Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Upon reading the news of the terrorist attacks in Belgium this morning I was extremely saddened by the loss of life and number of injuries reported.  Life is special and fragile. You have all chosen professions that instill hope, confidence and faith in people. 

Unfortunately, we are living in unpredictable, crazy times. Just watch the presidential debates! What keeps me grounded is when I walk around the university and see the energy our students, faculty and staff exhibit directed to learning skills necessary to make others’ lives better. Every day when I see the excitement and confidence on our students’ faces, and the professionalism of our faculty and staff, I am reminded that everything else going on around us serves as a type of background noise, designed to distract us from what we really need to be concentrating on: each other and the goals we have all set out to accomplish. These goals, which are all focused on improving others’ lives  

Many individuals attempt to derail these thoughts and ideas but frankly, as Americans and even more so as healthcare providers or soon to be providers, our focus needs to remain on education and improving the quality of those lives that are entrusted to us. 

So as you read this, please keep in your thoughts and prayers those families who have lost loved ones and those who have been injured in these cowardly attacks. While doing so, also give thanks for the freedom we have to learn and ultimately practice our professions in a free and safe environment. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

More than Meets the Eye

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged – so it’s time! 

I just got back from Atlanta where I attended the Southern Educational Congress of Optometry (known to most optometrists as SECO) where I had the honor and privilege of delivering the opening lecture of the conference – and it was A BLAST! I was part of a special session entitled, “More than Meets the Eye” where I was asked to provide my view on the future of optometry as well as optometric education.  I was followed by amazing lectures from Drs. Mike Gallaway, Clark Chang, both Salus affiliates, Vicky Vandervort from Omaha, NE, and Christina Master from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I had the opportunity to help set the tone and introduce the topics the other four doctors presented which included convergence insufficiency, visual training, closed head trauma and keratoconus. It was extremely well-received.  

The best part of all is that I had people coming up to me throughout the meeting thanking me for being such a great spokesman for Salus/PCO and optometry. They were fired up about increasing our scope of practice, especially as we as confront a nationwide shortage of primary care providers through 2025. I think what’s most important about this talk is that it helps to set the stage for Salus/PCO to once again take the lead on moving the optometric profession forward while at the same time putting some pressure on our national organizations to begin marketing our great optometric profession to qualified applicants nationwide. One of the points I made, in addition to why it’s absolutely necessary to expand optometric scope of practice to include the diagnosis and management of metabolic disorders such as diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia, was that optometric national organizations, such as the American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Optometry need to actively market the profession. Much like the nursing profession has done, they need to actively market in order to reverse the decreasing applicant pool we have been experiencing over the past decade. I see this as one of the most important challenges confronting the profession; ensuring we maintain a cohort of qualified applicants to fill the 1700+ seats we currently have nationally. If we don’t do this we risk having an applicant pool that does not provide enough qualified people to fill the seats of our 23 optometry schools. 

So here we go – I’d like to take this talk nationally as I believe expanding the optometric scope of practice as well as addressing a decreasing applicant pool are burning platforms Salus needs to take the lead in addressing! We’ve got a history of taking the lead on these types of issues; after all, we wouldn’t have diagnostic and therapeutic privileges today if it weren’t for the visionary leadership of those who came before us at PCO. I welcome your comments and support as we move this initiative forward. 

Have a great week!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy Holidays to All!

'Twas the day before Christmas when all throughout Salus not a student was stirring, not even in labs;

The faculty hung around, but by the end of the day, hoped to get home to catch some last minute shopping or football plays;

The staff settled in and then headed home to bed while visions of construction danced in their heads;

The library, the lab, and others quite near, are all on the docket to be improved next year,

All of our specialties are prepped for next year – waiting for the students to all re-appear,

As we close out this chapter in our history, we wish all a great holiday with peace and prosperity.

Happy Holidays to All! 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Reflective Holiday Season

It's amazing to me how quickly time passes. It seems like just yesterday we planned for and enjoyed the Pope's visit to Philadelphia, Veterans Day and this weekend we celebrated Thanksgiving. We now set our sights on Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza and New Years! Yikes, 2015 is almost gone and 2016 is right around the corner. With all the hubbub around all of the holidays I think it's become increasingly crucial to focus on what's really important and not just all the trappings of this time of the year. With time passing so quickly, I absolutely believe we need to make the effort to focus on the reasons many of us have made the decision to become healthcare providers and educators. Corporate America would have us all believe the most important thing to do this time of the year is to shop 'till we drop or our fingers get tired of surfing the net. I disagree. While difficult at times, it's extremely important to direct our attention and energy towards family, friends and those patients and clients we care for on a daily basis. As I've alluded to earlier, time flies by much too quickly to take any of these relationships for granted. Before you know it, family members and friends are gone off to school, jobs, etc. and our patients and clients can fall through the cracks.  

I think this is a good time of the year to reaffirm our commitment to those closest to us. Do something special for those around you - tell them how much they mean to you. Review your office or teaching procedures to ensure you're providing/teaching the most up-to-date information, update your databases with current addresses and phone numbers and most importantly, take a few extra minutes with each patient, client or others to let them know how much you really care about them. In today's busy world we seem to have forgotten about the human touch necessary to convey our feelings and thoughts. To save time, we default to texting, focusing on the electronic health record entry while in the office or email. We're forgetting how to really communicate. As time passes we will have nothing concrete to look back upon other than a record of our texts, emails and EHR entries. So, what I am saying is let's commit ourselves to a renewal in communication and caring for those around us. Life is too short to let all those wonderful relationships we have the opportunity to be part of slip through time oh too quickly. It will take some work, but the outcome will be well worth the effort in the long run!

