Have Faith in Contact Lens Education
BY JOSEPH T. BARR, OD, MS, EDITOR
I've always been taught that knowledge, combined with a desire to understand the fundamentals of a discipline or skill, leads to success. I'm certain that experience and finding a good opportunity helps, and of course, who you know can be as important as what you know. But even if you don't fall into an opportunity, you don't know anyone and you have to "grow where you're planted," the fact remains that with some fundamental knowledge and a desire to learn, you'll go a long way. I have found few, if any, optometry students in recent years who are not enthusiastic about learning a lot about contact lenses. Recently, contact lens experts Drs. Ed Bennett (known by some optometry students for the Bennett tetracurve and responsible for making our examinations nearly suicidal) and Robert Grohe visited Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry in Ft. Lauderdale. The following are some comments from Andrew S. Morgenstern and Bryan M. Rogoff, members of the class of 1999 at Nova who were present that day: They entered the room and there was a hush that silenced us all, like when the Dean's secretary comes down to summon someone up to his office. This sense of awe was for another reason; it was because we knew that today wasn't the day we had to listen, but the day we wanted to. We were amazed. Notes were taken at the same level of fury as the first day of the first year. There are several reasons why we are in the profession of optometry. One reason that became evident on this day is how much contact lenses are a part of our existence. Hydrogel or rigid, it's obvious that we enjoy fitting contact lenses. The instant gratification that a patient expresses when a contact lens works correctly is so satisfying. We are privy to one of the only health professions we know in which doctors can provide almost instantaneous resolution to most patients' chief complaints. In this day and age of automated and computerized everything, the art of evaluating a contact lens is still a learned craft. Speaking on behalf of our class, the contact lens track was probably the most interactive and enjoyable courses we experienced. Dr. Heidi Wagner, our preceptor, not only provided the education and patients from which we learned, but also put us into contact with virtually every contact lens and care system manufacturer. We warn practicing optometrists that we believe in fitting both hydrogels and rigid lenses. Are these students unique? Is their educational experience unique? I don't think so. I know all the educators in the schools and colleges of optometry pretty well. It's a small world. They are all very experienced, and some are even old enough to have used PMMA and the original soft contact lenses. The students' desire is there, the schools provide the fundamentals, and the mentors transfer their knowledge. Given the opportunity and some experience, they will do just fine.