Vision becomes reality for Hartzog as optometrist at Ensight Eyecare

Published 11:00 am Friday, January 5, 2024

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Dr. Andrew Hartzog had a vision of his career field as a young boy, and that vision turned into reality in adulthood when he became an optometrist with Ensight Eyecare.

A Straughn High School 2015 alumnus, Hartzog received his doctorate in Optometry from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). He worked at Ensight for several summers and officially joined the practice as a doctor on Sept. 1, 2023.

“I have loved the idea of healthcare since I was a child. As I grew, it became more and more apparent to me that I was called to the medical field. I had the opportunity to shadow and work with both Dr. (Joshua) Driver and Dr. (James) Barton when I was still in high school, and the field has absolutely captivated me ever since. I love this community, and wherever my life journey has brought me, my goal has always been to return home. It means the world to me to be trusted to care for such a vital aspect of the lives in the community that helped make me who I am,” Hartzog said.

He added that serving as an optometrist offers several strengths and weaknesses.

“Something I strive for is to make people feel seen and heard. Turning people into nothing but a list of problems to fix is a common pitfall in medicine I aim to avoid, and I feel I do successfully. My second greatest strength is that I am exceptionally stubborn when it comes to finding answers and solutions. My biggest weakness is that I can let my passion for eyes carry me away and end up talking way more about the inner workings than most people care to hear.”

Hartzog discovered a special place in his heart for children during his early days in the field.

“Pediatric optometry is incredibly rewarding and can have a lifelong impact. I also really enjoy the innovative aspects of the field, and watching eye care advance is nothing short of remarkable. I was extremely honored to have received the 2023 Good-Lite Award for Excellence in Pediatric Care. I also really enjoy other aspects of eye care such as glaucoma management, dry eye care, and cataract postoperative care,” he said.

He expressed gratitude to his fellow optometrist and colleagues.

“It has been a real pleasure working alongside Dr. Barton and the whole staff. Everyone has been more than welcoming and made me feel right at home. Dr. Barton has been a wonderful mentor to me for years and continues to be so. The staff is very pleasant to work with, and each member brings unique strengths to the practice making the whole even greater than the sum of its parts. What I appreciate most is that at Ensight, the patient comes first, always. Already in my time at the practice, I have seen staff members come in early and stay late to accomplish what needs to be done for the patients.”

According to Hartzog, an optometrist must have several skills to be successful.

“Attention to detail is the first skill that comes to mind. Eyes are small, and even minute findings can guide the method of treatment. Patience and diligence are also critical skills to develop, but both of these pale in comparison to the importance of knowing how to put yourself in other people’s shoes. Humility has to make the list as well. Knowing when to ask for help and when to get a second opinion is what separates good doctors from great doctors in my mind,” he said.

For him, building rapport with both patients and the Ensight staff is essential.

“To be trusted with arguably the most important of the senses is an incredible honor and privilege. To earn that trust, you must have a good relationship with those around you from your fellow doctors and staff to the patients themselves. Working together every day is much more enjoyable if everyone gets along.”

The support of his family, friends, and coworkers means everything to him.

“Optometry school is no joke, and I could not have made it without the help, love, and support of those around me. I will be eternally grateful to my family for lifting me up while I was preparing for National Boards. The emotional burden of three massive tests, which are the culmination of years and years of hard work, is hard to overstate,” Hartzog said.

He discussed the significance of patients communicating at their appointments.

“It is very important to get regular eye exams, even if you feel like you see well. There can be health problems that do not always affect sight, which may be discovered through an eye exam. Those can include things people would never think about such as diabetes and high blood pressure.”

Hartzog is the son of Wendy and David Godwin and has two siblings, Evan Godwin and Anna Claire Godwin.

“Having another doctor helps with scheduling and allows us to schedule more effectively and efficiently. Andrew took over and helped take care of the patients recently while I was out sick. With a goal to see patients more efficiently, he brings more pediatric training to the practice than I have. He graduated from UAB like I did and has been immersed in all their ideas. Everybody who knows Andrew knows he’s a good guy. Everybody at UAB had the same praise for him that his high school teachers did. I would never bring a doctor in I could not trust with my own family, and he has done that,” Dr. James Barton said.

Ensight Eyecare is located at 847 Western Bypass, Suite D, in Andalusia. For more information call 334-222-8561.