Wishing everyone a reflective holiday season.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Veterans Day

Today marks the 240th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. Here in Philadelphia, on November 10, 1775, the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution establishing the Continental Marines. Since that time, Marines have distinguished themselves defending our freedoms. During my 33-year Navy career I had the privilege of serving with the Marine Corps for almost one-third of that time. Tomorrow we also recognize all of our veterans as we celebrate Veterans Day.  World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of World War I.  Originally designated Armistice Day by President Wilson, November 11 commemorates the armistice that began that day. In 1954 Congress changed the name to Veterans Day to recognize all veterans. 

While I was on active duty I paid little attention to the observance of the Navy and Marine Corps birthdays and Veterans Day other than to enjoy a nice social event and a day off. Now, as a retired Navy veteran I find myself thinking of these days a bit differently. I have been reflecting on how lucky we all are to have men and women who, everyday make sacrifices to ensure we continue to enjoy the freedoms we have. They do this while being held to the highest of standards, both professionally and morally. Their core values of honor, courage and commitment have been the moral and ethical compass that has guided them for 240 years. 

As healthcare professionals we have much in common with those who serve in our armed forces.  We too have made a commitment to devote our time and energies to serve others.  Most importantly, though, as healthcare professionals we also must be guided by an ethical and moral compass – one that emulates that of our Navy and Marine Corps – that of honor, courage and commitment. 

So, as we celebrate the Marine Corps Birthday today and take time to honor our veterans tomorrow (and I hope every day) I also hope that we reflect on how we can leverage our own commitment to always conduct ourselves with honor and have the courage to always do what’s right for our patients. 

If you see someone in uniform or if you know someone who is a veteran, please take the time to thank them for their service while I thank you for your service and commitment to helping others! Semper Fi!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Trust in Talks

Webster defines trust as assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something or one in which confidence is placed.  It’s something we all strive for in relationships with our patients, colleagues, friends and loved ones.  Trust is something that is earned through honesty, deeds and commitment over time. It is also something that can quickly be diminished with a dishonest act or misdeed of some type. 

As talks of a strategic alliance with the University of the Sciences progress, possibly towards an eventual merger, there appears to be many on our staff and extended alumni family who do not trust those of us in leadership positions to make the right decision for the University. Our Board of Trustees has always looked out for the best interest of the University and, compared to other University boards that I’ve had the opportunity to observe, is head and shoulders above them in terms of dedication, participation, knowledge of the University and stewardship.  As an alumnus myself, I feel a special obligation to ensure that the quality, innovative spirit and long-term legacy of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry as well as our other programs benefit from any partnership we might develop. This is first and foremost in our minds.

I want our faculty, staff, students and alumni to know and understand your Salus leadership team is absolutely committed to moving forward with our research and due diligence discussions with the University of the Sciences. We envision great opportunities for both institutions if we can work together, but we’re not going to “pull the trigger” on any deal if it will not benefit Salus. You have my firm commitment that we will not jeopardize the University’s marquee and legacy programs.  I believe our colleagues at USciences feel the same way. 

So, as we move forward with our discussions, please trust us to remain transparent in our work, to keep you informed and to make the right decisions when the time comes. As we move forward I hope that you will provide honest feedback as we progress.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Busy Week at Salus

White Coat Ceremony- Salus University

This has been an unbelievably busy and fun week at Salus. On Monday, October 12th, 327 students from our Doctor of OptometryDoctor of Audiology, Clinical Optometry, Physician AssistantOccupational Therapy and Speech-Language Pathology degree programs celebrated the first of many professional milestones – receiving their white coats in a ceremony attended by over 1500 friends, family, staff and faculty. Symbolically and in reality, the white coat represents the beginning of the transition from layperson to healthcare professional – the hard earned rite of passage into the health sciences.

Jim Hindman
Additionally, the keynote address, delivered by Mr. James Hindman, a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist and author, provided our students and their families with a personal testament to the importance of inter-professional education. Mr. Hindman, an age-related macular degeneration patient, has experienced firsthand the devastating effects of this disease and is now dedicated to using his resources to help improve the lives of others who have this disease through philanthropy and education. Each student received his book, Was Blind, But Now I See.  Mr. Hindman left us with a quote from one of his college professors that I believe all of our students will remember, "If you reach for the stars you’ll never come out with a handful of mud." 

On Friday, Danne Ventura from Essilor was on campus to present the Essilor Optometry Bowl trophy to Nicole Rist, our senior who won this prestigious academic contest for Salus/PCO during Optometry's meeting last June.  It was a fun event acknowledging not only Nicole's accomplishment but also Essilor's commitment to optometric education. 

Concurrently, during Salus Time our College of Education and Rehabilitation presented a blindness and low vision orientation and mobility workshop for the University community. I think a high point was watching our Provost and VP of Clinical Services traverse a hallway with blinders on and a cane. It's not as easy as it looks!  I think everyone walked away from that session with a new appreciation for what it must be like to not have functional vision.