Friday, June 30, 2017

Busy Summer at Salus: Week of June 30th

Students, Faculty, Residents, Staff, Alumni, Board members and Friends,

It’s amazing how quickly summer is upon us.  It wasn’t too long ago that we were complaining how cold it was in the morning. Well, this morning it felt a bit different and this weekend promises to remind everyone that summer has arrived in the northeast, with temperatures predicted to hit 90 degrees throughout the weekend. Not allowing the weather to slow us down, activities at Salus remain high.  Many of our programs meet and work throughout the summer months, which help create a vibrant, energetic campus environment throughout the year.  

This week we hosted several prospective students who are exploring whether or not they want to pursue audiology as a career. During their visit to campus these prospective students were exposed to our clinical facilities, classrooms and had the opportunity to meet and talk with both current students and faculty. They left here with a pretty good sense of the profession but also of the Salus community.   

Later today we will pause and briefly celebrate the careers of three of our colleagues who are preparing to retire from Salus and begin their next adventures. Dr. Larry McClure, Dr. Charles Wormington and Mr. Alex Anderson, who together have a combined service of almost 80 years working at the University. They will be heading off to do more great things with their lives - we wish them well!

For those of you who have been on campus these past few weeks, you probably noticed several students being led around stairwells, hallways and parking lots with their eyes covered using white canes to ensure they didn’t bump into walls or other obstacles. These folks have been part of our Department of Blind and Low Vision Studies immersive Orientation and Mobility training program. We conduct these types of classes every summer for individuals who will ultimately work with visually disabled people. I can’t think of a better way to understand how your patient feels than to experience what they are going through personally. Thanks to Dr. Perla and her staff for ensuring this unique program remains one of the top in the country. 

Finally, work at The Eye Institute is pretty much complete. The new parking lot will be open next week, if weather  permits lines can be painted this weekend.  The landscaping so far looks fantastic, with more to come, which will include trees, grass and picnic tables.  Both the outside of the building looks fantastic and so does the new signage.  

As we approach what for some will be a long Fourth of July weekend, I want to encourage everyone to take a moment or two to reflect on what this holiday represents - the founding of our great nation, the freedoms and principles under which we were established and those who have sacrificed much to ensure we all continue to enjoy those freedoms we very much take for granted today.  Be safe, have fun, come back recharged and ready to take on new challenges next week.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Optometry's Meeting: Week of June 23rd

Students, Faculty, Staff, Residents, Alumni, Board of Trustees, and Friends,

Greetings from a nice and sunny Elkins Park! Last week kind of got away from me as I was down in Washington DC attending “Optometry’s Meeting” along with many of our faculty and students.

While in DC, I had the opportunity to participate in a round table discussion addressing optometric services at the VA. The roundtable, which was held at the Capital building, was hosted by Senator John Boozman from Arkansas, who also happens to be an optometris. It was also attended by Congresswoman Julia Brownley from California; Dr. Chris Quinn, president of the American Optometric Association; Dr. Chris Wroten, from the American Optometric Association’s Federal Relations Committee; representatives from the Blinded Veteran’s Association (VA) as well as other Veteran Services Organizations (VSOs) that have very much appreciated and supported optometric services the VA has offered over the years.

During the course of the discussion, I had the opportunity to point out there are over 900 optometrists currently working within the VA medical system, noting that the VA is the largest clinical training ground from optometrists. There are approximately 1,500 optometric interns rotating in VA facilities annually and over 170 post-graduate VA optometry resident positions available for clinical training. I also stated there are three VA Optometric Research Fellowship Program sites that are training the next generation of optometric eye and vision care researchers. Most participants didn’t realize that of the 900 clinically privileged optometrists in the Veterans Health Administration, about 60 percent have faculty appointments at a school or college of optometry and are actively involved in the clinical training and education of future eye doctors.  Senator Pat Roberts from Kansas was in the room and commented on the importance that the VA brings to optometric clinical training. He also cited the need to have highly trained ODs in his rural districts.  It proved to be a very informative and worthwhile session, which garnered a great deal of support from both legislators who participated as well as from the VSO’s in the room.

A high point of this year’s Alumni and Friends Reception was honoring our 2017 Pennsylvania College of Optometry Albert Fitch Alumnus of the Year, Dr. Chris Quinn.  Dr. Dennis Lyons, the chair of our Alumni Board of Directors eloquently described Dr. Quinn’s many contributions to New Jersey optometry and the profession as a whole.  You can read more about Dr. Quinn’s numerous accomplishments hereCongratulations Chris on this award and being installed in as this year’s AOA president!  You’ve made us all very proud!  We also had the opportunity to celebrate five-year reunions for classes graduating in the “2s” and "7s”.  It really was a fun event!

