All in the family: The Castellanos

April 26, 2016
Advice on working with family? Be connected, be yourself, be a sponge.
Left to right: Joseph Castellano, O.D., Carmen Castellano, O.D., Nick Castellano
Left to right: Joseph Castellano, O.D.,
Carmen Castellano, O.D., Nick Castellano

Like other optometry students graduating soon across the country, Nick Castellano will receive his doctor of optometry degree in May when he graduates from the University of Missouri-St. Louis School of Optometry. Among those in attendance will be his proud father and big brother, Carmen Castellano, O.D., and Joseph Castellano, O.D, respectively.

That adds up to three Castellanos under one roof at The Koetting Associates in St. Louis, Missouri. The family affair began in 1982 when Dr. Carmen Castellano graduated from optometry school and immediately joined family-owned Koetting Associates. Four years later, he purchased the practice and later bought out his partners. He has been the sole owner since.

"When we were young, occasionally we would go to the office to help with odds and ends," says Dr. Joseph Castellano who joined the practice in 2011. "Once we were in college, we would work over the summers as technicians. That's where we really started to understand how the office operates."

Who inspired you to work in optometry?

Nick Castellano:My inspiration to work in the health care industry came from my father and my mother, who is a registered nurse. Choosing optometry was easy because I knew it was a great field after growing up and seeing firsthand how passionate my father was for his work.

Dr. Joseph Castellano: It was obvious that my father always enjoyed what he did and was able to maintain a work-life balance.

Dr. Carmen Castellano: I knew I wanted to become involved in health care and a family friend who was an optometrist encouraged me to consider optometry.

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

Nick Castellano: My parents always preached to find an honest career that we are passionate about.       

Dr. Joseph Castellano: My parents were good about encouraging us to create our own paths. However, because we were so familiar with the field, optometry seemed to be a natural choice.

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

Nick Castellano: From my little experience with this so far, the best thing is having two people I have spent my life looking up to there to help push me to continue to learn and grow, while offering advice along the way. The biggest challenge is understanding that all three of us will very rarely have the opportunity to take time away from the office together.

Dr. Joseph Castellano: The best thing about working with your family is that you get to spend time with them every day. We have fun, yet we still stay focused and motivate each other. The most challenging thing is when everyone needs to be away from the office for a family event. It is difficult for us all to be off work on the same day.

Dr. Carmen Castellano: The best thing is knowing I have another set or sets of eyes in the office that care as much about the practice's well-being as I do. The biggest challenge is figuring out how to staff and manage the office when a family event necessitates all of us being present.

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

Nick Castellano: Communicate and set goals together.

Dr. Joseph Castellano: Let each family member be who they are. Everyone has their own unique personality and it is important to try not to change that. As long as everyone has the same goal in mind and is willing to do what it takes to achieve that goal, it will work.

Dr. Carmen Castellano: Be willing to always listen to each other and be respectful of one another's opinions. I've been practicing with my oldest son for nearly five years and I am pretty sure I have learned as much from him as he has from me. I'm sure that will continue to be the case when my younger son joins us as well.

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