What is wonderful about the College of Optometry is how often their graduates return to the rural areas and small towns of the Midwest and join or even launch a private practice. The initiative they take is to be rewarded, and they, in turn, are often rewarded for establishing or entering a private practice which will provide eye care services to an area in need. It is confirmation that private practice lives and thrives. Ultimately, the UMSL graduate who takes such an initiative often becomes so successful they frequently hire UMSL graduates to become associates and partners. Meet Dr. Shane Kannarr (‘00), owner of Kannarr Eye Care in Pittsburgh, Kansas, who represents an outstanding example of a successful businessman, clinician, role model, and community leader.
For Dr. Kannarr, the profession of optometry was a great decision after much time reviewing potential future career paths. “I have had several people in my family with vision issues or ocular disease. I saw the tremendous impact their optometrists have had on their lives. I wanted to find an avenue to help people. I have always enjoyed science and math, and optometry seemed to provide a great combination of both. Knowing these things about myself, I began to look at all the health professions. As I shadowed a variety of people I found getting to know my patients, having time to learn not only about their eyes, but ‘the person behind the patient.’ I found optometry provided this opportunity better than any of the other fields. As I spent time with more optometrists, I felt like this profession was a natural fit for me.”
After graduation in 2000, he worked in various practice modalities. In 2006, he was presented with the opportunity to open a Grene Vision (a large OD-MD group) office in Pittsburg, Kansas. It started part-time, but three years later he had the opportunity to purchase this practice. From that time on the practice grew tremendously and has become the definition of what a full-service optometry practice should be. “We have two locations as well as an office in a community health clinic. Our office is based in a rural setting and practices general optometry at a very diverse level. We offer a variety of vision care services, glasses, contacts, and specialty contacts. We have a busy disease clinic treating and managing glaucoma, retinal disease, dry eye, and monitoring and managing systemic issues with ocular manifestations. We provide one day post-op care for most procedures. We are actively involved with both hospitals in the county. Our practice also has a research arm in our clinic and has been principal involved with over 100 trials involving contact lens, pharma, solutions, and instrumentation.”
In fact, his practice has grown so much that he has hired two outstanding College of Optometry graduates, Dr. Chris Jacquinot (‘07), and Dr. Katie Painter (‘07). For Dr. Jacquinot, it was a natural transition. “Shane and I knew each other for some time before we started practicing together. Our children attended the same school and were actually the same age, so over the years we got to know each other very well. When the opportunity presented itself, we decided to join forces and begin practicing together. We both had very similar ideas of how we would like to practice, and the fit was perfect. Primary Optometry was the base, but becoming much more medically based was a goal that we both shared. Shane has already started down that path by joining the on-call staff at two of our local hospitals, and I soon joined. Shane had also begun work in the research field, and as I joined the practice I was able to become more familiar with this area.” For Dr. Painter, who had practiced in both Des Moines, Iowa, and Kansas City, it was a pleasant surprise. “A phone call out of the blue led me to Kannarr Eye Care. Dr. Jacquinot called me and said, ‘What are the chances you would want to come back to southeast Kansas?’ I was really excited for the opportunity to not only move back closer to family but also to join a private practice. It did not take me long to realize that this was an amazing opportunity. It was always a goal of mine to be in private practice, and the timing and circumstances were just right.”
It is very evident that this practice represents group private practice at its best. Three exceptional optometrists work together to build a successful practice, complimented by a growing friendship. According to Dr. Kannarr, “Drs. Jacquinot and Painter have provided great diversity to our practice. Each of us has interest in certain area of optometry and are able to utilize each person’s knowledge base to provide a higher level of care to our patients. It also allows us to stay abreast of current research in wider range of areas. As with any practice, we see patients with a variety of personalities. Each of us has different interests and likes, and we are able to appeal to a wider patient base. Finally, and most importantly, I have the ability to work each day with two people who I respect professionally and personally. Because of that, our practice has been able to grow in a competitive profession and ever-changing market place.” Dr. Jacquinot agrees: “I feel that Kannarr Eye Care has been beneficial to my career because it has allowed me to practice optometry to its fullest scope in our state – and it’s brought me into a practice where I can work day in and day out with two other great optometrists and friends.”
Not surprisingly, the Kannarr Eye Care team recognizes and values the importance of being very engaged within the community. According to Dr. Kannarr, “As with any business, I think involvement in the community is important. This may be even more important in rural communities. As a group, we have been very involved in many aspects of the community. We belong to a variety of service organizations, youth sports, chamber, our churches, and volunteer opportunities. Our belief is to give to the community that supports us. Not only does that represent community involvement, but it also provides us with an overall sense of satisfaction that we are giving back.”
And they all appreciate the education – especially the clinical training – that they received from the College of Optometry and credit UMSL for helping them achieve success in their chosen profession. As Dr. Painter notes: “UMSL gave me the experience and confidence to go out on my own. I felt very prepared both with knowledge and clinical experience. These last 11 years have been a wonderful journey, and I will always be continually learning.” For Dr. Kannarr, UMSL provided the foundation that allowed him to run a small business. “During the didactic portion of my training, I was provided a solid background to allow myself to begin my time in clinic. From the time I started in clinic at the school, I was exposed to a variety of patients. I think this was key in forming my comfort level to provide care in an office like ours that practices full scope optometry. I was encouraged and developed a lasting desire to continue to research and grow in areas I am interested in, not just in optometry but patient care as a whole. I also think the importance of involvement in profession outside of our practice was stressed. On my externships, I had a great opportunity to learn not only the clinical aspect of optometry, but to gain skills necessary to run a business. Two doctors stand out in my mind as really helping me be successful, Drs. (Sean) Mulqueeny and (Carmen) Castellano. I gained many of the ideas and practices I am still utilizing in the managing of our practice.” Dr. Jacquinot agrees: “I feel the single most important factor that prepared me for the real world was the clinical opportunities that I was given while at UMSL. This includes both the patient care at the local facilities as well as the external rotations during my fourth year. These real world scenarios in different locations (KCVA, Indian Health Services, local clinics in St. Louis, and the school sites) gave me the tools to handle most all cases (even the difficult ones) from the moment I started practicing on my own. It goes without saying that the facilitators and educators at UMSL had to lay the groundwork for all of that to happen, and they were second to none. From day one they made us feel at home, but also pushed us over the years to strive for excellence in the clinic and classroom.”