Southern College of Optometry (SCO) recently announced it provided $1,043,530 in uncompensated optometric care to the Memphis, Tenn., community during the 2011-2012 fiscal year. The school distributed its services through outreach programs with the optometry school and its Eye Center. Though the majority of patients received attention at the Eye Center, other services were provided through vision screenings at local schools, churches, community fairs, health programs, and school career days. In conjunction with the Shelby County School System and the Head Start program, SCO delivered vision screenings to more than 10,000 children annually.
For more outlying areas, SCO has remote area medical (RAM) trips, which send optometric physicians and students to provide vision care to Tennesseans in remote locations. Aside from the glowing educational reputation of the school, one of SCO’s major principles is service to others. After all, that is why primary health care providers enter the profession.
SCO extends its hand to patients far beyond its state. I am privileged to be a part of a student organization, SVOSH (Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity), which has given free eye exams and glasses to 190,000 patients in 14 different countries since the national organization’s start at SCO in 1975.
From an SCO student standpoint, each school administrator and professor comprehensively focuses on developing our knowledge and skills of the profession; however, just as important to the educational aspect of optometry is dedication to humanity. Through the concerted efforts of everyone in the school, SCO continues to share the gift of sight to as many citizens as possible from its neighboring schools to the far-reaches of South America.