How Are Things In The Real World?
Alumni Tales/Tips For Students
A request from a recent student focus group asked for postings of stories from Salus alumni who could tell current students what they were doing and offer helpful tips. This is the first entry in what is hoped will become a regular University website feature and we thank our alumni for their participation.
Steven Linas, OD ’75
“Yes, we’re in a position to decide careers, suspension of licenses, and determine disciplinary action and penalties,” notes Steven Linas, OD ’75. Dr. Linas was recently nominated by Virginia Governor McDonnell and appointed to the Virginia State Board of Examiners in Optometry.
Such positions are generally held by highly respected and involved professionals in the field. Dr. Linas calls his appointment “an honor” and knows there’s a great deal of work ahead, and perhaps some tough decisions as well.
No longer an educational board involved in testing, the State Board of Examiners investigates complaints against optometrists. The work follows certain protocols and is confidential in nature.
Dr. Linas is past president of the Virginia Academy of Optometry, and former president of the Richmond Optometric Society. He holds a Distinguished Service Award from the Virginia Optometric Association, among other credentials.
He is a partner in the Virginia Eye Institute, a huge practice that includes ophthalmologists, plastic surgeons, a retina specialist and six optometrists. The practice is based in Richmond and has a total of 11 offices across the city and state.
Dr. Linas says his favorite aspect of optometry is that “You can make a difference in a person’s life – change people’s lives.”
He offers an example that he says always makes him tear up: A young boy – around 13 - was extremely far-sighted and had severe astigmatism. The thick glasses he wore wouldn’t work under the helmet necessary for him to play football, as he was determined to do. Dr. Linas fit him with custom contact lenses. As soon as they were in his eyes, the boy went right over to the mirror and smiled a glowing, gigantic smile. He told Dr. Linas he’d never been able to see himself before, and didn’t know what he looked like. He felt like a new person.
In his personal life, the fitness fan is the father of two adult daughters and a retired singer. His repertoire emphasized Renaissance and Baroque music and he founded an a cappella group that has performed concerts all over the state and in the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.
Over the years, Dr. Linas has made some observations that might be useful to students and professionals early in their careers.
He believes that there are advantages to working in a group practice, rather than as a solo optometrist in today’s environment. And he is pleased with the viability and variety that results from his group practice.
Dr. Linas also encourages his colleagues to stay abreast of news in sister fields related to optometry. He says he is personally committed to reading journals that go beyond optometry and attending conferences – such as in neuro-ophthalmology. Many such meetings are particularly “OD-friendly”, he notes, recalling that one of them even selected an optometrist for their “best teacher award.”
Gregory Leder, PA-C ’12
Toward the end of the first surgery – a hip fracture - for which he’d scrubbed as a working Physician Assistant, Greg Leder, PA-C ’12 remembers his attending physician saying, “Okay, Greg. Close the wound with sub-cuticular sutures, dress the wound with whatever you think and I’ll see you in the morning.”
Gregory Leder and his fiance
He recalls, “I felt a sense of fear start to creep in as I was left to make these decisions. But I took my time and successfully closed the wound. I had confidence in my training. Remember those pig feet we practiced on at Salus?”
A job or two later, the 26-year-old who grew up in Albany NY is practicing orthopedic surgery in Santa Barbara, CA. Mr. Leder was drawn into Physician Assistant studies after an undergraduate major in Kinesiology and a lot of hours shadowing PAs in a hospital where he volunteered.
He enjoys many aspects of the work, including use of computer assisted navigation and robotics for surgery. “I am learning a great deal, and it is a fantastic opportunity for me to learn and grow as a PA,” he notes. He’s a member of his professional organizations, AAPA and CAPA.
The health insurance and billing aspects of treating patients probably represent the biggest surprises he has encountered so far. Despite outstanding preparation at Salus, he believes no amount of powerpoint or guest lecturers, etc. can fully prepare you for such business variables.
Yet he considers his biggest challenge is “educating patients about the physician assistant profession.” Many patients call him “doc” or misunderstand his role. Mr. Leder takes advantage of these opportunities to explain about the PA field.
This recent alumnus offers tips on entering the job market. “Make sure you’re in an environment in which you can learn and grow as a new PA. Also, it’s important to know that you’re interviewing your prospective employers just as they are interviewing you. Ask specific questions. And absolutely make sure to shadow the supervising physician for at least one full workday.”
