Ophthalmic Laser Course Prepares Optometrists for Wider Scope of Practice

Laser Class
From June 1-4, the University’s Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) clinical and didactic faculty, members of the Pennsylvania Optometric Association and the first cohort of Accelerated Optometry Scholars took part in an in-depth training experience for advanced optometric procedures in laser surgery. Taught by faculty from the Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry, the course provided participants with the knowledge needed to advance their practice in any state.

Spearheaded by Drs. Alissa Coyne and Elizabeth Tonkery, the goal of the training was to ensure Salus PCO faculty can provide students with the utmost preparation before they enter the professional world. Currently, only Oklahoma, Louisiana and Kentucky allow optometrists to perform minor laser surgical procedures.

“The main purpose for the course is for our faculty to be trained at the highest level of our scope of practice nationwide in order to provide educational instruction to our students so they, in turn, can practice in any state once graduating,” Dr. Coyne said.

During the four-day training, participants learned about the fundamentals of optometric surgery including, chalazion (benign, painless bumps inside the eyelid) management, local anesthesia, and introduction to suturing, among other topics. The 32-hour course also included hands-on labs where participants could practice some of the newly learned skills.

Laser Course
Dr. Erin Kenny, who has experienced both the academic and clinical aspects of Salus as a PCO student, a resident of The Eye Institute (TEI), and now as a full-time doctor at TEI, thought the course was incredibly informational for faculty and students alike.

“The course expanded upon the information I learned in our curriculum and I am now more comfortable with advanced procedures,” she said. “The course also changed my perspective on the future of our profession.”

Dr. Coyne, who currently is the lead instructor for the third-year ophthalmic laser lab class, originally took a similar course in Oklahoma in 2014. She believes keeping up with the latest trends in optometry, especially in regards to the expanding scope of practice, is crucial for preparing future practitioners.

“The class and lab have been updated and continuously evolve to include new information and exposure to laser techniques,” she said. “One of our goals is to provide the coursework and hours needed for our students to be able to apply for licensure in the three states with laser privileges.”