Not many optometrists can say they made their decision to pursue a career in optometry while playing softball, but that was the case for Board-Certified Optometrist Dr. Charles Ficco.
Dr. Ficco always knew he wanted to be a doctor, but it was not until college when he was working as a pharmacy technician at Kaiser Permanente that he decided to pursue a career in optometry.
“Kaiser had a softball league,” Dr. Ficco said. “And all the different offices played each other, so I was on the softball team with a few other healthcare professionals.”
He said that of all the doctors he met through that softball league with all their different specialties, the optometrist seemed the happiest with what he did. Dr. Ficco befriended that optometrist, who went on to become a mentor for him.
“I would go into his office. He would invite me in, and I would just hang out with him and just see what he does and observe,” Dr. Ficco said. “I fell in love with it.”
When asked what he loves about being an optometrist, Dr. Ficco said he loves making people better in whatever way he can.
“If it’s just giving them a prescription that helps them see better, that’s good enough for me,” he said. “If it’s healing their corneal ulcer and giving them their vision back, that’s awesome… That I have the skills to do (that) for them and that I’m able to use (those skills) gives me satisfaction.”
When he’s not at the clinic, Dr. Ficco enjoys spending time with his fiancé, Dr. Mary Elizabeth Brice and his three children, Brooke, Jack, and Sienna.
In his spare time, Dr. Ficco also enjoys playing tennis. Recently he and Dr. Brice have started competing in a tennis league together. While Dr. Ficco only started playing tennis a few years ago, playing sports has always been an important part of his life.
“I played football in college, and I played baseball in college, so I have always been outside playing something,” he said.
Dr. Ficco spent a lot of time outside playing sports when he was a child, but he also spent a lot of time outside working on farms in the small, mostly Italian community outside of Denver, Colorado where he grew up.
“My family farmed when I was very very little, and then my grandfather passed away, so my dad sold the farm, and so as I grew older, I helped on other families’ farms around the neighborhood,” he said.
Dr. Ficco stayed in Colorado for his undergraduate studies and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Colorado College. After completing his undergraduate studies, he went on to earn his Doctor of Optometry degree from Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he received the Southern Council of Optometry’s Award for Clinical Excellence. He then went on to complete his residency training in ocular disease at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, which is one of the top-rated ocular hospitals for adult ophthalmology.
Throughout his career, Dr. Ficco developed a passion for education. He has dedicated much of his time to teaching medical students and residents, as well as facilitating continuing education for his fellow doctors. As a nationally recognized speaker, he receives invitations each year to lecture at some of the largest optometric conferences throughout the country. Additionally, he has published numerous journal articles and volunteers his time to the Georgia Optometric Association as the Vice-Chair of the Continuing Education Committee.
Dr. Ficco has come a long way from finding a mentor and ultimately a career path while playing softball to now serving as a mentor and teacher to numerous medical professionals and aspiring doctors.