Betty Wang, OD
Memeber since 2015
In our quest to fulfill our mission to Empower, Connect and Promote the success of women ODs, we have created this weekly feature to promote our amazing members across the country. Their stories will inspire you to dream big and reach higher!
The featured Diva for this week is Dr. Betty Wang. Read the full feature below to learn how her unwavering dedication to her family during their most difficult time, led to a career in Optometry! 1. Tell us a little bit about you?
I was born and raised in West Palm Beach, Florida – a native Floridian who loves warm weather and being outdoors, even during the humid 90 degree summers! I have an older brother and younger sister. My sister is currently in optometry school. I went to college at University of Florida and optometry school at University of Berkeley.
I always wanted to experience living in Northern California, particularly Berkeley. I watched a documentary when I was in middle school about Berkeley, and was fascinated by the city’s culture and diversity. When I received the call from UC Berkeley during my senior year of undergrad, I accepted without hesitation. It was one of the best experiences of my life so far. I was able to obtain an incredible educational foundation in becoming an optometrist, and met the most genuinely kind classmates and inspiring mentors that I still have as close friends years after graduation.
I moved back to Florida after graduation to complete a residency in primary care and ocular disease at the Bay Pines VA. I worked for two years at the Florida Eye Clinic in Orlando and then joined the Orlando VA as a staff optometrist since 2015. I knew I wanted to work at the VA in the beginning stages of my optometry path after doing a pre-optometry internship at the Gainesville VA. It’s rewarding to be able to care for our veterans, too many of them are underserved and in need of comprehensive eye care. I also enjoy working with students and residents at the VA – they teach me something new almost everyday! I’m blessed to be where I am.
In my spare time, I like keeping busy and spending time with my family and friends. My parents tell me that I have been a busy body ever since I could walk. I’m always up for an adventure or anything active – running, swimming, biking, exploring any of our Orlando theme parks – if it involves moving and being with my family/friends, count me in!
I also love traveling and seeing different parts of the US, and around the world when time allows. Some of my favorite trips have been to Taiwan to visit my family, Japan, and Spain. Being able to experience different cultures and seeing other ways of living is humbling and has made me feel more connected to the world.”
2. What made you decide to become in Optometrist?
My father, my role model, inspired me in becoming an optometrist. My father was diagnosed with severe stage glaucoma when he was at a young age of 42 and I was seven years old. By the time he was diagnosed, my father’s vision loss was unrecoverable. My father was legally blind by SSA definition at his time of diagnosis and became unemployed.
My family suffered from major financial hardships during the majority of my childhood. My father filed for bankruptcy, my mother worked full time, and I started to take more responsibilities such as caring after my younger sister.
During high school and college, I worked while being a full time student to assist with my family’s expenses. To this day, my father does not work or drive and has great difficulty with many daily tasks such as reading the mail and cooking. I have grown up each and every day with a deep understanding of the importance of comprehensive eye care and how optometrists, as primary care eye care providers can help prevent visually threatening eye conditions with proper diagnosis and treatment.
My father’s glaucoma has shaped me into the person I am today and made me so appreciative of one of the most important senses we have-our vision. He is the reason why I decided to become an optometrist.
3. What Optometry school did you go to?
4. Where do you currently practice?
5. Do you offer any specialty services in your practice?
My practice mainly focuses on ocular disease in a geriatric population.
6. Name 1 to 3 hurdles you personally faced as a private practice owner and how did you overcome them?
One hurdle that I faced early in my career is time management with a busy clinic schedule. After graduation, I wasn’t used to seeing 16-18 patients a day. I wanted to spend more time with my clinical exam and did not want to rush patients who had questions or more concerns, especially early in my career. As a result, I often ran behind and felt overwhelmed in clinic.
Over time, I was able to improve my exam efficiency and also learned to multitask. I learned to slow down when needed and be able to sense when certain patients needed more time and attention. I decreased the amount of pressure I put on myself, and learned that not everything needed to be done in one visit. If a patient needed more time with a certain test or more time with their contact lens fitting, I could bring them back to complete the remainder of the exam.
Another challenge I’ve overcome in my career is having the courage to speak up when ethical concerns arise. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Early in my career, I felt the pressure to conform to my professional surroundings or staying quiet even if I didn’t agree with something. I was able to overcome this by getting advice from my mentors and by giving myself “self-reflection” time to think about my principles and values – and to make sure that I always follow my own principles and values no matter the situation.
Getting advice and support from mentors and adhering to my principles and values helped me find the courage to speak up when something doesn’t feel right. One quote that really helped me during this time is the following:
“Living with integrity means not settling for less than what you know you deserve; asking for what you want and need from others; speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension; behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values; making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.” – Barbara De Angelis
7. If you could go back to when you were a student, what advice would you give yourself?
One piece of advice I would give to myself is to put less pressure on yourself. I think many optometry students set the expectation for themselves that they have to know “EVERYTHING” before they graduate.
Know that your time in optometry school is just a foundation that you’ll use to build upon. Don’t think that you have to spend the majority of your time in a library studying in order to be successful in school or your future career. Having a balanced lifestyle is so important and that includes resting and taking care of your health in order to be your best to take care of your patients.
Make time to have fun and spend quality time with your colleagues. Build meaningful relationships with your classmates and professors. Optometry school is a once in a lifetime experience, so enjoy every moment!
To contact Betty, you can click on her social media profile links below.