it here and never looked back..
What were your most memorable moments at Ohio State?
In my senior year of undergraduate school, 1985, the Buckeyes were invited to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. My parents happened to be living in the Los Angeles area at that time and so I was planning to be in California over the winter break. One of my best friends happened to work in the OSU President’s office as a student employee. He was able to get us tickets and invitations to all the major functions associated with the Rose Bowl. So there I was as a 21-year-old hobnobbing at the official OSU functions with then-President Ed Jennings, the Board of Trustees, government officials, and many of the famous ex-athletes associated with the university.
What lesson did you learn at Ohio State that has affected you the most so far in your career?
I think going to school at a place like Ohio State forces you to grow up quickly because you have to deal with such a large school and bureaucracy that it like a city unto itself. Because of the diversity of the school, it also makes you interact with people of all different backgrounds, races, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, and religions. I think this has given me the ability to connect with almost everyone that comes into my office, to treat everyone with respect, and to understand the differences among people.
What does Ohio State and the College of Optometry mean to you and your family?
Ohio State has given me and my family a sense of belonging to one of the greatest university families in the world. Not only has it given me my livelihood, but my wife is also an OSU graduate, my older son Andrew just received his undergraduate degree in engineering from OSU and my younger son Alex is a second year student in the Fisher School of Business. It gives us as a family such warmth and joy in knowing that we have experienced such commonality in our lives.
How do you stay connected with the College of Optometry as an alumna?
Because I am fortunate to be able to live locally, I am able to attend many of the College functions and keep a pulse of what is going on. I have often been asked to speak to students, especially minority students and I truly enjoy that aspect of recruiting new future optometrists to Ohio State.
DR. MIN'S FUN FACTS
What are your current hobbies, volunteer work, interests?
I really enjoy cooking and am constantly watching Food Network to get new ideas and recipes. Over the years, I served as a youth coach for football, baseball and basketball and truly enjoyed watching kids develop athletically.
If not an optometrist, I would be ...
The next Food Network Star!