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 here. Congratulations 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!