Pupillary Pathways

Why I Chose a Peds/VT Residency

Posted by Amanda Dexter on Jan 19, 2016 9:00:00 AM
Amanda Dexter
Dr. Amanda K. Dexter received her optometric training at Southern California College of Optometry in Fullerton, California, where she was Class of 2010 Valedictorian. She also completed a residency in Primary Care and Ocular Disease at the Veteran's Affairs Hospital in San Diego, California. Dr. Dexter is the Manager and Program Coordinator for OptoPrep, the premiere online study resource for the NBEO Part I & II.

optoblog.pngDr. Reena Patel earned her Doctor of Optometry degree from the Southern California College of Optometry (SCCO) at Marshall B. Ketchum University. Upon graduation from SCCO, Dr. Patel went on to pursue a residency in Pediatric Optometry at State University of New York (SUNY), College of Optometry.

Once her residency was completed, Dr. Patel chose to continue her career at SUNY as assistant clinical faculty. She supervised residents in the areas of pediatrics, infant vision care, and vision therapy, including therapy for preschool aged children as well as children with special needs. She performed direct care at New York University’s Eye Clinic, located in NYU’s Student Health Center. 

Dr. Patel joined the Vision Therapy and Pediatric Vision Care faculty at SCCO in 2011. She is a full-time assistant professor with clinical and laboratory teaching responsibilities in the Vision Therapy and Pediatric services. She is an investigator with the Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group (PEDIG) and conducts research in the areas of amblyopia, strabismus, binocular vision disorders and myopia control. 

Pediatrics and vision therapy residencies are much less common than the most of the other residency programs available, so I took a few minutes to to speak with Dr. Patel to learn a little more about why she chose to take this path. 

How did you make the decision to do a residency in Pediatrics and Vision Therapy?

When I was in college, I originally wanted to be a pediatrician. However, after doing some research, I came across pediatric optometry. I further investigated this career option and absolutely fell in love with it. My passion for pediatrics and vision therapy continued to grow while I was an optometry student and when it came time to apply for residencies, I had no doubt that I wanted to specialize in this area of optometry.

How did you make the decision to do a residency in Pediatrics and Vision Therapy?

When I was in college, I originally wanted to be a pediatrician. However, after doing some research, I came across pediatric optometry. I further investigated this career option and absolutely fell in love with it. My passion for pediatrics and vision therapy continued to grow while I was an optometry student and when it came time to apply for residencies, I had no doubt that I wanted to specialize in this area of optometry.

What was a typical day like during your residency year?

The majority of my time was spent seeing patients in the pediatric and vision therapy clinics at SUNY. A couple of times a week I saw pediatric patients at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn. These patients often had systemic and ocular pathology and I would send them for in-house special testing since I was in a hospital setting. On Fridays, all the residents at SUNY participated in various programs, such as special lectures, hands on training of advanced clinical skills, or learning how to use new instrumentation. Towards the end of the year, I staffed 3rd and 4th year interns in clinic.

Do you believe that your residency was worth the extra year of training?

100% yes. Completing a residency was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

How do you feel the residency has helped you in your career so far?

It has opened lots of doors and helped me immensely with my professional growth. Throughout the residency, I had several opportunities to network and I met numerous optometrists and ophthalmologists who specialized in pediatrics and vision therapy. I was lucky enough to be given multiple job offers at the end of my residency, whereas none of these offers would have come my way had I not been residency trained. It also helped me land my current job as full time faculty at MBKU.

Would you recommend a residency in Peds/VT?

Absolutely.

Any downsides to completing a residency?

Not in my opinion. I know students are sometimes concerned about the residency stipend, but I felt it was more than enough to live on, even in New York! This is especially because you are already used to “living like a student.”

Do you have any advice for students considering a residency in Peds/VT?

Do it! The experience is truly life-changing. You gain an unbelievable amount of knowledge and have the opportunity to learn from the leaders in the profession. My advice for students is to first figure out why they want to do the residency and to also think about what they see in their professional future. Once that has been established, they should research different programs to determine which ones are best fit for them. They should contact the residency supervisors and speak to current/past residents about the programs. If possible, they should attend the residency events at the American Academy of Optometry’s Annual Meeting.

Final food for thought: I have met a handful of optometrists who never did a residency but wish they had. However, I have yet to meet a residency trained optometrist who regrets having completed one.

The Top 10 Tips for Applying for Optometry Residencies

OPTP_book1.pngWith over 200 accredited optometry residency programs available, you will need to narrow down your list of residences to apply to.

In order to do so, there are 10 tips we have identified you must cover before you get started! 

Some of the Top 10 Tips include:

  • What kind of research to pursue
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Download Top 10 Tips for Applying for Optometry Residencies

Topics: Residency, Interview