Susan Tischer to retire after caring for eye patients more than 45 years in Shawnee

Tina Bridenstine
The Shawnee News-Star
Dr. John Robinson, MD, left, and Susan Tischer have worked together since 1997.

When Susan Tischer started her career in Dr. William Click's office, it was August of 1975. Now, after more than 45 years in the field, she's finally made the call to retire.

Tischer said she started out working for Dr. Click in August of 1975 and continued with him until his retirement in 1997. It was at that time, 24 years ago this month, that Dr. John Robinson, MD, whose office was originally next door to Dr. Click's, opened his new location, Robinson Eye Institute at 501 E. MacArthur.

“Dr. Robinson built this place and hired all of us from Dr. Click's place,” Tischer said. “No resumes. Just come on over.”

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Tischer said many of the patients made the switch as well, and she said there are patients and coworkers she's known more than 40 years.

Tischer works as a Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA), handling responsibilities such as taking patients to exam rooms, getting visual acuities and pressures, dilating their eyes, running any tests that are necessary, and assisting Dr. Robinson.

“I was office manager for a few years. I can't remember how many. But I enjoyed being with the patients more, so I came back to this side of it,” she said, adding that she appreciated that Dr. Robinson gives the staff opportunities to make changes like that.

“He's very patient with us. I don't know if there's any other offices like ours in town. We've got a great thing going here,” she said.

It's the people, she said time and again. That's what she's loved about the job, and also what she'll miss.

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“I remember when I worked for Dr. Click and he was getting ready to retire, and he said, 'You know, your patients just become your friends.' And I thought, 'Yeah, that's true,'” she said. “Because we get to know them.”

Tischer spoke highly of those she's worked with, several times referring to Dr. Robinson as “a very patient doctor.”

Dr. Robinson also praised Tischer for her work, saying, “You can't replace experience. The patients love her, and she already knows the answer to everything they ask … It's going to be a change when she's not here, because there's so many problems that she's able to take care of.”

“That just goes with being somewhere day to day to day,” Tischer said.

“You just don't hardly see people do this anymore, stay some place for a long time,” she said. “But we all do. We've go a great group works here together, and we all get along.”

The friendships she's made – getting to know the others in the office and watching their children and grandchildren grow up – are something she values. She said just as she's kept in touch with those of her coworkers who have retired, she plans to continue to maintain her friendships with her coworkers and patients after her own retirement.

Tischer has enjoyed her time at Dr. Robinson's office, especially the relationships she's made there and the opportunities to travel to different locations in the country to Academy to renew her certification.

But she has no worries about how the others at the Robinson Eye Institute will continue in her wake.

“The technician says, 'I'm going to have you on speed dial.' I said, 'That's fine. You can call me or text me about anything.' But they know what they're doing,” Tischer said, adding that several on the staff have been working at the office for a long time as well. “They're going to be just fine. It's just going to be different.”

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Susan Tischer is retiring after more than 40 years.

If anything, she said they might get the “Where's Susan?” questions from patients who are used to dealing with her, but she said she's the same way when she goes to the doctor, because it's normal to get used to seeing the same person for your appointments. You like it, she said, because you get to know them over time.

As for plans after retirement, she said she enjoys reading and taking walks, but she also wants to travel and do volunteer work.

“I will miss the people, but I'm going to be out in the public doing something,” she said. “Some travel, and volunteer work. And just enjoying being around the house. I love to read and take walks. It will be a whole new adventure.”

She said she especially looks forward to spending time with her family, including her husband, Mike, and sons and daughters-in-law, Dru and Kristi Tischer of Shawnee and Matt and Rachel Tischer of Eugene, Oregon.

Looking back on her career, she said, “It's been a joy. I've enjoyed every bit of it. I feel very blessed. I enjoy getting up and coming to work, and not everybody can say that.”

Tischer's last day in the office will be June 30.

She said she's received all sorts of advice from her husband and also from patients about life in retirement, ranging from “You'll hate it” to “You'll love it.”

Ultimately, though, she thinks it's time.

“I mulled it over. It's been a full year, practically, since I decided, so I think I'm making the right decision,” she said.

Her husband, Mike Tischer, who is retired from the Shawnee Fire Department, said they're both looking forward to enjoying time with family.

“She enjoys so much what she does,” her husband said. “It's really been a bittersweet thing for her, to make this decision to retire. It just comes there's a time to do it.”

But he said they're both looking forward to enjoying to having the chance to travel more.

“We're really looking forward to it,” he said. “She's been in that field for 46 years. She knows a lot of people. She grew up in the community. She's just been a model person … I'm excited about it for her. We've been married for 48 years, and it's been a great trip.”

Tina Bridenstine is a reporter for The Shawnee News-Star. She can be reached at tina.bridenstine@news-star.com or 405-214-3934. Follow her on Twitter @tbridenstine1