In January 2017, the Community College of Philadelphia in partnership with Salus University, launched an Ophthalmic Technician proficiency certificate program
. After eight months of coursework at the Community College of Philadelphia’s Northwest Regional Center, clinical training at The Eye Institute (TEI), Salus University’s optometric clinical facility, and externship experiences, all eight students are on track to successfully complete the program.
Scott Goldberg, OD ’76, the program’s director, was pleased to see the students progress professionally throughout their two-semester training and was confident in the program’s ability to produce students with marketable qualities and the expertise needed to secure jobs after graduation.
“The reports I have gotten about this class have been extremely positive,” he said. “These students walked into offices and immediately began flowing with the work and the procedures without any problems. The colleagues I have talked to hinted these students will find jobs.”
More than half of the first cohort has secured job offers at local eye care practices. Dr. Linda Casser, coordinator of Salus University’s Interprofessional Education, believes the success of the first cohort is a testament to the thoroughness of the program’s planning.
“From the very beginning of program development, we envisioned that graduates of Community College of Philadelphia’s Ophthalmic Technician program would commence a valued and rewarding career path,” she said. “When we convened a focus group of local practitioners, organizational leaders, and ophthalmic industry representatives, they were unanimously supportive and enthusiastic about the need for well-trained and educated ophthalmic technicians as well as the anticipated attractiveness of the qualifications of program graduates in the eyes of potential employers.”
Ophthalmic technicians work under the supervision of an optometrist or ophthalmologist and perform a variety of eye and vision-related clinical functions. They record patient histories, perform the pre-testing associated with comprehensive and follow-up ocular health examinations, conduct various diagnostic associated with vision care procedures, provide patient education when necessary, and perform various administrative duties within a clinical practice.
A main component of the program includes hands-on patient care experiences at TEI. TEI is conveniently located adjacent to the Community College of Philadelphia’s Northwest Regional Center. The students also had the opportunity to provide community-based services during a two-day event in Chester, Pa., with TEI and VSP Global® Eyes of Hope®. For the last five weeks of the program, students completed an externship at local ophthalmology offices to expand their clinical skills.
Students can earn their certification in as little as eight months and enter into an in-demand profession. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that job growth for medical assistants, including eye care support professionals such as ophthalmic medical assistants and optometric assistants/technicians, will rise 29 percent from 2012 through 2022.
Darryl Hall, a veteran of the Armed Services, was working in the security field, but knew it was not the career path for him. At the time, he was also enrolled at Community College of Philadelphia, and graduated in December 2016 with an associate’s in applied science (A.A.S.) degree in diagnostic medical imaging.
“When I saw the Ophthalmic Technician Program announced in January, I said to myself, ‘Wow, a nine-month course and you’re ready for a skilled job in a busy industry?’ That sounded great to me. I immediately switched gears, and signed up,” he said.
The second group of Ophthalmic Technician students began their studies in September.
Learn more about the Ophthalmic Technician Proficiency Certificate Program