There are many things we have to worry about as optometry students: midterms, clinical assessments, and, yes, even national board exams. But we all know that our education extends far beyond the material we’re getting in the classroom. A little over a year ago, SUNY College of Optometry established its Career Development Center, dedicated to help guide students in career exploration and develop personal and professional skills to be in the career situations of our choice within a few years of graduation.
The Career Development Center brought to us the Second Annual Career Symposium: Emerging Trends and Practices in Optometry, on February 10, 2013. Over 150 students, alumni, and faculty were in attendance for the event. Highlighting the morning session was the keynote address from Dr. Melvin Shipp, Dean of The Ohio State University College of Optometry and Immediate Past President of the American Public Health Association. His presentation stressed to everyone the importance of our job as primary eye care providers. He emphasized removing barriers to healthcare and actively becoming part of the healthcare team. In addition, he explained that we need to continue to educate the public on a regular basis about what we can do as optometrists, so people understand how we fit into the broader healthcare framework.
The main program was broken up into three tracks: Research and Technology, Practice and Career Development, and Policy. Sessions were given by leaders in our profession on a variety of topics, such as creating your CV, implications of healthcare reform, and how to be an entrepreneurial optometrist and incorporate the latest in technology and even social media into a practice. In addition, short presentations were given by different doctors representing various modes of practice. While each doctor explained why they liked their chosen mode the best, a common thread among all was a passion for optometry and a love of the profession. During the networking reception to conclude the symposium, all attendees were able to mingle and we were able to hear a few words from some industry representatives who sponsored the event.
It was very beneficial for students to attend the career symposium. It opened our eyes to the future of eye care, allowing us to improve our patient care today and carry with us new information to improve our practice of optometry in the years to come. It allowed students to reflect on our profession and encouraged us all to put our best foot forward when stepping into our careers after graduation. The SUNY Career Symposium and the Career Development Center will continue to be valuable assets to our community in the future.