This is an interview with Matthew Hammond, Physician at Carrot Eye Center.
Where were you at 22, and how did you get to where you are today?
I was an undergrad at Utah State University working full time as an orderly at the local hospital and studying my guts out trying to get A’s . I always knew I wanted Med School. I had 2 little boys and worked to keep food on the table while doing my best in college. I applied to Med School and was accepted at George Washington School of Medicine in Washington DC. I loved my 4 years at GW. While at GW I was on a military scholarship. What an amazing place to go to Med School. I always knew I wanted to be a surgeon and once I saw eye surgery it was all over for me – love at first “sight”. I applied to Walter Reed for Ophthalmology residency and was so lucky to do my training at that amazing place. After residency and 2 more kids my family and I were sent to Louisiana – Fort Polk. I was the only Ophthalmologist on base and really learned how to rely on myself during those 2 years. Following Louisiana I was sent to Landstuhl Regional Medical center in Germany. I was so fortunate to take care of a few of America’s finest. Landstuhl was the evac hospital for all of the injuries in Iraq. This will always be the greatest honor of my professional career – being able to take care of those injured Soldiers. After my time in the Army I went into the reserves and moved to Logan, UT – back home. I started up from scratch and grew a wonderful little practice that I loved. Having been in the Army we started to get the itch to move again so we sold everything in Logan and moved to Arizona. We didn’t mind the nicer weather too. I joined a group practice that had been recently purchased by a Private Equity group. It became clear rapidly that once owned by Private Equity the focus moved from patients to money. I met Dr. Herion in this practice and we decided it was time to strike out on our own and Carrot Eye Center was born. I couldn’t be happier to practice Ophthalmology in a center that is 100% focused on our patients.
All good career stories include some aspect of “risk.” Was there a moment in your career where you felt that you were risking something, but looking back on it now, that move made all the difference?
In my career there were two big times of risk – the first joining the Army. I was scared to death when I signed on that line but looking back it was the best decision I ever made for me and my family. I didn’t need to worry about the heavy financial risk of med school and I think received the best training in the world. On top of that I got to take care of some of the best people in the world and honestly see a large part of the country and world that I never would have been able to without the Army. The second was leaving the Army and starting my own practice. It was scary and many months of not knowing if I could make the mortgage payment. It was also the best decision I could have made. It gave me the confidence to learn about business and the ability to start Carrot.
Where do you find significance in your work? What gives you the most satisfaction?
For me, It’s all about the patient that couldn’t see well that comes in after surgery and can see again. Who gets that kind of a job? I have the best job in the world. I feel that way everyday. I’m very very lucky! Happy patients:)
How do you measure success in your role? How do you know you’re succeeding?
Happy patients and a growing happy staff.
If you could offer your 22-year old self one piece of advice, what would you say?
Go for it – you won’t lose and don’t be afraid!