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SUNY College of Optometry Career Symposium emphasizes emerging trends

February 14, 2013
Melvin Shipp, O.D., Dr.PH, MPH, gives his keynote address during the symposium.

Melvin Shipp, O.D., Dr.PH, MPH, gives his keynote address during the symposium.

Despite a severe snowstorm that struck the region, more than 150 optometry students, residents, alumni, faculty and others gathered at the State University of New York (SUNY) State College of Optometry Feb. 10 for the 2nd Annual Career Symposium: Emerging Trends and Practices in Optometry.

The sessions and talks at the day-long symposium, which was organized by the College’s Career Development Center, focused sharply on the theme of new developments within the optometric industry.

Attendees were urged to advocate for their profession and engage in greater collaboration with their colleagues across the health care spectrum as a way to help ensure a prominent future for the profession.

This idea was reinforced strongly by the symposium’s keynote speaker, Melvin Shipp, O.D., Dr.PH, MPH, dean of The Ohio State University College of Optometry and the immediate past president of the American Public Health Association (APHA), the first optometrist to head the preeminent organization for public health professionals in the country.

“Optometrists are part of a health care team,” Dr. Shipp said in his speech, but “unfortunately, as a young profession, optometry is not well understood.” He then implored the audience to take it upon themselves to educate and inform members of the broader healthcare community by advocating for optometry and demonstrating the value that optometrists provide for their communities.

SUNY College of Optometry President, David Heath, O.D., noted during his opening remarks that optometrist can no longer afford to think solely about optometry. Instead optometrists must integrate their work into the broader healthcare system.

Meanwhile, SUNY Vice President for Student Affairs Jeffrey Philpott, Ph.D., stressed the importance of community in his remarks at the symposium. “As you move through this day,” he said, “I would like you to be very mindful of the intersection that exists between your individual career and your professional community.”

SUNY Assistant Clinical Professor Julia Appel, O.D., talks to symposium participants during one of the sessions.

SUNY Assistant Clinical Professor Julia Appel, O.D., talks to symposium participants during one of the sessions.

The symposium’s sessions were divided into three distinct areas of focus: research and technology, practice and career development and policy. From the implications of the Affordable Care Act and sorting out the maze of professional and regulatory organizations, to providing important knowledge about establishing and promoting a practice through social media and creating a fresh CV, each session was filled with practical information that that attendees could use to help establish, and continue to develop, their careers now and into the future.

“As a first-year student it was a great opportunity to learn about different modes of practice and different things that I might want to think about as I go through my years here,” said Sandhya Ramsook. “It was a very useful experience.”

Diane Russo, O.D., a 2010 graduate of SUNY and one of the presenters at this year’s symposium, also found the experience useful for her own career development. “There was a lot of relevant information today for me and my career,” she said.

“The annual symposium is our way of demonstrating how committed we are to helping our students and alumni be successful in their careers,” said Francisco Lucio, SUNY Optometry’s Director of Career Development and Minority Enrichment who spearheaded the organization of Sunday’s Symposium.

To watch video reactions from the symposium, visit http://youtu.be/J8eom1GtCN4 and http://youtu.be/qEX6-RCMUS4.

Check out OptometryStudents.com for a firsthand perspective on the symposium at www.optometrystudents.com/2nd-annual-suny-optometry-career-symposium.

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