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    Q&A: Michele Andrews, OD—Senior director, North America, Professional and Academic Affairs, Cooper Vision

    Opening a cheese shop, communication, and fearful ODs


    What are an optometry practice’s best practices?

    They have an identity that they feel very strongly about, and they are not going to deviate from who they are. They seek to get better, expand, and incorporate things that will make their identity richer and their practices better. They also embrace, value, and invest in their staff. In CooperVision’s Best Practices Initiative, we give groups the opportunity to talk about different subject areas; each year the topics were different with the exception of staff. Both groups wanted to talk about staff: what are you doing, how do you make it work, what investments do you make. We went to present their awards, and every practice had its entire staff there. The staff was part of it, and every owner said, “I wouldn’t be here without my team.” The final thing they all have in common is that they have a can-do attitude. No matter what comes their way, these doctors say, “That’s interesting. What can I learn from that?” It seems they’re inspired by those things rather than demotivated.

    How do you integrate your private and your professional lives?

    [Laughs] I have two children, I’m married, and we have an active life. It’s very messy, maybe it’s a controlled chaos, but I don’t try to balance it. I have an amazing family. We communicate frequently about our choices and what we all have to do to make those things happen. Some days we do it really well, and some days we don’t. Some weeks, my investment in work is much more than my investment in home and vice versa. When we have one of those weeks where the wheels come off, we’ll sit down and talk about it and ask if we need to make a change. Ultimately, the group seems to say no, we’re OK. We acknowledge that it’s messy sometimes.

    Do you have any regrets?

    I regret not meeting my husband sooner. I think we would have had more children. I think we would have had the opportunity to do things that we didn’t because of where we were in our lives when we met. Everything else I picked, so I’m good with the path.

    Related: Q&A: Craig Thomas, OD: Optometrist Dallas, TX

    What’s one thing about optometry that you would change?

    If optometry could adapt a bit more readily and not be so fearful of change, we could continue to be an amazing profession, evolve with customer demand, and serve our customers in the way they want. We tend to be slow to change and a bit fearful. If we can figure out how to love every idea for 15 minutes, see how it might work, and how it might grow the profession, we can get a lot further faster and people might be more energized and excited about the journey.

    What’s your guilty pleasure food?

    Anything with a chip and dip. I make a layered Mexican dip with refried beans, cheese, avocados, sour cream, and ground beef. It’s one of my favorite things to eat in the fall because I also love football. It’s the perfect thing to make while you’re watching games. I’ll send you the recipe.

    What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

    I took my kids whitewater rafting this summer. We took an easier course with class 1 to class 3 rapids. My daughter sat in front, and we hit the first rapid. The nose of your boat has to go in straight or you’re going to quickly get turned sideways and be in the water. We go into the rapids straight, and immediately the boat gets turned 90 degrees, my daughter’s oar goes flying, she’s screaming, and we are being pushed through the rapids sideways. I grabbed onto my daughter’s lifejacket because I was sure we’re both going in. Next thing you know, we’ve come through. The water’s perfectly calm. Her oar is floating in the water. I thought, “She’s going to be in this boat for the rest of the day scared.” She reaches into the water, pulls out her oar, turns around to say, “That was awesome!”

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