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Doctor Spotlight: Becky DeRuyter, O.D.

Becky DeRuyter

Get involved. I’ve been in my practice now for seven years. And we all know it takes time to grow. Being proactive is the best way of speeding up the process. In 2003, I opened cold inside the new WalMart Vision Center in LeMars, IA, very near my hometown. Being a new grad and having no business experience, I just waited around for patients to show up. And they did show up, but not in the kind of numbers I had hoped for. Even though I had been told this would be MY practice, I don’t think I truly viewed it that way or took any ownership of it initially. So I just kept waiting for more patients. Our numbers were growing, but slowly.

My family and I liked the community, and I decided it would be good to become more involved. (By the way, for those who may not know, LeMars is the official “Ice Cream Capital of the World” and the home of Blue Bunny ice cream – not a bad place to be!) I joined the local Lion’s club in 2004 and have stayed active with the group, serving as president in 2007-2008. Another way we’ve been community-minded is by performing InfantSEE exams and actively promoting InfantSEE – information goes home with every parent of a newborn at our local hospital. Each year, our practice does a full day of (about 40) free exams for kids getting ready to start kindergarten. We also sponsor a character building book series that gets handed out to all local 2nd grade students. And in 2009, in conjunction with the Lion’s club, we started a free annual community glaucoma screening at our office, which we promote at the hospital’s annual health fair. I’ve been asked to speak for the local cardiovascular and diabetes support groups too. Our office, Advanced Eye Health, joined the LeMars Area Chamber of Commerce a couple of years ago, and we have been active within the group, holding our first chamber coffee recently, where local business people visit the office for a social gathering and to learn more about the business. Our community started a new young professionals group last year and we are just starting to get involved with them as well.

Getting involved in the community has proven to be one of the best marketing tactics available, and, more than that, has greatly contributed to my sense of personal and professional fulfillment.

Becky DeRuyter

Fortunately for me, I enjoy being involved in a lot of things, so becoming involved in my state association, the IOA, seemed like a natural step to take. Our association in unusual in that we have over 90% of all OD’s in the state as members, one of the highest percentages nationwide. Just because I am an active member does not mean I always have or will agree with decisions that are made, but in my opinion, strength in numbers wins when we must deal with outside influences who want to tell us who we are and what we can and cannot do for our patients. My strength is NOT in politics, so I have concentrated on education, being on the education committee since 2005, and serving as chair of one of our annual meetings for the last two years. This year I was elected as a trustee on the IOA board of directors, as well as being presented with the “Young OD of the Year” award. (It was a proud day for my mom! And for anyone who may be wondering, yes there IS more than ONE young OD in Iowa☺)

Becky DeRuyter

Being involved doesn’t hurt one’s marketing either. In just the past year, I’ve been featured in the local newspaper four times, once talking to Senator Grassley about healthcare reform, once giving a tour of our office for a local preschool field trip, once for our chamber ribbon cutting, and once for the above-mentioned award. You’d be surprised how many people stop in and mention they’ve seen me in the paper!

In my last write-up, I mentioned technology, marketing, and patient care. We still work hard every day to stay current in all those areas. I’ve purchased at least on new piece of equipment yearly for the last four years. I’ve hired Dr. Gerber’s Power Practice to help with our business structure and marketing, which has been phenomenal, and I try my best to deliver the best patient care and experience possible. And it doesn’t hurt to have and awesome team to back me up, my assistant Jamie and our vision center staff. We strive to make our practice inviting and welcoming, including decorating, playing music, serving coffee and chocolate, and creating a kids area. And we smile – a lot. It may sound cheesy, but it works. We pride ourselves in being a very friendly and fun office. Our patients frequently comment on it, and it makes it even more enjoyable to come to work every day.

My optometric career and life in general has been very good to me. As I mentioned, our practice has worked hard to be the best around, and sometimes things get busy and hectic, but I love it and it still allows me plenty of time with my wonderful husband, Dave, and two beautiful kids, Emma (4) and Ian (2). I am blessed.