White Coat Ceremony, UIWRSO Class of 2016


When I first heard about the white coat ceremony, I didn’t give much thought about it. I vaguely remember a “fitting day” where they let us tried on the different sized white coats and asked us for our height (girls with heels). Finals were approaching and to be honest, finishing second year strong was running through my mind… After the tests were done, we had almost a week of vacation until we returned to our school for clinic training and the following day was our long awaited Clinic Induction Ceremony AKA white coat ceremony.

On the morning of the ceremony, we drove to the main campus of the University of Incarnate Word (UIW); The UIW Rosenberg School of Optometry, campus is located in the San Antonio Medical center around 10 miles away. I don’t visit here often, but that day, the campus was just gorgeous! The flowers were blooming, the colorful international flags were waving in the nice summer breeze, and the view from the UIW Skyroom’s 5th floor reflected the San Antonio skyline. San Antonio’s largest building is an observation tower called the Towers of America ; the 750-foot building looked so small from here!
When I entered the room, the UIW Eye clinic staff greeted the inductees and their guests with a pamphlet of the event and handed me my new spiffy white coat, they asked us to hold the coat in our left hands and be prepared to walk on stage for the “coating.” I stumbled in…and wow was I shocked! The entire auditorium was full! We have just less than 70 students in the second year class, but I noticed that some of my friends had more than 30 family members and friends attend the ceremony. It was huge!

Family and friends sat in the back while the inductees/students sat in front. I had the hardest time figuring out where my seat was because it wasn’t in alphabetical order; in fact it was based in height! It turns out I’m the 4th shortest student in class (since I wrote- no heels).

Dr. Fortenberry, UIWRSO Faculty and Master of Ceremony introduced the speakers and announced the interns being coated. Dr. Fortenberry did a great job keeping the program on schedule. Dr. Buzzelli, UIWRSO Dean and the opening speaker, commends the class of 2016 for their hard work. He reminded us that optometry opens doors because we have the opportunity to go anywhere we want, from the military, to private practice, to an hospital; however we must always remember that this also means that today is the day that we no longer serve ourselves, but the patients at hand. Dr. Fred Farias III, OD, FAAO, Texas Optometric Association President, sponsored the white coats for our class and reminded the audience and students about the importance of the white coat and how this will be the foundation for our lives.

Dr. Farias left the audience laughing and inspired with his speech (Darth Vader was somehow the punch line)! Lastly, Dr. Collins, UIWRSO Faculty gave the closing speech and left us some advice for clinic; be on time, wash your hands, and on a comical note: don’t forget to zip after going to the restroom. The ceremony went by so fast, the speeches, then the pictures… it is a blur to me now.

I could not have made it this far without my friends and family supporting me this whole way. Thank you all!


Final Clinical Proficiency

At UIWRSO second year interns must pass the “final clinical proficiency” at the end of the second semester, in order to move on to clinic and see patients. This almost 2 hour long test per intern has been one of the most stressful events in optometry school. I can bet that my fellow classmates have poured in about a hundred hours in lab, at night, on weekends just practicing for this single test.  So what does this one test include?

There are 3 stations and each station has a subset of clinical skills. We have 25 minutes for each station and about 5 minutes to transition from one station to the next. The second years are now waiting for the results. The skills include:

 Station 1 (25 minutes)
Case History
Visual Acuity (corrected); distance and near
Cover Test (distance and near)
EOMs (pursuits only)
Confrontation Visual Fields (finger counting)
Biomicoscopy (one eye)
– Lids, lid margins, lashes
– Bulbar conjunctiva, sclera, palpebral conjunctiva
– Lid eversion
– Iris
– Corneal scan
– Van Herrick angle estimation
– Anterior chamber evaluation

Station 2 (25 minutes)
Distance Subjective Refraction
Von Graefe Lateral phoria (near)
Von Graefe Vertical phoria (near)
Near Lateral vergence ranges
Near Vertical vergence ranges (supra/infra)


Station 3 (25 minutes)
Goldmann Applanation Tonometry (two eyes)
Gonioscopy (3 mirror, one eye)
Biomicroscopy (continued)
– Crystalline lens evaluation
– Anterior vitreous
Non-contact fundus evaluation (78 or 90; one eye)
– Posterior vitreous
– Optic nerve
– Macula
– Vascular arcades
Binocular Indirect Ophthalmoscopy (one eye)

SECO and Vision Expo

There are two big conferences that typically occur in March:  SECO and Vision Expo East.




