Name: Rakesh Lakhani
School: Inter American University of Puerto Rico
1. Congrats on winning Student of the Month! – Please tell us exactly why you won student of them month?
Thanks a lot! Ever since I started optometry school, I’ve tried to be involved as much as I can. I joined the orientation committee early on and became vice president in order to assist first year students adapt to optometry school life. I was also a tutor for optics and primary eye care courses/labs. With my interest in clinical science, I recently became IAUPR’s American Academy of Optometry (AAO) student liaison! As someone who strongly believes in helping others, I have done my best to give back to my school and fellow classmates.
2. Can you give a few words of advice to other students out there striving to achieve certain goals while in Optometry school?
Don’t give up! The path to obtaining your OD degree is a long and difficult one! The biggest thing I’ve learned is ASK FOR HELP! The 3rd and 4th years, professors, clinicians, and admin staff will be willing to help you out. They know what you’re going through! But also while your busting your behind studying, be sure to relax and enjoy yourself! You won’t get these 4 years back!
3. Where are you from, where did you attend undergrad? I was born in London, England but moved to Austin, TX during 4th grade. I attended the University of Texas at Austin. HOOK EM’ HORNS!
4. What did you study in undergrad, and what ultimately drove you to Optometry? I got my bachelor’s in Psychology. I’ve been interested in Optometry since I was 16. I can remember having my eye exam and how amazed I was by it all! I can appreciate the work Optometrists provide for society, as I’m a 9D myope myself!
5. What made you choose your school? IAUPR has offered me a place to truly thrive in optometry. Being in Puerto Rico, the students encounter pathology on a routine basis. With an English-Spanish program, I am now able to perform a comprehensive eye exam in both languages. Also, the school facilities are beautiful, as it was rebuilt just a few years ago! Lastly, the students and staff make the school…hands down. Having a strong support system helps!
6. Are you involved in any Optometry organizations, do you hold any special positions at school or have any other creative optometry ventures going on? Currently I am a primary eye care lab assistant. This is great as I get to constantly engage the 1st and 2nd years as they learn their fundamental skills. I have become involved with the Academy and became the school’s student liaison. I hope to see some of you in Phoenix for AAO.
7. What academic subject have you found most interesting in school thus far? There are many to choose from! But I have to go with Ocular Therapeutics.
8. What was the most difficult class for you thus far? Clinical Medicine…it felt like the information was never ending. In essence, it’s a lot.
9. What was the most difficult clinical skill to learn? Gonioscopy…not only performing it but know what you’re looking at, however practice makes perfect.
10. 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? During the summer before clinic started, I worked in an office where the optometrist let me perform part of the exam to build my confidence. I also attended the AOA meeting in Chicago, so I was able to learn some things from really great doctors. I believe in being yourself with your patients. It’s the small things that count. Have a good first impression, make them laugh and smile, and most importantly LISTEN to your patient!!!
11. Will you be doing a residency? Why or why not? I’m thinking about Ocular Disease or Contact Lens. The clinical experiences gained from a residency program is definitely enticing. I also plan on doing my fellowship with the AAO, so doing a residency fits nicely into that process.
12. If you could change one thing about Optometry, what would it be? The public perception that optometrists only prescribe glasses. We are much more than that, and we shouldn’t let anyone undermine our abilities as primary care physicians.
13. How do you feel about the legislative battles surrounding Optometry? It’s sad as there are many issues facing ODs today. For example, here in PR, optometrists aren’t allowed to use TPAs/DPAs and the ongoing resistance to get it overturned can be frustrating. Also constant battles with insurance reimbursements, status as ODs, and student loans can be hard. I know we have bright colleagues (like those in AOA-PAC) who will stand up for optometrists and the values we stand for, so to that I say thank you!
14. 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? Who knows where I could end up! I would like to settle in Texas, but I’m open to opportunities elsewhere. A group practice would be ideal. Down the line, I would love to work with an Optometry school as a way of “giving back.” There have been so many remarkable people that helped me on this path, so I would love to do the same for others.
15. How will you make Optometry grow as a profession? I plan to keep all my memberships active with my organizations after I graduate. I will actively volunteer my time to see the advancement of our profession.
16. What are some things you feel Optometry is lacking? Any ideas to combat this? I find it hard to believe that there is no national governing body in optometry. Each state has association that sets the regulations of their state. So optometrists across the country may not be practicing to their fullest potential. Why not nationalize it so all ODs can provide the best care possible, no matter where they practice?
17. Are you satisfied with your decision to pursue Optometry? Or can you see yourself doing something else? Absolutely. I wouldn’t have it any other way! If I had to pick something else, I would be a chef, I love food too much.
18. If you had a time machine, what would you change in history and why? I would prevent the holocaust. Such a tragedy shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
19. If you could go anywhere in the world for vacation, where would you go? Greece….love the Mediterranean!
20. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 things, what would you bring? My iPod touch, a Swiss army knife, and a beach towel.
21. What was your greatest achievement? Graduating undergrad and getting accepted to optometry school.
22. What is your biggest strength / weakness? I try and go out of my way to help others….however that can also be my weakness…I don’t lookout for myself at times.
23. What interests you most outside of Optometry? Traveling and trying new foods (especially FOOD TRUCKS)
24. You can cure one eye-disease, what would you cure? Glaucoma…There are too many people affected by this disease and will ultimately lead to blindness if not managed.
25. Would you rather be 5D Hyperopic or 6D Myopic? Why? I’ve been a myope my whole life, so let me try being a hyperope..I would like to see clearly at distance and near…until I become presbyopic.
26. 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? I think having a new technique named after me would be cool. It would be a honor to be recognized for years to come, even if the students learning it hate me for it!