COVD Annual Golf Tournament

On Saturday, October 17th, UIWRSO’s student chapter of COVD (College of Optometrists in Vision Development) held their annual Golf Tournament at the beautiful Silverhorn Golf Club. This event is held to raise awareness and fundraise money to offer scholarships to children who are in need of vision therapy or comprehensive binocular vision evaluations. Even though I occasionally play golf, I have never participated in this event before, but decided this was the year I attempted an 18-hole course with my classmates!

The event started early with lunch and free balls to use at the range until the actual tournament started. Every team had a group of four, and every two people were supplied with a golf cart. Everyone also received bags that included balls, tees, a towel, among other goodies to help us through the day. Once we had warmed up on the range, the tournament was ready to start! All teams were sent to different holes, so that everyone would continuously play and finish around the same time. In addition to having prizes for first, second, and third place, there were also two other prizes up for grabs: one for the player with the closest to the pin, and another for the player with the longest drive, which our teammate happened to receive! The rules for this game of golf included a “scramble” which means everyone takes a shot, but the team starts playing from the best or furthest ball on each stroke. Teams wrote down their scores and then met at the end of the day to see who won! The winner’s of this year tournament included Kyle Thaxton, Sarah Flanagan, Scott Gorton, and Dr. Mervyn Bloom with 52 strokes throughout the 18-hole course.

Besides raising money through the golf tournament itself, COVD also raised money by raffling off prizes that included everything from a TV to gift cards, to hotel rooms. I, actually won a prize this year and got a month’s membership to a gym! This raffle is one of the biggest of the year throughout our school, so it was a great time to see who won all the prizes. I have to admit that this was one of the best school events I have ever gone to. It was great having a sun-filled day with my classmates while contributing to the UIW Eye Institute Vision Therapy Clinic.

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Tour de Optometry with the ​National COVD’s President Dr. Ida Chung

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The College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) club at UIWRSO hosted the Annual Tour de Optometry and Residency Forum. COVD created the Tour de Optometry to educate and excite optometry students about behavioral and developmental vision and vision therapy. The COVD Board of Directors and some Past Presidents visit each of the schools of optometry, and the attending Board Member works with the COVD Faculty, Resident, and Student Liaisons to coordinate the Tour visit.

This year the ​National COVD’s President Dr. Ida Chung visited RSO on Wednesday March 4th to talk about her practice and how vision therapy (VT) impacted her patients. She was also glad to see her past students who are now teaching vision therapy at RSO. Dr. Maki was a student of Dr. Chung before coming to RSO as a faculty member. Following Dr. Chung, the club held a Residency Q&A with RSO faculty, Drs. Coates, Maki, Tison, and Nicklas. The students asked a lot of questions about how to get more involved with VT after graduation and why the faculty decided to pursue this path in optometry. I had a great time listening to the speakers and enjoyed some zesty Olive Garden at the same time.

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From left to right: Dr. Chung, guest speaker and COVD President, Desirae Brinkley, COVD RSO Student President.
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Student members who wore their shirts for the event!

Listening in and learning at the COVD Convention

Thank you OEP for the student travel grant!  From Left to right: Maggie Fransisco, Susan Ly, Kory Botelho, Nikolai Perez, Current OEP Resident - Sandy Tran, OD, Kelin Kushin, Optometrists Change Lives Writing Competition student winner - Katie Davis, OD.
Thank you OEP for the student travel grant! From Left to right: Maggie Fransisco, Susan Ly, Kory Botelho, Nikolai Perez, Current OEP Resident – Sandy Tran, OD, OEP Executive Director – Kelin Kushin, Optometrists Change Lives Writing Competition student winner – Katie Davis, OD.

The Optometric Extension Program (OEP) helped me travel to the 2014 COVD (College of Optometrists in Vision Development) Convention through a travel grant. I am very grateful for this opportunity because I have been interested in attending since my first year in optometry school. I know that each optometry convention that I attend has their interests and specific courses of continuing education, but what I liked most about COVD was the community’s passion to help their patients. In all the CEs and sessions that I attended, one theme resonated, how can optometrists educate parents and other health professionals about what we do, so that we can give better patient care. I really enjoyed hearing about case studies of co-management of pediatric patients with ophthalmologists and neurologists because I plan to practice progressively to give my patients holistic, inter-professional, health care. COVD focuses on many other topics, for example, below are the COVD statements; you can read more here.

COVD Mission Statement

Improving lives by advancing excellence in optometric vision therapy through education and board certification.

COVD Vision Statement

To facilitate ongoing progress in developmental vision care, advocate for wider adoption of optometric vision therapy, and increase recognition of its integral role in enhancing learning, rehabilitation, productivity, and overall quality of life.

