As a second year, I feel as though I have learned so much in the past eight months. One of my favorite classes so far, however, has been our Contact Lens course. This semester, we were privileged enough to have the opportunity to attend a Toric Workshop held by the STAPLE (Soft Toric and Presbyopic Lens Education) Program. This program allows students to fit toric lenses on actual patients. This was actually the first time we were working on other patients, rather than our classmates! The program introduces students to different companies’ lenses and options, including Alcon, Bausch+Lomb, CooperVision, and VISTAKON. We met the sales reps that were either from San Antonio, or a surrounding area. This was very important to me, because if we choose to stay in this area once we graduate, we already have our foot in the door with these beneficial resources.
The program started off with a nice catered dinner, which was great as we had just finished a long day of labs and classes. Patients and participating professors were also invited to the dinner portion. Coordinating the event was Mrs. Ursula Lotzkat, who also introduced a guest speaker, Dr. Sahlu Pal. Dr. Pal gave a very interesting and informative presentation about toric lenses, and provided us an insight into her life. She expressed the importance of providing information about toric lens options to patients, which I found very valuable. As doctors, we to provide an opportunity to help someone see at their very best and be sure to help them to consider all possible options!
After the presentation, the workshop began. All of the second year students were put into groups of three with a doctor to oversee our progress. We were able to fit two lenses on one patient, and then two lenses on another. It gave us the opportunity to work with a real patient, and also see the different kinds of lenses out there. The sales reps really helped us in determining the best fit and powers for the patients. The professors were extremely helpful in making sure we knew what to look for when fitting contact lenses. Patients also seemed to enjoy helping the students.
To be honest, I was very nervous going into this experience. I felt like I was going to be unable to confidently interact with a patient who I had never seen before. However, it came naturally and that just proves to me to trust my natural instincts in helping and also validated the academic experience I am getting at UIWRSO. My patient was happy, I learned so much, and now I am able to say I have already fit patients in toric lenses, a skill I plan to incorporate when I have a practice of my own!
If you would like to find out more about the STAPLE program, check out their website here: