Member Spotlight: Dr. Wayne Ellenbecker
Volunteering to Ensure the Future of Optometry
Over his 31-year career running Ellenbecker Eye Clinic in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Dr. Wayne Ellenbecker has dedicated numerous hours and energy to the continued viability of private optometry practices, and for that he was recently awarded Optometrist of the Year by the Idaho Optometric Physicians (IOP) Association.
“It’s definitely a huge honor,” Ellenbecker says. “But when you get involved in volunteering, there is usually a need you want to fill.”
In addition to 9 years on the IOP Board and serving as IOP president in 2010, Ellenbecker served 6 years on the Idaho State Board of Optometry and was chairman in 2017. He also has been a PECAA Member since its early days and was a Regional Leader for 8 years.
Although the time spent volunteering takes him away from his practice, he says he finds a way to make it work. “You have to make time, it might be at the end of the day after work,” Ellenbecker says. “Usually it’s evening meetings, or I’ll take a day off from work to drive to a board meeting.”
Dr. Wayne Ellenbecker shares his practice with his wife Cindy, who is also an optometrist, and they job share so only one doctor needs to be working at any given time. Ellenbecker Eye Clinic employs a staff of six that includes front desk staff, technicians, and opticians.
Keeping the Industry Moving Forward
“What motivates me is the fact that this industry is constantly changing,” Ellenbecker explains. “We’re always threatened with pressure from insurers and government regulations.”
During his term as the Idaho State Board of Optometry chair, Ellenbecker successfully testified before the state house and senate committees to secure passage of single-tiered licensure legislation.
“Optometry practices are expected to do more for less, so it’s important to me to fight for this profession to keep our jobs,” he says. “Most of us are self-employed, small businesses, so we’re looking to have associations and boards help us. Otherwise our livelihood may not be the same down the line.”
Ellenbecker also volunteers for other causes. His service to the community includes providing free eye care for Vision USA and the Day of Caring Program as well as contributing to the global charity Optometry Giving Sight. His many years of working with the Idaho Health and Welfare Infant and Toddler Program resulted in the “Hero Health Award of 2005” for his service.
Ellenbecker has also sponsored local sports teams, two area high schools, and a local college for over 25 years and was awarded the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce Education A+ Award in 2012 for his contributions to local schools. Membership and volunteering in the Chamber of Commerce and Sunrise Rotary are also important to him.