A Sit Down – with Dr. Kara Heying
This post appears as part of a series called Sit Down – candid conversations with real people detailing their journeys and experiences with Vision Therapy.
A Sit Down – with Dr. Kara Heying
For the benefit of our readers, can you explain how you are involved in Developmental Optometry?
I have been practicing Optometry for 16 years now – yikes! – for all those years I have been providing in-office optometric vision therapy.
What led you to Developmental Optometry?
Honestly, I first learned about vision therapy in Optometry school at ICO. When I realized the impact Optometry can have on many struggling students through vision therapy – I was hooked!
At this point in your career, who have been some of your biggest influences?
Well, initially it was my instructors at ICO. I was very fortunate to attend a school that had many great teachers who opened my eyes to vision therapy. Specially, Dr. Susan Cotter, Dr. Christine Allison, Dr. Kelly Frantz, Dr. Dominick Maino, Dr. Sandra Block and Dr. Michael Zost. After graduation my biggest influences were the many course instructors and lecturers’ at the COVD annual meetings. I took every applied concept course that was offered starting in 1999 until I completed my fellowship in 2003.
There are quite a “few husband and wife teams” around Developmental Optometry, and many people may not know this, but you and your husband are one of those teams. How do the two of you find a balance between your home and work lives?
Ha! Well we only discuss work in certain rooms of our home – seriously – plus we have a good division of responsibilities both at work and at home. However, the secret to any good partnership in business or marriage is having great communication skills, and fortunately we have that too.
Being a mom and a business owner takes a lot of skill and probably even more energy. How have you managed those two worlds simultaneously over the years?
Only with that great husband we just discussed.
Your bio reads that you joined your father’s practice after graduating from ICO and worked to incorporate VT into the practice. Can you tell us about that?
Yes, in fact joining an established practice in a downtown location with only a few practices offering VT in Iowa at the time came with a host of struggles. Fortunately, my father had a very successful practice with a great reputation, so although he never did VT, his endorsement of VT and direct referrals for VT was extremely helpful in building awareness and developing success. Now I have an awesome VT partner at the office, Dr. Christine Winter, who is also a fellow of COVD and who has slightly different interests that are more specific to brain injury, so we compliment and balance each other very well.
What advice would you offer new doctors who are looking either open their own VT clinic, or perhaps, do as you did and incorporate VT into an existing Optometry Practice?
1) Get started on your fellowship as soon as you can, as it will only strengthen your knowledge and also allow you to separate yourself from the pack of general optometrists thus making it easier to collaborate and communicate intra and inter-professionally. 2) Start by doing VT yourself – you will become a better clinician and better teacher when the time comes that you can afford to hire a vision therapist. 3) Take advantage of all the opportunities for learning that are now available for VT.
Your passion for this field has taken you beyond your exam room. Can you tell us more about this?
After receiving my fellowship, I wanted to give back to COVD. When I think about the selflessness of my mentor – who I never even met until years after completing my fellowship – and all the clinical pearls, practice management advice and time that COVD members spent with me to make me a better developmental optometrist when they didn’t even know me, it really impressed me! I joined the membership development committee, moved into the role of chair and then eventually the board of directors.
You also spent a fair amount of time as the Vision Therapist’s liaison to the Board of Directors, is that correct?
That is correct! Still one of my favorite placements ever! Talk about a committee that is well organized.
Come April of 2015, you’re in line to be the next President of COVD which is quite exciting! Can you share some of your thoughts here?
I am very excited about this great honor, obligation and opportunity. Honestly, I can’t think about it too much, as it just makes me rather nervous, however I have been trained by and witnessed some extremely great leaders during my time with COVD, so fortunately I have developed some good modeling skills! I will absolutely do my best to represent COVD, and continue to help advance the reputation and build awareness of VT in our world.
COVD’s next Annual Meeting is less than one week away. Aside from your duties as a Board Member, what do you enjoy most about the meeting?
Getting to spend time with colleagues and meeting new people from all across the globe. The sharing of knowledge and the many opportunities to create meaningful memories is an uplifting and powerful experience that I look forward to every year.
I understand that you’re also quite a tennis player and in fact, I’ve heard these last few weeks have been pretty exciting. Can you tell us about that?
Why yes, in fact my good ole Cedar Rapids USTA team won districts in Iowa City last June, then won sectionals last August in Oklahoma City, and just returned from Tucson last Sunday after getting defeated at Nationals. It was a really exciting accomplishment for our team!
Some Closing Thoughts – A great thanks to Dr. Heying for taking time out for this interview. Clearly Dr. Heying is passionate about her work and she has been, and continues to be, a wonderful contributor to the world of Developmental Optometry. Please join me in wishing Dr. Kara Heying, along with her family and staff, the absolute best! 🙂