There are many aspects of optometry that help fulfill my spirit and drive my passion forward. At the forefront of this is patient care and running our practice here in Los Altos. Every patient exam serves as a constant reminder of why I get out of bed every morning.
Optometry, just like any other industry, is an ever-evolving field. In order to achieve growth and better serve our patients we need to look to the future. While new technology and techniques are always being sought out in the exam room, influencing future practitioners also carries an immense amount of weight for the profession.
As a seasoned optometrist, I am happy to be a mentor to both optometry students at UC Berkeley through the BAOC-Berkeley Mentorship Program as well as to newly graduated optometrists through the SCCOS Mentorship Program.
Currently, I have two optometry student mentees at UC Berkeley and two optometrist mentees that are two years out of school. We meet quarterly, and I also have one-on-ones with the mentees if they have specific questions or discussions they wish to have.
Making a Difference
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, valuable time spent in the clinic gaining experience through doing was cut short for UC Berkeley students. Yet, despite the pandemic, school
must still go on, and these students must still complete their program in four years. That’s where the beauty of our practice comes in.
Since we only work a half day on Fridays, I invited my two mentees Vivian (1st year UCB) and Graham (2nd year UCB) to have a clinic day after we closed. We brought in four volunteer patients for the students to conduct full examinations on. I was able to bounce between our two exam rooms to help instruct and give constructive criticism while maintaining a stress free environment. Between examinations, we went over interesting case studies, so that the students could exercise their theoretical muscles as well as their practical muscles.
Overall, our clinic day went well. Our students had positive feedback about the experience. Second year mentee Graham had this to say:
I thought it was an amazing opportunity and I haven’t stopped boasting about it to my friends in my class. The diverse patients we saw (ranging from easy myope to strabismic ambylope) was such a great experience. Honestly, I was telling Vivian that I was sad that I wasn’t able to do this last year. I definitely would recommend it for any of your mentees to do.
It was low stress, but high reward. I was kind of sad that it was only one day and only a couple hours but I genuinely couldn’t have asked for a better experience. The patients themselves were so understanding as well and any advice that you gave me was appreciated.
Like I said, I genuinely can’t say anything bad about the experience! Thank you for letting us do this once again
First year mentee Vivian had these remarks:
I personally really liked it, and I think the pacing and set up was perfect! It was really stress-free, I got my first taste of refracting non-optometry patients, and I got good pointers from you!
I especially appreciated being able to do BIO on somebody with a larger forehead arch and learning how to navigate around that. 80% of my class are females, and I’ve only been assigned to clinic lab teams with females, so I haven’t had any experience navigating around forehead arch anatomy like that.
I cannot wait to see the talent and empathy that these two students will bring as doctors in the next couple years. I look forward to continuing this program and watching it grow.
Not only do we foster better doctors, but we foster better care for you as the patient; and when it comes down to it, that is ultimately what matters the most.
-Dr. Aaron Neufeld
Dr. Aaron Neufeld is the Chief Optometrist at Los Altos Optometric Group and primary author and editor of The EYE Digest.
To contact him with questions or make an appointment call: (650) 948-3700 or send him an email: firstname.lastname@example.org