At home in China, Master of Science in Clinical Optometry (MSCO) graduate QingQing (Bruce) Tan ’17 is an ophthalmologist, cataract surgeon and professor at North Sichuan Medical College, but he knew there was more to learn about primary eye care. In his native college’s affiliated hospital, he works with a high volume of patients and sees a number of degenerative vision conditions that have progressed due to the lack of primary eye care providers in China.
In 2016, the China Optometric and Optical Association gave him a unique opportunity to enhance his clinical knowledge and participate in Salus University Pennsylvania College of Optometry’s (PCO) MSCO program. Since optometry is a new and growing field in China, with ophthalmologists servicing the majority of patients, Tan hopes to see the profession flourish in the coming years.
“In my university, we have established an optometry department with a four-year program,” he said. “I am here [in America] so I can teach my students how to develop the field of optometry not only in my university, but also in China.”
By participating in the one-year, on-campus MSCO program at Salus PCO, Tan said he gained insight into areas of optometry he hopes to impart on his students.
“Even though I am an ophthalmologist in China, I still learned a lot because [the way optometry is taught and practiced] is different here,” he said. “Optometry in China is not pathology related, but more refraction. I’ve learned a lot of new things, not only the technology and the new medications, but here I now understand in-depth how the disease originates.”
The MSCO program is the only program of its kind in the U.S. dedicated to increasing international practitioners’ clinical skills since many international countries do not provide the same in-depth clinical training for optometrists. A major component of the MSCO program at Salus PCO is the two-week controlled patient care experiences the students participate in twice throughout the duration of the program. The students see patients from the University’s optometric clinical facility, The Eye Institute, to diagnose various ocular conditions and devise an appropriate course of treatment. According to Tan, the clinical portion was second to none and the best part of the program. It was during these experiences that the cohort as a whole were exposed to a number of conditions, in which he never would have come into contact with during his professional career.
“I saw a lot of things here that I did not see in China like different kinds of retina and optic nerve diseases,” he said. “I had the chance to examine every patient in deeper detail, and I think I really improved with this controlled patient care.”
Tan is currently furthering his research experience in the University’s PhD program in Biomedicine. He is focusing his research on binocular vision (the ability to use two eyes to view objects three-dimensionally) in order to help improve his patients’ quality of life and increase his students’ knowledge in this area.
“I want to continue educating people about binocular vision in my country,” he said. “It is not so strong and not many doctors practice it. I think we have a lot of binocular vision patients that need our help.”
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