In our College of Education and Rehabilitation, the Blindness and Low Vision Studies program received a $75,000 grant from the Northeast Pennsylvania Lions Service Foundation to help further assist those in need of low vision and blinds services. Congratulations to Dr. Fabiana Perla and her team for making this happen!

For those of you headed over to The Eye Institute, you will see progress on the new parking lot as well as progress on the outside of the building with new windows installed along the wall nearest the Community College. Work should be finishing up within the next week or so with a “grand opening” for the new CityLife primary care clinic just a few weeks away.  

As you begin your week, enjoy the nice weather as I understand it’s going to get hot in a few days!


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Virtual Reality Arrives on Campus: Week of June 16th

Students, Faculty, Residents, Staff, Alumni, Board members and Friends,

While we have many students and faculty on campus, others are on break, clinical rotations or in the case of staff, taking well-earned vacations.  The Elkins Park campus seem a bit quieter and less hectic than during other times of the year, while our clinical facilities appear to be as busy as ever, which is good!

This week marks a transitional week for us as our virtual reality simulation lab was finally unboxed and set up on the second floor of our south building as part of the new Clinical Procedures Lab.  I had the opportunity to be one of the first to “road test” our new teaching tool.  All I can say is, “WOW!”  After adjusting the binocular indirect ophthalmoscope, I held up the condensing lens to the model and a “real” person with a “real” eye appeared before me.  Now, I’m not going to tell you that I got a perfect image right off the bat, after all, it’s been a while since I’ve done this, but with some coaching from Dr. Scharre and our VR Magic rep, I was able to get a pretty good view of a retina with a peripheral hole as well as some other things.  The fidelity of this new teaching tool was remarkable.  It’s going to change the way we both teach and learn - I’m certain of that.  This new lab will also help to set us apart from other programs in the country.

I had the opportunity to attend a Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce panel discussion that focused on what they termed the future of higher education’s delivery model.  During the event, I had the opportunity to hear from: Dr. Steve Spinelli, president of Philadelphia University, but after July 1st, he will be the Chancellor of the combined Jefferson-Philadelphia University; Dr. Steve Klasko, CEO of Jefferson University and Health System; Dr. Joyce Russell, Dean of the Villanova School of Business; Grace Suh, Director of Education Programs at IBM; and Elizabeth Russell from Grant Thornton.  

The discussion, which was moderated by Trish Wellenbach, President and CEO of the Please Touch Museum, described a truly progressive model for graduate medical education Jefferson is currently evolving, which focuses on choosing the right student to go into medicine. It is not based on the traditional MCAT exam or performance in subjects like organic chemistry or microbiology, but rather on their ability to observe and communicate with their patients. Clearly, there are minimums standards  students still have to meet, but their goal is to educate providers who can not only embrace the information and technology that's ubiquitous in medicine today, but also have the ability to connect and communicate with their patients effectively. This clearly resonated with me as that is our goal at Salus. While we haven’t yet discussed eliminating some of the historic entrance requirements, we do pay a great deal of attention of prospective student’s ability to assimilate and process information and also how they can communicate with others.  It was a fascinating discussion, especially hearing how the experts from industry perceived this new type of model.  IBM is now interviewing candidates who may not necessary have terminal degrees, but rather they have skill sets that are germane to today’s tech sector and can also communicate effectively.  It’s an interesting concept that likely will get a great deal of attention in the near future.

Last week we also had the opportunity to participate in the annual meeting of the Northeast Association of Advisors for Health Professions, which was held in Philadelphia this year.  With over 300 undergraduate advisors attending the meeting, we had the opportunity to showcase all of our program offerings and provided a tour of Salus.  Kudos to Admissions Director Monica Maisto and her staff for providing a great overview of Salus and tours of the campus to these advisors.  

Finally, I’d like to congratulate Dr. Patrick O’Connor McManamon OD ’17 for receiving the 2017 Johnson & Johnson Vision Award of Excellence in Contact Lens Patient Care.  Dr. O’Connor McManamon will be commencing his residency in contact lens practice at The Eye Institute next month.

So far it looks like it might be a rainy weekend here so if you do go out, please try to stay dry and be careful.

To all you fathers out there, I wish you all a Happy Father’s Day! Have some fun and enjoy!

Don’t forget - Looking Out For Kids – November 11th!