Greg Leder is engaged to the woman he sat next to every day at Salus, Britney Fedor, PA-C ’12. Mr. Leder describes their group of Salus study companions as “family,” and says he stays in touch with them.
“Keeping a sense of humor is a huge key to success,” he advises, and “the people you choose to laugh with can help you through the tough times.”
David Friess, OD ’02, FAAO
“There’s a world of other things out there: industry, pharmaceuticals, devices, contact lenses…” says David Friess, OD’02, FAAO. The internationally-respected clinical researcher and independent consultant is also an officer on the Salus Alumni Association Board. He encourages students to expose themselves early in their careers to research opportunities.
“I thought I would go into traditional optometric practice,” notes the son of a South Dakota physician, whose good friend, Dennis Murschel, OD’76, had graduated from PCO and practiced nearby. But Dr. David Friess’ residency with an eye surgeon on the cutting edge of technology and his experiences with ophthalmic R & D instead piqued his interest in diagnostic and therapeutic product development.
Dr. Friess travels frequently throughout the year for projects in the Netherlands and other parts of Europe, and to California and Hawaii. Most recently, he returned from a LASIK laser manufacturer in Germany and was part of a team in Amsterdam demonstrating a new topography method combined with a 3D surgical microscope camera, allowing for pre-surgical corneal analysis and delicate heads-up cataract surgery. Over the years, Dr. Friess’ work has involved developing technology for cataract, glaucoma and corneal cross-linking treatments; organizing and analyzing FDA clinical trials; and designing medical education programs.
He enjoys cutting edge science, advancing the field, his travels and meeting colleagues across related fields. Dr. Friess says the technological innovations excite him because “They drive better patient outcomes. That’s the key.”
Students can explore research opportunities while they’re still in school, attend conferences and apply for research and travel grants sponsored by companies, he advises. He suggests following up on invitations to visit corporate campuses. He’s enthusiastic and appreciative for the resources that the corporate sector offers.
Dr. Friess is married to Amanda Friess, OD’02, who practices primary optometry in Wilmington, DE. They have two daughters, and he delights in serving as soccer coach and as occasional mystery reader at their school.
Dr. Friess says he “highly values the education I got at PCO and the direction my career developed.” He notes that he’s having fun on the Alumni Board and urges graduates “to stay in touch with the school, connect with the students, and participate in alumni events.”
Anthony Diecidue, OD’87
“I like being surprised every day,” says Anthony Diecidue, OD ’87, past president of the Pennsylvania Optometric Association (POA). “I’m always looking for that challenge.”
Dr. Diecidue finds stimulating variety in his medically-oriented, full scope practice in his hometown of Stroudsburg, PA, where he sees “incredibly complex cases” as well as the simple ones. He muses that one of the delights of optometry as a career is that “When people come in, they can’t see; when they leave, they can!” He says there’s a great need out there, and it’s a profession that makes people happy.
In the early years after graduating from PCO, Dr. Diecidue became active with POA. He decided the organization needed a website, and was instrumental in designing and launching the first web pages for both POA and NJOA. He’s on the technology committee for SECO in Atlanta.
But that isn’t enough of a challenge for the doctor who hosts and mentors externs, who teaches twice a year at the Bennett Practice Center on campus, and who continues, even after his POA presidency, to remain active with the organization and serve on a number of committees.
“Be the best optometrist you can be, but also have some diversions,” urges the serious musician. Dr. Diecidue is a drummer for several professional bands and also serves as “musician on call” when an extra drummer is needed for performances in the region. His bands have regular gigs at restaurants and clubs, and are also hired for events. He plays all kinds of music, from the top 40 to rock and roll to blues, but has a personal partiality to jazz.
Dr. Diecidue encourages students and colleagues to take on something additional – volleyball, carpentry, etc. His wife, Sally Puleo, OD ’87 and brother-in-law, Robert Callanan, OD ’84 were also PCO graduates, and Dr. Diecidue notes, for example, that Dr. Callanan is the “best furniture maker you’ll ever find.”
Being involved in the professional organizations at the local, state and national levels is valuable too, he says. You don’t need to be on the Board “to learn more about our chosen profession” - as well as threats to it - and to advocate for it.
Dr. Diecidue challenges himself in other ways as well. The victorious high school varsity football player has served on Stroudsburg’s School Board. And if that foray into politics weren’t enough, he just announced that he’s collecting signatures to secure a place on the May ballot in a run for the new seat in the Pennsylvania General Assembly from the 115th district. Why? Among other reasons, he believes he can help optometry and also keep life interesting.
