In December 2020, Dr. Djabri found a silver lining in the COVID-19 pandemic: there were many vacancies and spaces available during her search to find a perfect place to open her practice. After considering about 20 locations, she found an ideal location in January 2021 that was not too close to her competition in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She is the only optometrist in her section of town east of the bridge connecting to the rest of the city. Her office serves a mostly elderly, retired population.
The small plaza is home to other medical professionals and a dry cleaner. The empty space just had walls, a floor and roof and was ready for her to make it her own. The lease was signed in early February 2021, and construction began on the 1,800 square foot space.
Dr. Djabri decided to start with one exam room; she had just graduated in May 2020 from Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry and was still completing a residency in ocular disease and primary care with the Miami VA as she began the process of opening. The space was ready by June 2021, about the same time as the completion of her residency training.
A modern exam lane was important to complete the environment. She started with an autorefractor, autolensometer, and tonometer, and shortly after opening, she added a fundus camera. Now she’s building up inventory in other areas such as expanding her optical selection to include new lines of eyewear and sunwear for the snowbird patients who will be returning to the area soon.
Dr. Djabri has big plans for the future of her business. She’s building her network with local ophthalmologists so she can co-manage and manage some conditions on her own, and she looks forward to offering dry eye care and treatments and specialty contact lens fittings as she builds that base of patients. She also has a passion for low vision that she sees as being a good match for her patient base down the road. “That’s what I love about optometry; you can do a little bit of everything,” she says. As she grows the business, she continues to supplement her work at different offices on some weekends.
As Dr. Djabri has passed her first anniversary in the space, she’s starting to see her first patients back for their second annual exam. She is loving the area she chose, and she enjoys the foot traffic in the community. “Many people here don’t drive anymore, so when they are walking by, they stop in and love to chat,” she says. “It’s really nice.”