This month we’ve been featuring our team on social media so that you can get to know us a little better. We’re wrapping up with special Q&A sessions with each of our doctors this week! Today we’re kicking things off with an invaluable team member who joined us in 2017, Dr. Ying Zhao. Enjoy!
What attracted you to become an optometrist?
During undergrad, I started considering my future career. Even though I knew I wanted to be in the health field, the choices were numerous. In the end, I decided that I wanted job that has face-to-face patient interactions and one that has regular work hours. As I shadowed an optometrist at the time, I realized optometry embodied all the values I was seeking. I was really amazed to see that after 30 years the doctor was still enjoying his job.
What do you think makes a good doctor?
Having a solid clinical foundation is crucial, but so are the soft skills, such as empathy and communication. While patients are looking for a solution to their problems, they are also seeking an experience to be understood. They may not remember how well we performed the eye exam on them, but they will always remember how we made them feel when they left our office.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Many moments remind me of how great optometry is. Several years ago, a mother brought her 8 year old son for an orthokeratology consultation because of his rapidly progressing nearsightedness. At the consultation, he was extremely anxious because he thought I would bring him more bad news. However when he woke up the next morning with clear vision after wearing the OK lens, his face was beaming. Not only did he become more curious about me, he even started joking with everyone. During our latest follow-up, his mother showed me videos of him skiing competitively. The way he made perfect turns down a slope was beyond cool. His mom is very happy because he is able to play any sport he wants without being disadvantaged by his nearsightedness thanks to the OK lens. Best of all, his prescription has remained stable since the treatment. Moments like this are incredibly precious and they remind me of how lucky I am to have an amazing job.
How would you describe the lifestyle of an optometrist in terms of work-life balance?
In my opinion, it’s pretty awesome! I usually work 8 hour shifts, and there is no additional charting or work I have to do after I go home. This means I have the freedom to decide how I want to spend my time after work. There is plenty of time to exercise, cook a healthy dinner, and rest. By doing so, I am refreshed to go back to patient care the next day.
What are some important things to look for in optometry school?
When I chose my school, there were two things that were important to me: 1) Clinical program. My goal was to pick a school that will help me build a solid academic foundation. On average, Berkeley students get to see over 2500 patients before we graduate. I think that’s pretty amazing! 2) The environment. Living in Northern California greatly enhanced my experience of optometry school. I couldn’t pass up living in the Bay Area for four years surrounded by the best minds, the newest technology, and beautiful views! California will always have a special place in my heart.
Any advice for undergrad students?
Make sure you get job shadowing experience and be open to opportunities. I made the decision to pursue optometry after seeing the day to day life and talking to an optometrist. Speaking of which, Avenue Eyecare has a great internship program for students. You’ll not only get to play with cool machines, but also build lifelong friendships and network here. If you are thinking about this career, I strongly recommend you reach out to us!
What is the best part of your day?
That is a tough one! I would have to say my morning ritual to prepare myself for the day. Starting my day with a cup of strong coffee and listening to audiobooks or podcasts make me so happy. It puts me in the right frame of mind for the rest of the day. Currently, my favourite podcasts are Hidden Brain and Optimal Living Daily. My recent reading list has the following books: The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel and Effortless by Greg McKeown.
What is one thing you want people to know about Avenue Eyecare?
Avenue Eyecare has incredible staff. We all bring something unique to the table to make it a dynamic, cohesive, and patient-centric team. Our bonds as a team translate into a positive experience for our patients as well. It’s a place I am very proud to bring my family and friends to.