From Entry-Level Administrator to Owner-Manager in 10 Years Thanks to a Master’s in Health Administration

James Doyle is living the dream; he’s doing exactly what he wants to be doing. He’s his own boss and the owner-manager of his own business. Since he embarked on this endeavor he’s wielded his experience and education to increase sales by over 20 percent each successive year he’s been operating. But things weren’t always like this.

About 10 years before he opened his own practice, Doyle was an enlisted member of the US Navy, qualified as a field medic. As he neared the end of his enlistment he chanced on the opportunity to take a course in ophthalmic support, which he decided to pursue as a backup plan.

With his Navy experience Doyle landed a job at a vision center when his service term was finished. Within a decade he worked his way up through different ophthalmic practices, earned an undergraduate degree followed by a master’s in healthcare administration and management, and ultimately got to where he is today.

This kind of American success story happens for a lot of people who put in the hours, get the experience, and pair it with the right education. Doyle knew this, but he says he’s still surprised how things opened up for him so quickly, “I just thought it would be another 10 years or so before I’d be in a position to open my own practice.”

We were fortunate enough to have Doyle grant us an interview. He explained how he worked his way up to where he is today, and reflected in hindsight on how such a rapid ascent to becoming a business owner was possible for him.

From a $100k Practice… To a $6.5 Million Company in No Time Flat

What started as a fall back plan became the plan. While Doyle was in the Navy stationed in Virginia he decided to take a nine-month course in opticianry. Unbeknownst to him that was the beginning of the track that would lead him to achieve his ultimate career goal.

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After managing at a vision center and then an optometric retail practice, Doyle saw that to reach his goals he needed to go to school. He wanted to aim high, so after completing a bachelor’s degree in business management he soon went on to earn his MS in Healthcare Administration and Management.

After graduating he saw results almost immediately, and credits his education for opening these doors.

“So I went from $100k – which is when I started working on my master’s – and by the time I was done with my masters I was at a $1 million practice, and when I finished my master’s I went to $3 million. And after a couple years of that, $6 million… the master’s degree really helped me, in terms of working efficiently through all of those operations.”

As he moved up managing larger and larger optometric businesses, his responsibilities and workload increased proportionately along with time management demands. During this period Doyle developed crucial experience and skills he would rely on later when he opened up his own business. He also credits his education for giving him an upper hand in these types of skills.

How a Degree in Health Administration Can Prepare You to Not Only Lead a Healthcare Business, but Actually Own One

“I’m actually living my dream. I didn’t think I’d be living my dream. I thought I’d be – it sounds corny but it’s very true – I thought I would be working at a hospital crunching numbers and improving healthcare efficiency; things like that.”

He didn’t know it at the time, but the combination of his experience and academic knowledge in ophthalmology and healthcare administration would cause things to work out better than he expected. “The two have paired very well,” he says. “The further my continuing education grew with my master’s degree, the further my managerial skills went.”

Doyle continued putting healthcare administration into practice: working long hours and learning everything he could about managing a healthcare business. Two years after earning his master’s degree he was hired as the account manager at a $6.5 million medical and ophthalmic billing company. Six months later, opportunity came knocking.

As Doyle remembers, “I was in the position to open my own practice and sort of be my own boss, which I think is most people’s ultimate dream.” He didn’t think it would happen so fast. He expected to be working in more of a numbers-crunching position, but suddenly found himself looking at an opportunity that he just couldn’t pass up.

And in many respects Doyle isdoing what he signed up for in his career. He is applying what he’s learned and experienced to his current position. As he puts it, every day he is using evidence-based management to improve efficiency, which is the reason he wanted to get into the field in the first place. The beauty is that now he gets to see the results of that improved efficiency in the form of a growing bottom line and a growing bank account that he has access to.

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He also credits his master’s degree for introducing him to strategies for gaining more clients through marketing and patient satisfaction, and for helping him to keep his eye on the numbers. That’s also something he does on a daily basis.

While managing and owning his own ophthalmic business isn’t what he originally set out to do when he decided to earn a master’s in health administration, he’ll be the first to tell you that he wouldn’t be where he is now without it.