All in the Family: The Botwins

December 23, 2015
How a first-generation doctor of optometry inspired future generations through action.
Botwin Family

Jeremy Botwin, O.D., Mark Botwin, O.D., and Jonathan Botwin O.D., practice together in Santa Fe, N.M.

Mark Botwin, O.D., didn't plan on running a family optometry practice.

Instead, Dr. Botwin spent years as a field doctor of optometry for the Indian Health Service, providing critical eye care to Native Americans at hospitals and health centers all over the far-flung West.

So you can imagine his surprise today to not only be running a large private practice in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but also to be the patriarch of a growing family practice.

Both of his sons, Jonathan Botwin, O.D., and Jeremy Botwin, O.D., practice alongside the senior Dr. Botwin. His daughter, Micayla, is expected to join the practice when she graduates from Salus University Pennsylvania College of Optometry this spring. The matriarch of the family, Freddi Botwin, oversees and manages their two locations.

Who inspired you to work in optometry?

Dr. Mark Botwin: I'm the first optometrist in my family. Since I graduated, two cousins have gone into optometry. I became interested in eyes and vision as a psychology major in college. I had some interest in children's visual perception, but I can't say there's one person who moved me in that direction.

Dr. Jonathan Botwin: My father inspired me. I saw the sort of love that he was given in the small town where we grew up. He was recognized and loved, and he had a bedside manner about him that inspired me.

Did you feel you were expected to join the family business?

Dr. Jeremy Botwin: No, not at all. I almost didn't join the practice, to be honest. I liked working in a hospital setting in my residency. I can tell you right now, I don't think I truly realized what I almost missed out on. In school, we rotated through different clinics, community health centers and hospitals. We weren't exposed to private practice.

Dr. Mark Botwin: My long-term patients ask how I convinced my children to go into optometry. I always say, "I really didn't. They chose it on their own."

What's the most challenging thing about working with your family?

Dr. Jonathan Botwin: Balancing testosterone levels and different personalities is challenging in a family practice.

Do you have any rules about keeping business talk out of family gatherings?

Dr. Jonathan Botwin: One of the rules we try to implement but that seems to never be followed is, "No business talk when we are all together for dinner."

Dr. Jeremy Botwin: By default we want to talk about it, though. We love what we do.

Can you offer any tips for having a successful family practice?

Dr. Mark Botwin: The main thing I've tried to teach my sons is to try to make a patient for life. I really take time at the end of an exam to connect with patients, beyond their visual demands. I like to get to know my patients and make that human connection. So now I have the longer-term patients and they, because they're younger, have the newer patients.

Dr. Jonathan Botwin: One of the things that's worked for us is that we divvy up the areas of practice to some degree. One person may enjoy glaucoma cases, so they are scheduled the difficult glaucoma cases. I enjoy working with patients who speak Spanish, so I see those patients. We all choose our scope of practice, and it provides a level of enjoyment without getting redundant.

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