Friday, June 9, 2017

First View of the New Clinical Procedures Lab: Week of June 9th

Students, Faculty, Residents, Alumni, Staff, Board members and Friends,

Finally, the rain has stopped and the sun is shining! While we always can use the rain, it’s really nice to look out the window and see our beautiful pond lined with students eating their lunch and just enjoying the serenity of the campus.  

This week started out with a bang. We hosted our Alumni Association board meeting at a hotel near Citizens Bank Park last Sunday. It started with a wonderful brunch followed by a business meeting and a very informative presentation from Ryan Hollister, the University's coordinator of Career Services and Enrollment, on the importance of employing social media in one’s practice, and doing it correctly.  He also described the new and improved Bennett Career Services Center and what the University offers to graduating students as well as alumni from all of our programs. It was extremely informative and well received. After all the “official” stuff, about 70 of us headed over to the ballpark to watch the Phillies beat the San Francisco Giants. This was a great way to end the day! 

This week we also celebrated students and faculty using our new Clinical Procedures Lab for the first time.  It was wonderful to see both groups taking advantage of the new facility as well as "Exercising" some of the great technology and equipment that's been installed there. I happened to walk through while Dr. Jeff Nyman was lecturing about gonioscopy in one corner to about eight students, displaying normal PowerPoint slides on one screen and diagrams and photos on another. While this was going on, in another section of the lab an additional faculty member was working with a student to hone their 90D fundus exam skills. It was great to overhear that particular student say how clear the image was through the brand new slit lamp!

Construction on the parking lot at The Eye Institute (TEI) is moving forward in earnest. While it’s a bit inconvenient right now, when this is completed we will have an additional 70 parking spaces and some really nice landscaping on the Spencer Street side of the building that faculty, staff, students and patients can all enjoy.  

The CityLife Neighborhood Clinics at TEI will have  a soft opening later this month with a more formal grand opening scheduled for July. We are so excited to embed a  primary care facility in The Eye Institute as well as to our East Oak Lane neighborhood. 

Earlier this week the University's President’s Council bid farewell to Dr. Larry McClure who served as our director of Institutional Research and Strategic Planning as well as our director of Financial Aid for over 40 years.  Rumor has it he started when he was just 16 years old :-). Larry will retire at the end of this month and transition to having fun and relaxing a bit. We all wish Larry the very best as he gets ready to start his new adventures.  

Finally, I’d like to remind everyone to save the 11th of November for our annual "Looking Out For Kids" charity fundraiser dinner. This year we’ll be having the event at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, located in Chestnut Hill.  I know it’s going to be a very special evening as we honor Shelly Yanoff with our Lighthouse Award.  Ms. Yanoff is the former Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY).  PCCY works to improve the lives of our region’s children by developing initiatives and advocating for quality healthcare, child care, public education and family stability.  We’re very excited about having Ms. Yanoff join us for the event. To learn more about Looking Out For Kids, visit our website. 

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Stay safe and have some fun!


Friday, June 2, 2017

Getting Ready for Orientation: Week of June 2nd

Students, Faculty, Residents, Staff, Alumni, Board members and Friends,

Now that last week’s commencement is now in the rearview mirror, we’re concentrating on finalizing plans for our upcoming orientation week, which begins August 14th. While this sounds like a long ways off, it’s just around the corner. I know that Dr. Jim Caldwell and his staff have been working feverishly to get things completed.

One huge change this year is that we’ll be conducting our White Coat ceremony right after orientation on August 17 rather than as it has traditionally been in the fall. We’ve also changed the venue - this year’s White Coat Ceremony will be held at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Verizon Hall. We are also excited about our guest speaker, Vice Admiral Forrest Faison, the Surgeon General of the Navy. VADM Faison will bring a real world view of the healthcare landscape to all of our participants which I know they will both appreciate and enjoy.

Looking back to campus, on Monday the optometry students will begin to use the new Clinical Procedures Lab (YAY!!!). We’re planning on a more formal opening ceremony sometime in the near future so be on the lookout for that.

I’d like to remind everyone that our annual Looking Out For Kids fundraiser event will be held on Saturday, November 11th at the Cricket Club in Chestnut Hill. This is the first time we're hosting the event off-campus so it will be exciting to see it take shape. Please plan on attending as I know it will be a wonderful event. Remember, Looking Out For Kids is the Salus charity that changes the lives of underprivileged children across our region by providing eye care and glasses to those in need, all free of charge.

Finally, I’d like to congratulate our newest member of the Salus Board of Trustees, Mr. Reade Fahs. I know that everyone at Salus is looking forward to working with you.