Engineering a Career Change 4

Trula Davis proves that it’s never too late to change course.

Trula Davis grew up in Williamson Country and is a graduate of Franklin High School. When you ask her how she’s seen the area change since she moved here in 1976, she says “Cool Springs was a grassland. Franklin, Page and Fairview were the only high schools in Williamson County and Moore’s Lane had a gas station at the interstate and that was it!”

But change has been a constant in Davis’ life. After 20+ years as a mechanical engineer, she decided it was time to for a change and went on to become an optometrist. “I wish I could say it was a more glamorous story, but basically GE was downsizing, so I decided to take an educational layoff and went back to school to study optometry,” she says.

But Davis, 55, feels engineering was a natural progression into optometry. “In my opinion, engineering teaches you how to think, which allows you to use it as a stepping stone to several fields. People often ask me how I made the change from engineering to medical, but they are very similar if you ask me. The body is an engineering feat.” Interestingly, she compares the types of engineering to different medical studies of the human body. “There is civil engineering which is skeletal, electrical engineering which is neurological, mechanical engineering is cardiology – the heart is a pump and the arteries and veins are piping, etc.”

Davis’ most memorable experience as a mechanical engineer was where “I was given an opportunity to take a day trip on a submarine. That was fun. Engineering gave me many opportunities. When I worked for GE, I lived in Germany for a year while I turned wrenches working on F16 engines. When I worked at AEDC, I tested military engines. There were so many different situations which made it both challenging and fun.”

Davis, 55, has been a practicing optometrist for 18 years. She opened her practice in 2012. A Fellow in the American Academy of Optometry (FAAO), you can find her at Tru I Care & Associates, 3078 Maddox Way in Franklin.

The vanilla milkshake-loving optometrist offers her advice for changing careers midstream, including sharpening your business acumen. “If you do not like what you do – change. Just make sure you plan. I do wish I had taken more business classes. My challenge has been understanding the business side of running a practice.
“But I’m so glad I did it,” she says. “I love Franklin and my family is here. I am lucky both my mom and dad are still living at 90 and 87 respectively, and they’ve been married for 62 years. I have a 12-year-old son and it is a nice place to raise a family. I am very fortunate.”