August 2013 Optometry Student in Focus: Brady Betten

Brady Betten, a fourth year student at University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO), was recently recognized in San Diego, CA at Optometry’s Meeting for receiving this year’s Norman E. Wallis award. The award goes to the student who earns the top score among students from all 23 schools of optometry on Part I of the National Board Examinations. Betten received a full refund of the board exam fee as well as a personalized plaque from the NBEO for his achievement.

It’s no surprise that Betten is a member of many honor societies, and has been the recipient of a vast amount of scholarships and academic & clinical awards during his time at UHCO. He is an active member of Beta Kappa Sigma Optometric Honor Society, and some of his academic achievements include the Vistakon J. Pat Cummings Award and selection as the UHCO Class of 2014 Outstanding Student. He has been recognized for his extraordinary clinical skills by receiving the Clinical Letter of Excellence and Ocular Instruments Award of Excellence in 2012.

Beyond the classroom, Betten is a well-known and highly-regarded individual as well. He has helped with Special Olympics events through SVOSH at UHCO, including two vision screenings. In addition to his optometric volunteerism in Houston, Betten also selflessly aided in Special Olympics events in 2010 and 2011 in his home state of Nebraska. During his time at UHCO, he has been a member of the Fellowship of Christian Optometrists, and he has also served as the OSA Equipment Manager for the past two years. In addition to repairing equipment himself, he worked with equipment distributors to provide optometry equipment to all UHCO optometry students.

brady and wifeBetten not only gives back to the community but also to the profession. He is a proud member of AOA-PAC and is also an engaged member of the Nebraska Optometry Association, attending meetings as an optometric student. He has also served UHCO as a teaching assistant for two different lab courses during the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 semesters.

Brady Betten married his wife Alison on May 19th, 2012, after the two met during their time at a small Christian college in Seward, Nebraska. They hope to one day return to their home state, but have enjoyed their time living in Texas. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with family, friends, and his dog Walter. He also enjoys remaining active and lists running and playing basketball as some of his favorite pastimes.

The team sat down with Betten to find out more about his life and his achievements:

Q. Obviously, one of the most outstanding feats you’ve made as an optometry student is earning the top score nationally on Part I of Boards. How did you prepare for Boards? What do you think might have given you an edge? Did you prepare early? Did you try learning on more of a conceptual level during first and second year of school?

A. I would definitely say that starting early with the studying is an important part of preparing for this test. There is just so much information to cover that it is nearly impossible to just cram everything in during a short period of time. I think the fact that I started early did allow me to work towards understanding the bigger picture rather than just memorizing facts. I also spent a lot of time studying in a larger group where we would discuss questions and bounce ideas off of each other.

Q. Why do you give so much of your time and effort to the community?

A. I guess from a young age giving back was something that my parents taught me a lot about. I think they worked hard to instill that idea into my sister and myself. I would say that my time in church has also driven towards that as well. Not only the lessons I have learned while sitting in church, but just the great people that I’ve had the opportunity to be around and learn from.

Q. You have made significant achievements while at UHCO. What are you most proud of during your time in optometry school?

A. I would have to say that receiving a clinical letter of excellence was one of my proudest moments. I think it is one thing to earn good marks in the classroom, but being recognized for performance in the clinic is beyond that in my opinion, because those are the skills and procedures that we will be performing for the rest of our careers as optometrists.

Q. What are your future plans as an optometric physician? Where and in what mode of practice do you see yourself in the profession in the near and/or distant future?

brady profileA. My immediate goals included applying to and getting accepted into a residency program. I think a residency in ocular disease would be my top choice. After that, I still don’t know for sure what type of practice I would like to work in. I think I see myself either working in a specialized referral center or possibly trying to open up my own place. I guess time will tell.

Q. Do you intend to stay active in the profession once you get your optometric license?

A. Absolutely. I know that we have all heard this a thousand times, but it’s so true that optometry is a legislative profession. There is always the fight to hold on to the privileges that we already have, while working towards gaining others that we have the training to perform. I want to be a part of that, not only for myself, but also for those coming after me in the profession. Outside of activity with the legislative process, I think education is an area I would like to be active in one day too. I was actually an education major for a couple semesters during undergrad and I have just always enjoyed explaining ideas to others.

Q. Hindsight is 20/20 (sigh…). Looking back at your time at UHCO, is there anything you would do differently? Anything that first, second, or third years might be able to heed?

A. Looking back I think I would try to be more vocal and active during class. I feel that I have learned a lot during my time here, but I think that could have been enhanced by greater participation in class. Also, at times I think I got a little caught up in trying to earn good scores on exams that I neglected spending as much time as I could have with my friends.  If I could go back I think I would make a greater effort in that area as well.

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