Thursday, September 17, 2009

"..Like a puzzle"

I got to shadow another optometrist this morning. Once again, the experience was a pleasant one. This optometric practice is located in Huntington Beach. When I first walked in, I immediately noticed the decor, furniture, and setting of the place. I was greeted by a friendly receptionist, who told me to wait while the optometrist came in (I was half an hour early).
The carpet had a circular pattern on it. I stared at it for a while, thinking about the shape of the human eye. Later, in the examination room, I saw a poster detailing the anatomy of the eye and I realized that the carpet reminded me of an abstract image of the eye. The pattern was a circle with many other circles contained within it (or maybe it was just two circles intertwined within each other).
I don't think the optometric practice had intended anything by using that particular pattern other than the fact that it was a beautiful design and fit well with the rest of the decor. The chairs were comfy and on the other side I could see a display of eye glasses.
I looked around at the walls of the waiting room. I saw that the owner of this practice graduated from UCBCO (University of California Berkeley College of Optometry). The optometrist I was shadowing was actually an employee of the owner. The owner optometrist does not work on Thursdays. On the window outside, he had the letters O.D. and F.A.A.O. written after his name. I know O.D. stands for Optometry Doctor, but I wasn't sure about the F.A.A.O.  I later asked Dr. W.Y. (the optometrist I was shadowing) and he told me it stood for Fellow of the American Academy of Optometrists. Mental note: I need to do some research on that.

It took a while before Dr. W.Y. came so I continued to stare around the room. I saw a pamphlet about 'optomap', a new technology that takes the picture of the inside of one's eye. I made a mental note to ask Dr. W.Y. about it. I also noticed that the place had a large staff. There were two receptionists, two opticians, and another lady that came from inside somewhere, but I don't know who she was. I made another mental note to ask this.

After some time, Dr. W.Y. finally showed up and gave me a tour of the place. There was a room where the opticians did preliminary tests on the patients. In there, I saw the 'optomap' machine. I immediately asked the optometrist and he said he would tell me about it when we got inside. There were two examination rooms, another room which he chose not to talk about (and I didn't ask), and an office. There was also a lab, but he did not take me there. We got inside the room and he sat down with me and we talked for a little.

The 'optomap' machine takes the image of the retina in a short amount of time. The advantages of 'optomap' are that the eyes do not need to be dilated and it takes a larger image of the back of the eye. Dr. W.Y. showed me an image and I was very impressed. He also asked to me about which schools I would apply to and recommended that I apply for the schools that have been established for some time. (He was implicitly referring to Western College of Optometry, which started its program this Fall of 2009).
We moved on to discuss the large staff. He said that they always hire for the busiest days and that's why there were so many people working. He then took me outside and told me to wait so he could ask the patients if they were alright with someone observing in the examination room. I liked that he did not ask them with me standing there. This way the patient could be honest about not wanting someone observing and not feel pressured into accepting the offer. Luckily, both patients agreed. I watched the optometrist as he went through the routine examinations. I later told Dr. W.Y. that his exams were comprehensive and I really liked that.

Afterward, the optometrist and I had a brief fifteen minute chat about more questions I had. I asked him about job opportunities after graduation from optometry school. He said there are many options available, but recently there are fewer jobs offered because of the economy. He also said that the hardest part about finding a job is finding one that allows you to work every day. Some practices offer work on Mondays and Thursdays and others might offer Mondays and Wednesdays. So, the task of the employee is to find jobs and try to fit everything in their schedule, like a  puzzle. Other than that, he said there are options for optometrists to work for schools or at government-owned hospitals. After our discussion, I left the office feeling content about the experience.


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