The South Eastern Congress of Optometrists 2014 (SECO 2014) takes place from March 12 to March 16, 2014 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA.  According to their official brochure, SECO 2014 offers innovative education, compelling exhibits, and exciting social events for all levels of eyecare professionals.

Some of the benefits for optometry students include complimentary admission to the premier continuing education and Symposium Series within SECO’s OD continuing education program, Student Success Forum, Future Professionals Forum, access to the Student & Alumni Resource Center, and free networking events.  Student attendees can receive a $100 cash stipend to help offset attendance costs.

I have always wanted to attend SECO but have not been able to yet, and I have only heard great things about the conference from students who have previously attended.



The International Vision Expo & Conference in New York (Vision Expo East) takes place from March 26 to March 30, 2014 at the Javits Center.  In addition, the International Vision Expo & Conference in Las Vegas (Vision Expo West) takes place this year from September 17 to September 20, 2014 at Sands Expo & Convention Center.

According to the Vision Expo East website, Vision Expo is a weeklong celebration to introduce the world’s most fashionable eyewear and advanced equipment and technology.  Some of the benefits for optometry students include free exhibit hall registration, free continuing education, student courses and lunch, and free networking events.  International Vision Expo offers two students from each of the 23 official American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) schools of optometry a $500 travel grant to attend either Vision Expo East or Vision Expo West.

I was able to attend Vision Expo West last year in Las Vegas with a student travel grant, and I really enjoyed the experience.  It was fun getting to meet new students from other optometry schools and colleges, to test out new equipment, and to try on the latest eyewear.

I definitely recommend that all students take advantage of student travel grant opportunities.  They are a great way to attend different conferences and conventions for free or at a reduced cost.

Leadership and Entrepreneurial Pearls for Private Practice

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Guest speaker:  Dean of UIWRSO, Dr. Andrew Buzzelli.

The Private Practice Club at UIWRSO was very excited to host a lunch for their members. This was a special lunch about leadership and entrepreneurship in optometry private practice. The reason that the Private Practice Club chose to have Dr. Buzzelli speak is due to his dedication to our school and vast accomplishments in all that he does.

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Dr. Buzzelli has held many positions in all aspects of optometry prior to his position as our Dean. He taught at several accredited schools (SUNY, Georgian Court University, and Salus University) and the RSO second years have him for Peds. In 2012, the Texas Optometric Association (TOA) named Dr. Buzzelli “Educator of the year.” Professor Buzzelli is also one of only thirty-six optometrists in the world recognized as a diplomat in Binocular Vision, Perception and Pediatric Optometry” by the American Academy of Optometry. In addition to Dr. Buzzelli’s prolific teaching career, he has published an Ophthalmic Textbook and numerous papers for optometry and the military. Dr. Buzzelli also served in the military as the Assistant to the Air Force Surgeon General and eventually earned the title “Outstanding Liaison Officer of the year.” Today we have the pleasure of hearing about his “Leadership and Entrepreneurial Pearls for Private Practice.” Dr. Buzzelli served as a private practitioner specializing in “Vision Therapy, dysfunctions of Binocular Vision, Visual Information Processing disorders and Traumatic Brain Injury.” It was a great experience and an honor to hear from a man of diverse experience in the field that has proven to be valuable to the Incarnate Word and the field of optometry.

