Alumni Feature: Dr. William Denton
Dr. Denton is an MCO alumnus, Class of 2000. Originally from Sault Ste. Marie, MI.
He's currently settled in
Charleston, South Carolina, working at the Ralph H. Johnson VAMC, which also happens to be a 4th year
MCO externship rotation site. He continues to impact MCO with his externship instruction and mentorship.
What is your educational background? When did you graduate MCO?
I received a Chemistry degree from Evangel University (Springfield, MO) in 1996. I graduated from MCO in 2000 in the bottom 5 of my class of 27. Yes, I had over a 3.0, and yes, I learned a habit of only studying for a test until I knew I would get a “B”on it. I can’t say I’ve had any regrets.
Why did you choose to attend MCO?
In-state tuition was the deciding factor. It was also less than four hours from my childhood home, Sault Ste. Marie.
What are some fond memories you have of optometry school?
Nothing is better than receiving the news that you passed NBEO Parts I, II, and III and graduation is eminent. The hooding ceremony was very memorable. I also enjoyed most of the social events.
Tell us a little bit about your path into your current position and mode of practice.
After graduation in 2000, I chose to complete a Primary Care Residency at the WJB Dorn VAMC in Columbia, SC. During my residency, I did a ton of moonlighting in corporate practices. I also met my wife, Annette, and we were married a week after my residency was completed.
I continued doing multiple, part-time jobs for 6 months while searching for my ideal
position. September 11, 2001 was a turning point in my life, as all my opportunities
suddenly became limited. Within a few long weeks I received a call from the VA. In
December 2001, I started back at the WJB Dorn VAMC as a contract optometrist. After
doing that for almost two years, they asked me to join
full-time. I truly enjoyed building up the clinic, as most of the doctors were about the same age and experience as me. I was a student externship and residency director, and Chief of the Low Vision Clinic during this time. In 2014 I transferred to the Ralph H. Johnson VAMC in Charleston, SC to try to build up another clinic from almost scratch. Charleston - we used to vacation there, and now we live there.
What is the most rewarding part of your career?
Exploring Zion National Park
When I reached my maximum salary level at the VA, I was able to finally concentrate
on what I really wanted to do. My goal was, and still is, to be the mentor I believe
every optometry student should have. The recent shutdown due to COVID-19 has proven
again what I enjoy, examining patients, and mentoring students!
Many decisions in my work life now line up with the goal of mentoring students.
Being a jack of all trades in optometry also is a favorite of mine. Having a week that allows me to treat difficult disease, assist low vision patients to maximize their vision, fit diseasecompromised corneas with scleral lenses, and evaluate a TBI patient and prescribe yoked prism, is just where I want to be. I love “nerding up” with PubMed in the evening after experiencing a specific head-scratcher patient. It is such a real puzzle that I love to solve.
What kind of involvement do you have within the optometric community?
Optometry is a great profession! I’ve been fortunate enough to be in membership committees
for the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), the Optometric Retina Society (ORS) and
the Scleral Lens Education Society (SLS). I’ve also spent about five years on the
NBEO PAM Council, where we fine-tune the Part II exam for the following year. After
having my fill of political leadership involvement in optometry school, I’ve mainly
concentrated on building up the next generation through these committees as well as
mentoring around 15
student externs each year.
What are your interests outside of optometry?
My main hobbies were born in 2005 and 2008. Their names are Faith and Sarah. I’ve
poured into my daughters every minute possible, including teaching them math as they
are homeschooled. I also am a diehard Detroit Pistons fan. I do like other Michigan
sports; however, basketball is my passion. Another hobby I enjoy is becoming knowledgeable
about stocks. If everyone gives to their retirement, it is a person who has the
knowledge and the confidence with the stock market who will maximize the retirement amount.
The Denton Family
What are some fond memories you have of MCO?
So many!!! All of our classmates were so great, and we have so many memories from beach events to tubing the river in town. We loved the smaller class size which allowed us to become friends with all of our classmates and our professors!
If there is one thing you can say to MCO students, what would it be?
Dr. Denton with his daughters
Always treat the patient the way you would treat a family member, and advocate for your future profession to keep the care in the doctors' hands and not a third party insurance. Take control of your future, don't let what other doctors think, say or do dictate what you do with you career. Determine what you want and set a plan for how to achieve it. Don't ever settle.
If there is one thing you can say to MCO alumni, what would it be?
As a group of professionals, optometrists, in general, sometimes settle for the status quo. We hope that we will personally continue to create our own destiny and we hope that the rest of our profession can find the motivation, and determination to do the same.