There are many desirable qualities for individuals being considered for admission into the UMSL College of Optometry. Certainly, a solid academic record, good interpersonal communication skills, and extensive shadowing – or better yet experience – with established optometric practices are important factors. However, looking into the eyes of an applicant to try to determine why they want to be an optometrist is very important as well. Will they be the type of individual who will be very dedicated to caring about their patient’s visual and overall health? Will they take the time to serve their profession and their community? Meet David Hoel, OD (’98) who personifies these qualities and more as he continues to be a wonderful ambassador to UMSL while representing what is truly good about the profession of optometry.
His interest in optometry began during college when he explored several career options and, after shadowing several different optometrists, decided this would be an excellent career path to pursue. Upon graduation from UMSL he initially worked in a commercial setting which he soon decided was not an optimal path for his future as he relates: “I quickly decided that this type of practice wasn’t for me. A practice opportunity opened up in my home town working for an Ophthalmologist. I later had the opportunity to purchase the practice, but I really wanted something to call my own. I started ForSight Eyecare in 2003 and have enjoyed building the practice to what it is today. I am blessed to have an excellent staff and supportive wife beside me all the way, and couldn’t have accomplished it without them along with God’s guidance. It has been hard work, but very rewarding to take care of my patient’s needs and develop those relationships along the way. Probably the thing I’m most proud of during these last 14 years of growth is that I’m still small enough to care. Like the old saying goes “people don’t care what you know until they know that you care”.
He credits his education at UMSL for paving the way to a successful career in optometry although he also began to realize that this is a profession that encompasses lifelong learning: “UMSL gave me a great foundation and excellent optometric education. I really enjoyed having smaller class sizes and the one-on-one attention I had with my professors. Upon graduation, I had all the knowledge and skills required to start my career. However, I quickly learned that experience is sometimes the best teacher and I still had a lot of learning to do. In fact, the learning never really stops as things are constantly changing.” As confirmation of the fact that he has always cared about the education he received at UMSL, he is one of five alumni to date who have generously sponsored an examination room at the new Patient Care Center.
Dr. Hoel and his wife Stephanie are the proud parents of two boys, Nathan (17 years old), and Daniel (14 years old) and stay busy through their activities as he relates: “We are both actively involved in our church and I am a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Lion’s Club. Finally, we participate in our elementary school’s “Partner’s in Education” and we recently performed a cow eye dissection in our fourth-grade class!”