The exhibit hall was like none that I have ever seen before! Due to the specific instruments and equipment needed to practice Vision Therapy (VT) and rehabilitation, I was able to talk to vendors who sell to this specialty and learn more about their products. As a great appreciator of technology, I was drawn to the G-lab booth because they had a stereoscope for an iPad and an app that allows for interactive vision evaluation and therapy. My good friend, Nikolai Perez, the current OEP national student liaison, was a vision therapist before attending the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, School of Optometry. He saw the potential in this instrument and purchased one at the convention. I was really glad that I was able to travel the exhibition hall with someone that has prior experience as a therapist because it contributed to my understanding of vision therapy patients and clinically working with VT equipment in preparation for my fourth year in optometry school. 

Mrs. Benoit and Mrs. Kushin at the OEP Table
Mrs. Benoit and Mrs. Kushin at the OEP Table

Kelin Kushin, Executive Director of the Optometric Extension Program Foundation, gave every student a Brock’s String. Mrs. Kushin has expanded OEP, especially within the optometry student community; she has also helped organized many events with our school, such as a Skype meeting with Dr. Susan Barry, author of Fixing My Gaze, and a Skype meeting with Mrs. Benoit, author of Jillian’s Story. It was also a great pleasure to finally meet Mrs. Robin Benoit in person at the OEP table; she is very friendly and has been conducting Skype meetings with our school for the past two years! The Brock’s String was a thoughtful gift and I was really happy because we have just learned in RSO’s Vision Therapy course the clinical uses for the Brock’s String. In fact, one of our VT professors, Dr. Yukata Maki, Chief of the Vision Therapy and Binocular Vision Service, has just received his fellowship with COVD, under the following rigorous requirements. It is a great honor and Dr. Maki is now board certified in Vision Development and Vision Therapy. The UIWRSO student COVD chapter celebrated his new achievement with a group meeting and a chocolate cake!

AOSA Activities Fair

One thing I’m really proud about our school is that our students are very involved. Although we are considered one of the newer optometry schools, the students took initiative to start their own clubs and reach out to optometry associations to start local chapters at our school. For example, our chapter of the National Optometric Student Association (NOSA) is the largest student chapter in the nation. The College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) at RSO have fundraised thousands of dollars to help a child in need of an comprehensive eye exam. SVOSH at UIWRSO, the student branch of Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH) have traveled to South America and Africa. We have over 17 student organizations and each of them bring opportunities for students to become leaders and learn more about the different niches in Optometry! Personally, I am a great supporter of the Private Practice Club, who have invited speakers from all around San Antonio, Texas, and the nation to come speak to our students about Practice management.

The American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) is one of the most active clubs at our school. Every year, AOSA conducts the first event of the fall semester, the Activities fair. The Activities Fair is the place to learn more about AOSA, its affiliated organizations, and all the different clubs that are offered for students at RSO. It is also the easiest place to sign up for organizations that interest the students.

The fair was located in UIWRSO events room, from 1:00 p.m to 3:00 p.m and featured a guest speaker, Mike Elton, a representative from HOYA.

This year, AOSA offered complimentary ice cream and multiple raffles including gift certificates, a floating trip in New Braunfels, and an iPad Air (sponsored by HOYA). Denisse Lopez and Reid Cluff, AOSA Trustee/Trustee elect. respectively, did an amazing job coordinating the event. It was a huge success and a lot of the first year optometry students were able to learn about the school’s activities, events, and student leaders.

Vision Screening at Catholic Charities Wellness and Resource Fair

IMG_9761_FotorLast weekend, six other students and I volunteered at the Catholic Charities Wellness and Resource Fair to provide vision screenings to attendees.  Student volunteers were recruited by the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) school chapter.

The fair also had volunteers from the University of the Incarnate Word Feik School of Pharmacy.  The pharmacists provided helpful items to organize medication lists, samples of pill containers, and education on differences between ingredients used by compounding pharmacies, among other things.

In addition, several other organizations provided dental screenings and products and blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol measurements.  The vision screenings provided the students opportunities to use their clinical skills in a setting outside of lab or practice hours.

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For several of the students, it was their first time performing clinical skills on a patient that was not their classmate, and it was even the first time for many to see cataracts.

Vision screenings are great opportunities to provide services to the local community, especially to many who may not get any type of eye or vision care otherwise.  I highly encourage all students, whether you’re a first year or fourth year, to volunteer at vision screenings as often as you can.  It is wonderful community service, and you can also hone your clinical skills while volunteering.