Q&A: Katherine Schuetz, OD Optometrist at Little Eyes, Carmel, IN
Pediatric optometry, daily disposables, and napping
Where did you grow up?
I grew up right in here in central Indiana. We moved from Pennsylvania when I was seven years old, and we have been in “Naptown” pretty much my entire life. My dad is a Presbyterian minister, and my mom has been a secretary. They both went to college in Pennsylvania, then we moved out here when my dad took a church in Indianapolis. Preacher’s kid! [Laughs]
Why pediatric optometry?
I have been really fortunate to enjoy every aspect of optometry, truly. I worked in primary-care practice for the first several years of my career, then worked for a LASIK center part time while I was still working at a family practice. When I came out of school, being the low man on the totem pole, you tend to see a lot of the pediatrics. I liked it. I think it’s fun, and I enjoy kids, so it became a natural niche for me. I felt confident with pediatrics, so when I moved in 2009 to the current primary-care office that I’m in, we talked about doing a spin-off of just a pediatric office. That finally came for us in 2013.
Previous Q&A: Shauna Thornhill, OD, Owner, Amarillo Vision Specialists
What are three things you would advise new ODs who want to go into pediatric optometry?
Have the right motivation. [Laughs] It’s not an easy task. And know your own personality, make sure you can make that work with kids. You have to enjoy them. You don’t have to love kids, I’m not that person who goes up and wants to hold other people’s babies or plays with kids when I’m in a room with adults. Nope, I want the kids away. But I know clinically I can make kids feel at ease, and I can do my job quickly and professionally so that I can be a good doctor for children and make it fun. Number two: Surround yourself with staff who can do it because we went through some different staff members at the beginning who are fabulous staff members or great technicians and opticians, but they’re not meant to work with kids. The third thing would be to be brave and courageous and just go for it because it’s not an easy niche of optometry. People are looking for it, but it’s not selling $700 frames. It’s a very different mode of practice. You have to be prepared to understand what this is going to look like because it’s completely different from a vision therapy practice or very different from a primary-care practice.
How do you go about putting children at ease?
I feel very fortunate that it comes pretty naturally to me. You ask the same questions about themselves, you joke with them and make them giggle a bit, don’t put them on the spot. I don’t like doing visual acuity first thing—we do things so they don’t feel right or wrong at the beginning. We’re just looking at some cool things, I show them my fun flashlights, and I show them everything we’re doing before we do it in a very natural flow. If you can smile a lot and explain what you’re doing in a non-threatening way, it’s easy.