My name is Jade McLachlin. I am in my last year of school at Grant MacEwan University and will be graduating this year with a Bachelor of Science degree. I am also the president of the Grant MacEwan Pre-Optometry Club and will be providing information on how to start a club. Starting up a club can be a real headache in the beginning since you do not know what to expect. However, no matter how bad it all seems everyone who is interested in optometry is going to be so happy that you are there.
1ST YEAR OF THE CLUB
A friend and I got together to form this club because we felt like Grant MacEwan and other universities did not provide us with enough information on what was required to get into optometry schools. We felt like we wanted to make this transition from university into optometry easier on everyone. Sara Davies and I started the club in April 2011. At first it was just Sara and I discussing what we wanted to have in a club and what we thought would create an easier transition. We looked at how other clubs in our institution were handling things and determined from them what we liked and did not like. At the start of the first semester back into school we were the only members, but then we heard of other people trying to do the same thing so we collaborated groups and came together. After we started thinking of ideas we put them to paper and created the “Grant MacEwan Pre-Optometry Club” through the student associations at Grant MacEwan.
The club eventually recruited more members and reached the 5 members mark. We then met consistently to determine what we wanted to do with the club and came up with the idea that of bringing in representatives from schools such as SCCO, NOVA, Waterloo, etc. to come present. Following that decision, we found that members also wanted to learn more about the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT). To create more interest in the OAT we had to explain what it was and made a presentation about the OAT. We also created an OAT library. To create more interest in the club and to open up the concept of what optometrists do I created a presentation for anyone who was interested about the basics of optometry. After this presentation the club grew and others became more interested in the OAT, so Sara created a PowerPoint on how to prepare and what to expect from the OAT. This presentation was highly attended and created a good standing point for the club.
2ND YEAR OF THE CLUB
After that year of school, Sara left to pursue optometry in the states and I stayed back in Canada to finish my Bachelor of Science degree. During that time I was elected president of the pre-optometry club and have been running the club since. This year has been a lot easier since I know what to expect and what our members want. This year we have had much more presenters come up to Canada to represent their schools and have had the privilege of inviting back our other club members who had left to attend optometry schools. We have also become a member with APOA (American Pre-Optometry Association) and with CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind). Both of these collaborations have provided the club with more information and better education about optometry.
RUNNING A CLUB ISN’T ALWAYS EASY
Although running a club is an excellent way to get your name out there, it is frustrating at times and very demanding. Frustrating aspects can come when your club members are not providing feedback to or not attending meetings. It is heartbreaking since you do not know if you are doing something wrong, however, in these situations you just need to remember that they are students like you and have other priorities. It is also demanding because it requires much of your time – time involved in putting together presentations, contacting individuals, creating monthly emails, etc. Although these time activities are time consuming, they are worth it since they create a more solid knowledge of optometry for yourself, and the dedication shows your members that you are doing your best to provide them with all the information they will need.
BENEFITS OF PARTICIPATING IN A CLUB
I have gained a great amount of knowledge while running this club, from pre-requirements for schools, to tips for writing the OAT, to where I may want to go to school. And even though sometimes the club gives me a headache with so much information, the one thing that makes me want to do it every day is the excitement I see in others’ faces when I talk about optometry.
- Determine what you want in your club
- Advertise your club
- Go to classrooms and present yourself and the club
- Create posters advertising meeting times
- Send out emails to your school asking them to advertise your club
- Have bake sales
- Create connections
- Contact schools from around the world and introduce yourself and the club
- Contact optometrists/ophthalmologists/opticians
- Bring in interesting speakers to talk about anything eye related
- Maintain these connections
- Determine what your members want from the club
- Learn about schools
- Pros and cons of schools
- Provide your members with easy access to OAT preparations
- Create an OAT library
- Provide your members with individuals that will interview them/review their resumes
- Most importantly create excitement about optometry
- Present about the new approval of the bionic eye in the USA
- Talk about your personal experiences with optometrist
- Present about cool new technologies/diseases/etc.
Special thanks to all of my past and present executives for making my job a whole heck of a lot easier!
- Sara Davies
- Kyle Kassian
- Samantha Sperber
- Mohammed Johma
- Ahmed Farhat
- Stefania DeFilippo
- Jamielee Halabi