He adds, “I want to drive home the point that life is full of wonderful opportunities. Nothing’s off the table!”
Jule Ann Lieberman, MS ’13, CLVT
“Bigger doesn’t necessarily make it better,” explains Jule Ann Lieberman, Certified Low Vision Therapist (CLVT) who graduated from the College of Education & Rehabilitation (CER) in 2013. Ms. Lieberman credits Salus dean and CER professor Dr. Audrey Smith for a lecture where she enlarged an image of a cow so much that viewers lost sight of what it actually was. Dr. Smith inspired Ms. Lieberman, who now uses a similar illustration in her own work to emphasize the importance of parts/whole relationships in selecting the most appropriate tools to help people with low vision.
In her position as program coordinator for Pennsylvania’s Initiative on Assistive Technology at Temple University’s Institute on Disabilities in their College of Education, the 56-year-old Ms. Lieberman combines the lessons she has learned from her progressive blindness since the age of nine, with her professional experience in Assistive Technology and her recent CLVT training.
As the “friendly voice who answers the 800 line” and provides information and technical assistance, among other roles, she is able to help dispel a lot of additional misperceptions about low vision. She explains, for example:
- Being able to see print does not necessarily enable a person to navigate safely in the community without the use of tools like a white cane.
- Functional vision isn’t a static skill, but rather one that varies in relationship to the specific task at hand.
- “Seeing something” isn’t identical to being able to make productive use of the residual vision a person with low vision may have.
- It’s necessary to understand relationships of the low vision client with his environment and his tasks in order to make effective recommendations for Assistive Technology.
- Never assume that a person with low vision or blindness has a “personal reader” or helper on call! Communications need to be in accessible formats.
As a youngster, Jule Ann was angered when ophthalmologists and retinal specialists told her there was nothing they could do for her progressive condition. She notes that this narrow, medical perspective failed to open the doors to video magnifiers, optical assistance and low vision devices that could have supported her relentless and determined academic and personal struggles.
“I wonder what my future would have been if I’d been offered the right tools,” she muses.
After her youngest child was in the first grade, Ms. Lieberman returned to the work force and sought to “catch up in computer technology.” One course later, her new career was launched, as the talented student was asked to teach the material instead.
She even established a company, EZ2C in 2005, which has since re-formulated itself as a non-profit foundation for information dissemination.
Ms. Lieberman and her husband, John, have three adult children. Her passions include her dogs – one of whom is a guide animal - and reading. Her voracious and eclectic choices help break the ice and isolation during social occasions, and allow her the joys of travel at times when that hasn’t been an option.
She has a couple messages for her colleagues and for current students.
“Think outside the box,” she advises. Don’t necessarily restrict your career or employment options to those requiring a CLVT, but think about how your experiences and skill sets apply to other fields and related situations.
She touts Salus’ strong interdisciplinary approach, including its program in OT, and further suggests that Salus consider using its strong approach to develop a graduate certificate program in Assistive Technology.
Ms. Lieberman shares an anecdote that should bring a sense of pride to the Salus family: She mentioned a conversation she’d had recently with a prominent leader from one of the Intermediate Units in Pennsylvania. When his jaw dropped over her GPA, he said, “You realize, Salus is the toughest school in the country!”
Caitlin Clompus Anderson, MMS, PA-C ’12
“It’s thrilling to help people. What’s better than that?” says Caitlin Clompus Anderson, MMS, PA-C ’12 apologizing for “sounding cliché.”
A graduate of Salus University’s fourth Physician Assistant class, Ms. Anderson now serves on the Board of Directors of our Alumni Association. She sees this as an exciting way to stay involved with the school and give a PA’s perspective.
Ms. Anderson practices at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, a teaching institution associated with Virginia Tech’s Medical School. She enjoys internal medicine, and in the course of her work, moves across a spectrum that includes critical care, pulmonary disease and sleep disorders, among other areas. She serves in both inpatient and outpatient settings.
Having attended high school near the community where she works, Ms. Anderson says she feels a familiarity with the people who walk through her door, and that such connections are positive. The hardest part for her is when families suffer, and the pain she experiences in being unable to “fix” everyone. Yet she finds the profession highly rewarding and says “It’s a wonderful feeling to see patients back in their regular clothes and makeup.”
