For the last three years, patients at Eye-Q Vision Care had to specify which Dr. Shute they were referencing, the “older” or the “younger”.
Dr. Steven Shute O.D. the optometrist, and his son Dr. Thomas Shute M.D. the ophthalmologist and cataract and glaucoma specialist, have worked together at Eye-Q Vision Care since 2019.
On Friday December 30th, Dr. Steven Shute’s small office at the Eye-Q facility at Clovis Community Medical Center was packed with his children and grandchildren to celebrate his retirement after a career of 48 years in optometry in Clovis.
His staff stopped by the open door to say goodbye and express their appreciation for Dr. Shute, one even referred to him as the Greatest Of All Time, the G.O.A.T.
“I feel like a goat,” Dr. Shute said, “the other kind of goat!”
The Shute family legacy of eye care began with Dr. Sidney F. Shute’s practice in Fresno in 1926, and continues four generations later with ophthalmologist and glaucoma specialist, Dr. Thomas Shute M.D.
Dr. Steven Shute says it began when his father Dr. Sidney A. Shute, went away to fight in WWII.
“When he came back his dad had gone into optometry,” he said, “My grandfather went to optometry school for a year and a half, and when my dad came back he said well that looks like a pretty fun job that’s what I’m going to do.”
By the time Dr. Steven Shute got to working age, education for work in the medical field had grown quite a bit.
He was in high school, working hot summers at the Smittcamp packing shed, while his father was practicing out of the office on Pollasky and 3rd Street.
“I thought of my dad sitting in that air-conditioned office”, Dr. Shute said, “So by the summer of my sophomore year of high school I said I was going to go be an optometrist, and I told my dad that, he said, ‘No, it’s too much school, do something else’.”
Dr. Thomas Shute said that becoming the fourth generation of eye care professionals was a kind of coincidence, but he grew up hearing his father and grandfather talk about eyes and he was familiar with the equipment in the Old Town Clovis office.
He described his educational journey, explaining that he didn’t want to go into the medical field at first, but a college biology course caught his interest immediately.
He went to UC San Diego intending to study biochemistry, and ended up choosing to apply for medical school, but not for anything relating to eyes.
“I didn’t want to do eyes because everyone in my family for the last three generations had done eye stuff,” he said, “I waited until my very last year of medical school and I took this rotation in ophthalmology and it just clicked. I stopped denying it.”
As for how he ended up back in Clovis where his grandfather started the family practice, Dr. Thomas Shute said that it was a mixture of recognizing the need for doctors in the area, and familiarity.
“I spent a lot of time away from the valley and I always felt a strong pull to come back because my family’s been here for a hundred years.”
For the last few years at Eye-Q, patients would have to clarify which Dr. Shute they were seeing.
In 2019 Eye-Q bought Dr. Steven Shute’s practice and he moved from the Pollasky Avenue and Third Street office, where he has treated patients for 45 years, to a medical center with a larger staff and many more patients.
The office in Old Town Clovis was a house, Dr. Shute maintained the feeling of home intentionally.
Dr. Sidney A. Shute lived and slept there, in a bedroom that later became the room where patients chose frames for their prescriptions.
“The bathroom that all the patients used is like a bathroom of any house in Old Town Clovis,” Dr. Thomas Shute said, “They turned the living room into the waiting room and a couple of the bedrooms were the exam rooms.”
In that office, around 16 patients a day were seen, and the waiting room could only host 2 or 3 patients at a time.
Dr. Thomas Shute says that’s a very different experience from visiting modern optometrists and other eye care specialists.
“I’m kind of jealous of him, in a way,” Dr. Thomas Shute said, “medicine nowadays is a different beast than it was when he started, and he always kept that small town doc feel– he’s your doctor and your friend.”
But, Dr. Steven Shute says the change in location didn’t change his manner of work. When he made the change to the Eye-Q facility, Dr. Shute said, “I had a schedule I could work with, and these are all the same patients I had in my own office so we already had a relationship. I treated everyone the same.”
That treatment included getting to know his patients and their families. Dr. Steven Shute said he became very close with his patients over the years, and that’s the nature of caring for a community for so long.
“I have a huge history with Clovis in that big computer in my brain and it’s amazing to me what I remember about that kind of stuff and how Clovis was built and how little it was when I got here,” Dr. Steven Shute Said, “I had a girl in here last week that was pregnant with her first child, and I knew that girl when her mother was pregnant with her.”
When Eye-Q acquired Dr. Steven Shute’s practice in 2019, he was able to plan more smoothly for retirement.
He can easily pass his patients along to another trusted physician, and Dr. Shute expressed his gratitude to Eye-Q for making that possible for him.
As for what he plans to do with his retirement, Dr. Shute was adamant that he will not be golfing. “I’ll find stuff to do, because I can’t just sit, but I don’t play golf because it’s too slow.”
He added that he plans to sort through the old office and make it available for sale, and meanwhile his patients will be well taken care of by Dr. Joann Adams.