Fall 2015
Fall 2015

Millennials
“Millennials” (1982-1995) are now entering and graduating from ICO. According to Teaching at Its Best, Millennials are “the most diverse generation- economically, politically, ethically, racially, and culturally” ever to enter the working world. This generation is- “self-confident, extremely social, technologically sophisticated,” but also “impatient, demanding, stressed out.” Generally, Millennials don’t feel “called” to eye care. A study by Junction Lab commissioned by ICO revealed that Millennials don’t aspire to be “the best,” but rather “best prepared.” How can practicing optometrists improve their hiring practices and work environments to welcome Millennials? What could Millennials and their predecessors do to be more effective colleagues and collaborators?

Arol Augsburger, OD

ICO President

Self-confidence and plural interests sometimes cause experienced practitioners to misunderstand Millennials’ motivation and work ethic. Here are several opportunities to consider for experienced optometrists who are bringing Millennials into their practices:

  • Set clear expectations. Identify priorities. Define excellence in performance regularly, not just at the end of the year. Remember to be flexible and reasonable. Focus on outcomes and results. Don’t expect them to necessarily approach their work as you did when you started.
  • Be sure to give feedback about results and outcomes. Resist the urge to tell them how to get their work done. Remember, they are bright people who are used to learning something new each day. Reinforce their efforts and successes regularly.
  • Help Millennials to give back, affect change in their communities, and better society. Successful Millennials know that giving back is not just about money, but also about offering skills and talents that can change their communities in new and inventive ways.

Kara Heying, OD ’98

ICO Alumnus of the Year

It actually surprised me that Millennials are considered “impatient, demanding, and stressed out.” As a private practitioner who has practiced in the same city for 17 years, those “restless” characteristics seem rather negative if one was looking to welcome a new associate or partner into their practice. Fortunately, I didn’t observe those specific kinds of behaviors in most of the people I interviewed recently.

The most common trait was that all the students I spoke with were very prepared for my interview. It was clear they had spent time becoming familiar with our office website, had learned some facts about our city, and a few even discussed ways they might be able to get involved within the community to drive patients into the office.

Our practice just added a new ’15 ICO graduate (Millennial) this June! We found the perfect fit when Dr. Ryan Berger joined our practice. With his outgoing personality and interests in contact lenses, CRT, and sports vision, we already have the beginnings of a great future together.


Jennifer Tai, OD ’15

It’s crucial to have an open, honest conversation about what each office’s values are with regards to patient care- what their business goals are, what their practice management style is, etc. I think people who share the same core beliefs would work best together regardless of age, race, or gender.

I think it’s important for the new grad ODs to treat a practice as their own. This is not only respectful to the hiring doctor who put faith in someone less experienced, but also beneficial to the new grad as it grants more learning opportunities with every extra patient encounter.

I don’t think asking for a fulfilling, well-paying job after many years of grueling education is unreasonable. Furthermore, diverse hobbies and aspirations help us be more well-rounded and connect to patients on a human-to human level.

Bottom line is this: I think people are all unique and a lot of great candidates could be overlooked if people are generalized based on their birth year.

To see a great example of Millennial-focused job-seeking tools, visit CovalentCareers.com.
Thanks to Aaron Lech, OD ’01, FAAO, for the recommendation!

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