Some women just seem to do it all. Dr. Lauretta Justin is an optometrist, private practice owner, and founder of Optometry Divas, a national organization connecting female ODs in authentic discussions about the balance between work, family, and life. Her story is one driven by passion and the wisdom that only comes with making plenty of mistakes.
Dr. Justin has been in private practice since 2006 and graduated from the New England College of Optometry in 2002. She was inspired to pursue optometry by the man she fell in love with, a story she calls her own personal fairy tale. Her boyfriend was set to take his driver’s license test but he didn’t pass the vision portion at the DMV. He went to see the eye doctor, and after multiple visits was diagnosed with Best’s Disease. She decided to go to optometry school because she wanted to better understand his condition and what technology was available to improve his vision. They married and now have three sons together.
“Starting a practice is very similar to giving birth to a baby,” Dr. Justin states when she talks about her journey to open Millennium Eye Center. When she started her practice cold in 2006, she had no experience and made a lot of mistakes on the business side. “I made every mistake conceivable. I think I even invented some mistakes when I first started my practice.” During the podcast she shares what she’s learned since, including leadership, administration, insurances, and sales.
“The biggest mistake I made was how to lead. I didn’t know how to lead my team. Because of that my turnover rate the first few years in practice was 75%.” Dr. Justin shares that she was so focused on being a doctor, she didn’t realize that it was equally important to be the leader of her office. She cites leadership as one of the core pillars in her business now. “I didn’t have the right mindset for a business,” she confides, but once she recognized this issue, she sought coaches, mentors, and education to help understand how businesses work both in optometry and beyond.
Her biggest advice if you are interested in opening a practice? “If you take your child to the ocean, your child doesn’t know the difference between a shark or a fish. You need an adult to guide you when you go to a new and different environment.” In business ownership, this equates to finding a mentor or business coach to help you tackle your goal. “[Finding a mentor] will save you money, and most importantly, it will save you time.”
Dr. Justin founded Optometry Divas in 2015 as a place for women to “Empower, Connect, and Promote the Success of Women ODs.” She was inspired to create this group after struggling to find work/life balance as a practice owner with three children. When she opened her practice cold, she had a newborn, and her two older children were only toddlers. She struggled with mom guilt and feeling overwhelmed with giving her best to both her practice and her family. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a group that she could turn to that would help provide support and encouragement for women struggling with the commitments of being wives, moms, and optometrists?
Optometry Divas now has meetings across the country, with goals of having a chapter in every major US city. The meetings include both continuing education and social gatherings for women to discuss the issues facing their lives and careers in a judgement-free space. Dr. Justin recently heard a meeting described as “flawsome” – celebrating that the flaws and imperfections that make us human are also a real and vital part of what makes us awesome, successful women.
If you are interested in contacting Dr. Justin or learning more about Optometry Divas and how you can get involved, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.