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portrait of Brian Privett

Brian Privett

Ophthalmologist at Iowa Eye Center

Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Biology, Chemistry, and Music

Graduated in 2003

Explain your career path

I completed medical school at the University of Missouri - Columbia and later a residency in ophthalmology at the University of Iowa. I now work in private practice at Iowa Eye Center in Cedar Rapids, IA.

What was your major at Southeast and what led you to that?

I majored in interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis on Biology, Chemistry, and Music

Why did you choose to attend Southeast?

I chose Southeast because my father was an alumni and stayed involved with the University. I am from Kennett, MO and I had many great experiences on the campus as a youth through school programs and other youth programs. I know I wanted to go to medical school and Southeast had an excellent medical school acceptance rate.

Who influenced you most during your time at Southeast?

Dr. Lilly and Dr. Gathman were excellent biology teachers. Years later in medical school I felt well-ahead of my classmates in the basics of biology and genetics. I was also heavily involved in the music department which gave me what I consider a very well-rounded education.

Share your best college memory.

I was an active member of Alpha Phi Omega which is a national service fraternity. We made serving others fun and I still believe that when you take the time to help other people, you gain much more that what you give. I made some great life-long friends in that organization.

What is the most important thing you learned while you were at Southeast?

I learned the importance of having a balanced lifestyle. There is a lot of burnout in medicine. In general, the medical community is more disconnected than ever before and working harder than ever before. Southeast taught me the value in being a part of a community, providing service to others, being a leader, and living a well-rounded life. I now have a wife and 2 kids and that balance is important to us.

Describe Southeast in three words.

Valuable personal growth

What is your greatest professional accomplishment?

I am a part owner of Iowa Eye Center. We have over 60 employees. We provide a great work environment and benefits for our employees. By focusing on our employees and our office environment, we are able to produce a higher quality product for our patients. I enjoy being a small business owner and making that kind of impact.

How did your education at Southeast prepare you for what you are doing today?

Southeast allowed me to grow my leadership skills in a way that would have been harder at a larger university. I never really considered myself a leader before attending Southeast, but my involvement in the Emerging Leaders program and my position as President of Alpha Phi Omega really increased my interest in leadership. I am now very active in leadership at my practice and the community organizations I participate in. I am currently the Chairmen of the Board of Directors for the Iowa Medical Society.

What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field?

Medicine is a great field as long as you are passionate about the type of medicine you practice. I have always found eye surgery interesting and academically challenging. People really value their vision. Many patients tell me it is their most vital sense. To be able to provide care for something so important to people is a powerful thing. Too many people choose a career path that they enjoy but the demand for the service or product is not needed. Healthcare in general is something we all need.

What do you wish you had known before graduating and entering the "real world"?

I wish I would have known how much easier it is to learn while in your 20's. I still enjoy learning new things, but I know that I am not the information vacuum that I used to be. Also, everyone in their 20's should Google exchange traded funds and compound interest.


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