Diva of the week – Margaret Grand, OD

Margaret Grand, OD

Elite Diva- Orlando, FL

The featured Diva for this week is Dr. Margaret Grand. Read the full feature below to learn how this trailblazer found a way to have her “all” and set a precedent for all future women ODs.

1. Tell us a little bit about you?

I grew up in Berkeley, California. I met my optometrist husband, Ron, when I was in high school there. We will be celebrating our 55th wedding anniversary this summer.  We have two daughters. Our youngest, Michele, is a Certified Optician. We have two granddaughters in college. Carina the eldest is mid-way through her first year of optometry school at NOVA.

I originally trained as a medical assistant and worked in an OB GYN office. During Ron’s last two years at UC Berkeley, I enrolled in the “Curriculum in Orthoptic Technique” at the UC Medical School in San Francisco.

Soon after, Ron was called to active duty and we spent the next 10 years relocating.  During that time we lived in

1. The Philippines

2. Louisiana

3. California

4. Connecticut

5. Massachusetts

6. Florida

During those years I was able to work or volunteer my services as a Certified Orthoptist.

Towards the end of those 10 years while Ron was at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, I finally completed college with a B.S. in Biology at Simmons College.  The following year, while working for a pediatric ophthalmologist in Pensacola I decided to pursue optometry school.

UAB was the only school to encourage me to apply.  However, I was still missing a few requirements to qualify. Before I could enroll in a local college to get the required courses, we had to move to Japan.

While living in Yokohama, Japan I decided that I was not going to let the move stop me from pursuing my dream.  I commuted by train to from my city to Tokyo every day and completed the outstanding courses at Sophia University – a Roman Catholic private research university in Japan.

By the next fall, I had completed all my requirements and was admitted to UAB. I left the family in Japan and moved back to the States to start Optometry School. I returned to Japan during breaks to see my family. It was a difficult choice, but I had the support of my husband and I was determined to see this trough. 

After Ron’s term was over in Japan, he was to return to Pensacola, FL where the family would reunite.  However, the Navy sent Ron to Rhode Island instead. Hence my transfer to Boston to finish Optometry school.

I spent my last few years of Optometry school at NEWENCO in Boston, MA. While at NEWENCO, I was awarded the clinical rotation in Jerusalem, Israel. Living in Israel was one of the most exciting experiences in my life. I will never forget it.

After graduation I started a private practice in Newport, RI. However when Ron retired from the Navy, we decided to move back to Florida. LensCrafters, a new concept at the time, offered us four practice locations in central Florida. With such an incredible offer, we couldn’t pass it up. We moved back to Florida!

Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to be involved and serve in many social and professional groups:

1. President of the Officer Wives Club

2. Founding president of the AOA AFOS auxiliary 

3. First female president of our Rotary Club in Celebration

4. Area head of the Osceola Chamber of Commerce

5. FOA PAC member traveling to Tallahassee

6. Volunteer vision services locally and overseas

I am also a Breast cancer survivor!

2. What made you decide to become an Optometrist?

I have always loved eye and vision care. I also worked as an Orthoptist for over 10 years and was married to an optometrist. It was a specific incident, however that compelled me to pursue Optometry as a profession.

I had resolved a child’s binocular vision problem, yet the surgeon I worked for insisted on unnecessary strabismus surgery. I came home from work one day and asked Ron “Can I become an optometrist?”. I was tired of being overruled. I wanted to be the doctor and make the decisions. He replied “definitely”. The rest was history!

3. What Optometry school did you go to?

First two years at University of Alabama in Birmingham, B.S. Physiological Optics

Final two years at New England College of Optometry, O.D.

4. Where do you currently practice?

I have a private practice in downtown Celebration near Walt Disney World – Celebration Eyecare.

In the mid 90’s one of my patients, a Disney exec, asked if I was interested in being the optometrist in the soon to be developed town of Celebration. The original concept was to have a family doctor, dentist, and optometrist. I accepted.

5. Do you offer any specialty services in your practice?

Specialty contact lenses and dry eye. I no longer provide Orthoptics or visual training.

6. Name 1 to 3 hurdles you personally faced in your career and how did you overcome them?

When I started Optometry School, I had been married 13 years and been with Ron a total of 18 years. Leaving my husband and 2 young daughters, ages 6 and 8, on the other side of the world was much more difficult than I had imagined. In the days before the internet, skype, or email; snail mail was our only real contact. 

Prior to the separation I hadn’t realized how dependent I was on my husband to make decisions. Away at school I had no choice but to learn how to make decisions on my own. Professional school was a real challenge and there were always difficult decisions. The experience definitely helped me become a leader. 

As an optometrist, once we have decided on a course of action, we have to be decisive with our patients. The same holds true in running a business and dealing with employees and other business relationships. As difficult as it was to be apart from my family, I learned a lot about leadership during those years.

7. If you could go back to when you were a student, what advice would you give yourself?

I would not be so hard on myself. I would take more time to relax

To contact Margaret, you can click on her social media profile links below or visit her website at CelebrationEyecare.com

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