Dr. Buzzelli exposed us to the difficult situations faced in leadership roles, and revealed key characteristics that an Incarnate Word intern should follow. For example, some characteristics of leadership includes

  • photo 1Character is doing right, not being right
  • Loyal to the absent
  • Open to the brutal truth and maintains a spirit of hope
  • Ask yourself, how did I contribute to the problem
  • Cultivates an attitude of gratitude
  • Accepts that leadership is something lonely

What I took away from the meeting was that our optometry program reflects many of Dr. Buzzelli’s highlights in being a leader. During the course of the meeting, I remember previous courses that I have taken and how they have impacted me to think more about others and how to do so ethically (Read about those courses here).  I’m glad to know that this optometry program also prepares me to be a leader of leaders, with the support of our faculty and student organizations.


UIW Annual Research Week & Poster Session

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Seventh Annual Research Week at UIW (February 17 – 21, 2014) and the First Annual UIWRSO Research Poster Session (February 25, 2014)


Marian Hall!

RSO poster session
Our Research team! From left to right: Susan Ly, Denisse Lopez, Dr. Trevino, Dr. Majcher.

Denisse and I walked through rows and rows of 6’ by  4’ feet posters at the Marian Ballroom. There were also rows of chairs facing the stage were the podium stood – ready for speakers to present their research. We came early, so that we can practice presenting our research poster. It may not be a big deal to some students who had undergrad experience in research, but it was Denisse Lopez and my first time doing a research poster presentation. I’m really glad that our school offers research scholarships to students who are interested in optometric research, even if you did not have any prior experience.

We got into the Summer Fellowship Training Program (SFTP) last year and it has been such a wonderful experience. Dr. Rabin (our lovable Vision Science Professor) is also the Chair of the Research Committee. He assigned students to help with concurrent research done by staff, and/or create your own with

RSO poster session
Samantha Bohl, Dr. Mickles, and Desirae Brinkley with their Dry Eye Poster!

the help of your Principal Investigator (PI), who happens to be just one of many researching UIWRSO Faculty. Not only do you build rapport with your PI, but you also get to know your fellow student researcher really well. I highly recommended that an RSO first year join the research team, because it’s not just a one summer program, but a whole skill set that optometry school alone does not teach you. Even after the summer program, you can choose to stay involved in your research project, and present your work in national optometric conventions such as AOA, ARVO, AAO, etc.


RSO poster session
work from the School of Media and Design, UIW.
The Event Proceedings Booklet and our abstract
The Event Proceedings Booklet and our abstract

Back to the Poster session, this event was put together by the hard work of Rebecca Ohnemus, MAA, CRA, the Research Officer, of the School of Graduate Studies and Research’s Office of Research Development.  What I enjoyed was the diversity of graduate programs that UIW provides, I learned a lot from just talking to the students from different disciplines. Not only were there UIW researchers and scholars from the UIW Pharmacy, optometry, and Nursing school, but there were posters from the business and administration, Math, education, and the art, media and design graduate programs. Rebecca collected abstracts and artist’s statements describing their current and ongoing projects. The submissions were then collected and bound into a spiral notebook for attendees to take a copy. It was a great reference for attendees to find our abstract in the book!

RSO poster session
Dennis Yu and his team’s poster!

One week later, The First Annual UIWRSO Research Poster Session took place in our satellite campus, UIWRSO, Events Room 301, Tuesday, February 25th from Noon to 1pm.  Many students from RSO joined to celebrate the accomplishments of our Faculty and Intern researchers. Pizza was served, complimentary of our Dean, Dr. Buzzelli.  The posters reflect research accomplished during the Summer Fellowship Training Program as well as additional Faculty and Intern efforts.

It was thanks to the hard work of Dr. Maria Lourdes Alarcon Fortepiani, MD, PhD, our lovely, Professor at the Rosenberg School of Optometry, that this event was possible. It was a great way to let the first years know about our research experience!


RSO poster session
All RSO students were welcome to see what kind of research is being done by RSO faculty and interns!
RSO poster session
Alicia Chacon and Sean Johnson in front of their poster!