Christie Russell-Villnow, OD ’04, opened Russell EyeCare in 2009. She wanted to practice in a small town where people were close and celebrated each other’s lives. She and her husband, Derek, feel right at home in St. Joseph, Minnesota. The community has supported them through opening their business, welcoming their child, and beyond.
Last year, Dr. Russell-Villnow opened a shared practice with her sister. Leslie Russell-Martin, MS, PhD, works in mental health. The pair began seeing commonalities between their patients, particularly those who had suffered traumatic brain injury. They work collaboratively to plan each patient’s rehabilitation, including vision therapy.
Here are a few of the day-to-day Essentials Dr. Russell-Villnow needs to accomplish this unique work:
“Recently, our lifestyle (and my workaholic tendencies) changed. Derek and I welcomed a 3-year-old into our family. Joseph (a.k.a. JoJo) keeps us on our toes and reminds us that there is more to life than working at the clinic.”
Read to Succeed
“As children, my sister and I were encouraged to read. As adults, we both read in our downtime. I hated the idea that a child would miss out on the imaginary world created by books. So, I took classes with COVD, OEP, Brenda Montecalvo, and read multiple vision rehabilitation books. I did this until I felt confident that I could help kids not just learn to read, but read to learn. I love the feeling that I get when one of our patients tells me that they are now reading above grade level when they were previously 3 levels below.”
Upgraded with Love
“My husband, Derek, is ridiculously multi-talented. He makes eyeglasses, is a trained ophthalmic technician, a licensed electrician, and renovated my entire office. Our primary care clinic needed a little more style. I was looking for Downtown meets stuffy English library… Yep, wood and brick.”
For Your Honor
“My favorite song is Glory of Love by Peter Cetera from The Karate Kid. I am a total romantic, and practice taekwando. It is a double bonus song!”
Camping or Glamping?
“My husband and JoJo conspire to go camping as much as possible. I love RVing, not actually tent camping, so you can frequently find us somewhere in our camper. No, I will not sleep in a tent. Curse all you nature people! (Just kidding.)”
“Is That a Fake Dog?”
“We get that question a lot. My little Shih Tzu, Buddy, comes to work with me every day. He is a therapy certified dog that loves to sit on his pillow and watch everything in the office. He used to get up and greet patients, but is now semi-retired as he is 13 years old. We have many patients that call to make sure he will be in when they have an appointment.”
“Child developmental psychology and developmental optometry go together like peanut butter and jelly. My sister and I work together to assess and address children who struggle in school. To us, we have the perfect collaboration. If you can dream it, you can do it.”
“I am a huge Stargate fan- the TV shows, not the movie. I am a nerd and have attended the Stargate convention that is near Chicago!”