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The Ins and Outs of Corporate Optometry: Contracts, Legality, and Expectations

Upon graduation, if the statistics are correct, 1 of every 3 graduates will take a job in corporate optometry.

As a new graduate, one does not have a reference point for what is standard in corporate optometry in regards to lease, practice, and negotiations.  Dr. Dryer provides you with standard corporate practices so you will be able to better assess your contract.

1. Lease Arrangementscontact

  • Typical arrangements require a doctor to commit to 30 hours a week
  • The doctor collects all exam fees, contact lens fitting fees, but no materials (corporate’s optical handles materials)
  • If you are able to collect fees for contact lens materials, expect a higher lease rate
  • Doctor can either employ their own staff or pay the corporation to provide staff
  • Rent varies between corporations and regions of the country (see chart for more info)
  • Rent can be a flat rate per month vs. fixed percent of revenue
  • Doctor’s control of schedule varies per state and by hierarchy
For example, the hierarchy for America’s Best is one regional independent contractor who sets fees and determines the store’s schedule. You would be considered an associate under this model.
  • Leases will dictate to you what is considered by the corporation to be standard working holidays
  • Although exam fees are not set by leases, fees are set according to the “going rate” by other local corporate locations
  • Equipment provided is usually basic such as an auto-refractor and lensometer. Any additional equipment must be purchased by the doctor
If you do not sell enough ophthalmic goods from the chair, your lease can be terminated within 30-90 days notice depending on corporation

2. Legality By State

A. “1-Door State”: ODs share a door with the corporate store and are considered part; equipment and staff are provided by corporate

B. “2-Door State”: ODs have their own door and are legally separate from the corporation. You are responsible for your own license, own tax ID, collecting your own money, and filing your own insurance

Make sure you have set up your NPI, CAQH, Tax ID, and have enrolled on insurance panels prior to your first day of practice.

3. Differences By Corporation

The differences between corporations is more dependent on the legality of 1 vs 2 door state and not the corporation themselves. Your control or lack of control is dependent on:

A. If you hire/manage your own staff

B. How the hierarchy is arranged (independent contractor vs associate)

C. The corporation’s retail goals for your location

4. What will my Corporate Lease include?

  • Hours of Operation – may specify hours per day or days per week
  • Fees – Do you set the fees or do they?
  • Scheduling – How many patients will be scheduled for you to see? Do they have access to your schedule?
  • Non-Compete Clause – Fairness dependent on location/community
  • Sharing of Services –  Varies per state. Will staff be shared with the corporation?
  • Patient Records – If you leave, do the records belong to you?
  • Separation from Retail Component – 1 vs. 2 door state
  • Termination of Lease – Typically 30-60 days, but can be terminated by both parties.

 While leases can vary, please see the guide created by the AOA  for Employed/Affiliated Optometrists to ensure your contract has common inclusions.

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About Courtney Dryer

Courtney Dryer
Courtney Dryer is a 2011 graduate of SCO. She opened 4 Eyes Optometry in her hometown of Charlotte, NC in February of 2013. In addition to consulting with new graduate optometrists on start-up practices, she contributes regularly to New Grad Optometry and has guest blogged for Invision Magazine. The unique design of her boutique practice was featured in Women in Optometry. In 2015, Vision Monday named her a Rising Star, and one of the most influential women in optical.

8 comments

  1. Thanks for the article. The link to the chart with rent details by region and corporation does not work. Can you please update?

  2. S M

    Do you still have to get a CAQH number if you are a new graduate going into corporate? What is the purpose of this?

    • Antonio Chirumbolo

      Yes, youll need to. Even in corporate your employers will have to get your credentialed which they will need to do through CAQH.

    • Anna Lam

      “CAQH ProView is an online provider data-collection solution. It streamlines provider data collection by using a standard electronic form that meets the needs of nearly every health plan, hospital and other healthcare organization. “(https://www.caqh.org/solutions/caqh-proview-faqs)

      For example, if you are applying to be on multiple insurance panels, you do not have to make multiple profiles. The different health plans can see your profile on CAQH. CAQH will also make you attest every few months so your profile should always be current.

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