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Full Name: Jill Currin Autry, RPh, OD
Name of Practice: Eye Center of Texas
Setting: An optometric referral center where we provide secondary and tertiary multidisciplinary ophthalmological care
Location: 6 locations in and around Houston
Date of Birth: October 2, 1970
High School Attended: Western Harnett High School
College Attended: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Optometry School Attended: University of Houston College of Optometry
Other Education: UNC-CH School of Pharmacy

Tell us something interesting about yourself: I did one of my optometric externships at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia and fell in love with the country. My husband and I travel there often and we hope to live there, at least part-time, when we retire.

Tell us about your family: My husband and I were born in the same hospital, one week apart. We grew up in different counties, however, not meeting until age 18. We have been married for 22 years. We have two sons, Cooper (13) and Bowman (12). They were born 10 1/2 months apart. That, of course, was not planned….. My husband was educated as an engineer and practiced for 15 years before selling his business. He then purchased Tropical CE which provides optometric education in exotic locations around the world. We love to travel and we love taking people with us!

Tell us about your parent’s occupations: My father was a machinist for the local tire plant and my mother was a first-grade teacher.

Why did you choose optometry as a career? I was a hospital pharmacist and wanted more authority to manage and care for my own patients. I was tired of making recommendations that were disregarded by physicians because they had the prescribing authority. I researched various professional paths including medicine, dental, PA, etc. and optometry seemed like a good fit. I also love that I have been able to continue using my pharmacy background through lecturing.

What aspects of your professional life do you find most rewarding? Being a liaison between the community ODs and the ophthalmology world. Having them trust me with their patients is the most rewarding part of my job.

What aspects of your professional life do you find least rewarding? I am very driven and I find it difficult to deal with personnel that do not have the same work ethic.

How did you end up working where you are now? I was scheduled to return to NC for my final two externships but Australia changed the lineup so I ended up in Houston for my final rotation at Eye Center of Texas. They were starting a residency program and asked me to be their first resident. I did the residency (ocular disease and surgical co-management) and stayed as an associate afterward. I made partner seven years later.

What professional conferences do you like best? SECO, Tropical CE?

Have you ever used a practice management consultant? No.

What advice do you have for young people considering optometry as a career? Spend time with optometrists in varying modes of practice to make sure you are making the right decision. Just knowing you like your hometown optometrist is not enough to be sure you are choosing wisely.

Please conclude by writing about anything you want people to know about you. I am somewhat obsessive-compulsive but I hope I channel it well! I am totally a morning person! I believe in early to bed, early to rise… I love my job and take it very seriously. I also love projects! Some of my projects revolve around work, but I spend a lot of time preparing lectures, gardening, exercising, decorating, and traveling. I don’t watch much TV (fortunately) or read for pleasure (unfortunately). These days, I am also getting really good at preparing for sixth and seventh-grade tests!

Jill Autry
Dr. Autry received her pharmacy degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She practiced in critical care before returning for her optometry degree at the University of Houston.  Following graduation, she performed a residency in ocular disease and surgical comanagement at the Eye Center of Texas ophthalmology center where she is a partner today. Dr. Autry lectures nationally and internationally on a variety of pharmaceutical and ocular disease topics and has authored numerous articles for both optometric and pharmaceutical journals.