Roya Attarhousseini, March 2012 Student of the Month

Welcome to our newest website feature – “Optometry Student of the Month”

This feature will highlight students on a monthly basis who go above and beyond for the profession of optometry. It’s time for those hard-working leaders to be recognized for their dedicated effort and achievements.We would like to introduce our first ever winner, Roya Attarhousseini.

Name: Roya Attarhousseini
School: UIW Rosenberg School of Optometry
Graduation Year: 2013

Tell us about how you earned “Optometry Student of the Month”

I am a 3rd intern, part of the inaugural class of at the University of the Incarnate Word Rosenberg School of Optometry. I’m honored to be chosen as the first student of the month by, but now on to my bragging rights. I the co-founder and vice president of RSO Contact Lens Society, through which I have organized events where students can gain more knowledge about a possible big part of their future practice, contact lenses, as well as providing students and faculty an opportunity to get CRT certified. As a student ambassador, I regularly interact and mentor potential future students as well as participate in PR events. I have also recently been appointed as a staff writer for the university press where I regularly report on events and accomplishments pertaining to our Optometry school. I started and have successfully lead the largest optometry student organization on our campus. Also I have organized numerous events celebrating various cultures and religious occasions. I am currently on the committee that is putting together the first and only Interfaith Room at an optometry school that will serve as a one-of-a-kind shared spiritual room. All the while I have also managed to do well academically, ranking in the top tier of my class, as well as being a wife and a mother (but I haven’t received an award yet for the latter two).


Are you involved in any Optometry organizations, do you hold any special positions at school or have any other creative optometry ventures going on?

Where do I begin…….I am the co-founder and current president of the largest student organization on our campus, NOSA (national optometric student organization), co-founder and current vice president of the RSO contact lens society, Student Ambassador, Staff Writer for the UIW newspaper, local liaison for APHA (American Public Health Association), Gold Key Society Secretary and Member, member of SVOSH, member of Private Practice Club, member of the Armed Forces Optometric Society, COVD, and a Student Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry.


Can you give a few words of advice to other students out there striving to achieve certain goals while in Optometry school?

I believe the key is to definitely make goals; getting accepted is simply the beginning of the journey. Ok, so you accomplished that, now don’t just aim to get by, aim to explore and strive to succeed in all aspects and it will certainly make a noticeable and memorable effect on your time as a student and towards your future goals as a practitioner. Additionally, make sure you have a great mentor. A great mentor will definitely help you to shape your goals and direct you on how to best achieve them.


Where are you from, where did you attend undergrad?

I moved to San Antonio, TX from Tennessee. I attended undergrad at the University of Memphis.


What did you study in undergrad, and what ultimately drove you to Optometry?

I have an undergrad Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Chemistry. Post-graduation, I got married and started a family. I decided to pursue optometry because it was the perfect marriage of a professional prestigious career and a manageable domestic life.


What made you choose your school?

Ultimately I believe it was fate. At the time, I didn’t even know it existed. They recruited me, and when I went on my interview, I was given the warmest welcome. I toured the main campus and saw banners hanging from the light poles that read “The Universe is One”, which gave me a further sense of belonging.  After leaving and reflecting on my time and San Antonio and of the school, the choice was obvious.

What academic subject have you found most interesting in school thus far?

Wow, this is a tough one. Most interesting would have to be Posterior Segment/ Retina. In particular, I loved learning about the rarest things. I just hope I will get to “see” all of it one day. More importantly, I hope I recognize it when I do “see” it.


What was the most difficult class for you thus far?

Ophthalmic Optics, just because I don’t have a big interest in it.


What was the most difficult clinical skill to learn?

Scleral Depression, because it’s hard to find a willing partner to practice on.


If you’ve already started seeing patients in clinic, how did you help make the transition from student to intern? What techniques do you utilize to help develop a good rapport with the patients that you see?

Seeing patients in clinic has thus far been the highlight of my optometric education. The transition was relatively easy for me because it was easy to utilize all of the training we had received and transfer it to the clinic. I learned that overall confidence helped to build rapport quickly with the patients. Also its important to remember to care for your patient from a  “whole-person” aspect rather than just a set of eyes.


Will you be doing a residency? Why or why not? Absolutely! I feel that it is essential if one aspires to be a better clinician. Plus it has the added benefit of delaying your student loan repayment.


If you could change one thing about Optometry, what would it be?

For the benefit of not just us as future doctors, but also for our patients, I feel that optometry could serve the population best if it was not a legislated profession.


How do you feel about the legislative battles surrounding Optometry?

Since optometry is a legislated profession, I feel that if all optometrists got involved in their local, state, and federal governments, then we could easily win those battles.


Where do you see yourself practicing after graduation? Where? What type of modality? Are you more interested in research, teaching, organized Optometry, or private practice?

I haven’t decided. I came into Optometry school thinking of a general goal, but that has since changed to a degree. I’m going to keep my options open and utilize every resource to explore all of the different practice modalities before I settle into one for the long-term. Where? TEXAS! I grew up in TX and the worst thing I ever did was leave.


How will you make Optometry grow as a profession?

By getting involved politically so that all optometrists have the freedom to practice the entire scope of optometry which they were trained to do so. And by beginning what I hope will be a huge ongoing national marketing campaign stressing the importance of yearly eye health check-ups.


What are some things you feel Optometry is lacking? Any ideas to combat this?

Optometry has failed to stress the importance of getting a yearly eye health exam in addition to medical and dental check-ups as part of an overall well-being and maintenance of the US population. I strongly believe that if we effectively communicate that message and embed it into the individual lifestyle very much as how Dentists have, we can easily gain success in the legislative battles.


Are you satisfied with your decision to pursue Optometry? Or can you see yourself doing something else?

ABSOLUTELY! So I can’t see myself doing anything else.


If you had a time machine, what would you change in history and why?

Nothing, it all had to happen the way it did so that I could be where I am now.


If you could go anywhere in the world for vacation, where would you go?

It’s a toss-up between Hawaii and the Canary Islands.


If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 things, what would you bring?

Things……guess that omits people. A Swiss Army Knife (not one made in China), a gun (like every good Texan), and a satellite telephone fully charged (it is the 21st century after all).


What was your greatest achievement?

It has yet to come…….but up until now, expertly managing being a student, wife, and mom of two.


What is your biggest strength / weakness?

Strength – Determination….. Weakness – Persistence…… I realize they are both the same, the key difference is that I won’t give up even when I know I can’t win.


What interests you most outside of Optometry?

History and the study of worldwide cultures.


You can cure one eye-disease, what would you cure?

Trachoma (leading cause of preventable blindness in the world)


If you discovered/invented an ocular phenomenon or ophthalmic technique would you name it after yourself or would you name it after what it is/does? Why?

After what it does…………because a much respected professor of mine said correctly that those who name things after themselves have an ego issue. Additionally, I’d rather spare future optometry students’ brain cells by naming it after what it is/does, so they can recall it easier and know the right answer on the exam. Plus it will be more understandable for patients!

If you would like to be the next Optometry Student of the Month, or would like to nominate someone just click here.

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