Caitlin Clompus spent her early childhood in West Chester, Pennsylvania, growing up in a “medical-based family.” Her father is PCO alumnus, Richard Clompus, OD ’79, whom she calls a great fan of Salus. She was comfortable in her dad’s optometric office and worked in a hospital emergency room later when she was in college. She has heeded Dr. Clompus’s advice to “work hard and be passionate about what you’re doing.”
“People appreciate the energy you show,” notes the Physician Assistant.
Ms. Anderson encourages today’s students in their constant practice with documentation on their iPads. She recalls all the recording that was required during her training at Salus and now refers to this as “our saving grace.” That’s because she has found that “Efficient, accurate documentation essentially allows the doctor to be in two places at once.”
She suggests that one area in which experienced mentors could help new practitioners would be with insurance billing and coding questions. For example, Ms. Anderson mentions the differences in the tests and medicines that are covered by different third party payers, and how understanding these differences would help serve patients more promptly and effectively.
Caitlin Clompus married Chris Anderson three weeks after passing her Boards. She calls their house their new hobby. But that’s not their only one. They participate in outdoor activities with gorgeous mountain scenery as the backdrop. The Andersons play on a coed volleyball team and perform in local and regional theater. “We stay busy,” she laughs.
The Moore Family
Amanda Schrader-Moore OD ’85 and
James Moore OD ’85
There are alumni families, and then there are alumni families. If you don’t already know the Moore family of Salus PCO, you’re in for a treat!
Sandra Schrader-Moore OD ’85 met James Moore OD ’85 during their first week on campus. They were married and later became parents prior to their graduation. But let’s backtrack for a moment.
From a small town near Binghamton, NY, Dr. Sandra says she’d never even had her eyes examined until she came to optometry school. She describes her interest in optometry dating back to a Friday night during her junior year in high school when her father insisted that instead of going out with friends, she should look through a three-inch career book and decide upon her trajectory. Her father appreciated her love for math and science, and recognized that she wasn’t a good fit for the corporate America in which he was employed. Optometry was her selection, and her father helped set her on a course to prepare for that goal.
“It was very nice to have that direction,” she said. “My father guided me well.”
Meanwhile, growing up in Bonlee, NC, Dr. James had been hanging out with a friend whose father and two brothers were optometrists. The profession appealed to him, setting him on course to pursue first, pre-optometry, and then PCO.
The couple started their career in Roanoke Rapids, NC and each chased down a private practice in Lexington, NC. That’s where they relocated – thanks to an unbelievable account of coincidences – and where they currently own and operate Moore Optometric Eye Center, a full scope optometric office.
Dr. Sandra says she especially loves being able to take excellent care of patients without them needing to travel to a big city to get all the bells and whistles. “They depend on us to know what’s going on or to refer them.” She appreciates that their patients “have aged with us.”
Dr. Brett is one of the Moore sons. When in first grade, the boy drew the picture that accompanies this post and hangs in his office; it announces his early intention to become an eye doctor. He claims his parents did nothing to press him into optometry. In fact, Dr. Sandra says she’d often try to expand his consideration with something like, “Orthodontics is a good field.”
Dr. Brett Moore OD’12 managed to squeeze into three years of undergraduate work all of PCO’s prerequisites. His first week in Eklins Park, he met Amanda Frye, OD’12 from the Pittsburgh area. They became engaged on their graduation day. Dr. Amanda’s sister, Jessica Frye, OD’13 is also a Salus PCO alumna.
Drs. Brett and Amanda are now working in Moore Optometric Eye Center. “I feel comfortable with patients who’ve seen me grow up over years,” says Dr. Brett. “It makes the transition easier for them too,” he adds with full expectation that he and his wife will be taking over the practice from his parents in a few years.
“It’s a relief for us,” notes Dr. Sandra. “We hoped he’d come back here, and now we have the added bonus of Amanda: sweet, kind, beautiful and really smart.” Dr. Sandra is pleased with “the proven skill level and chair-side manner” they bring to the patients.
Dr. Brett says he especially enjoys working with patients who have challenges with low vision problems, and that Amanda is especially strong in pediatrics. They’re involved with the network, VisionSource, which Dr. Brett notes helps them “stay up to date on the politics and new things in optometry.”
The Moore Family
His message to current students is twofold: try to get rotations in areas where you might want to practice when you graduate, and it’s okay to call upon the expertise of colleagues and alumni if you have questions. For instance, he recently had a technical question and contacted PCO professor, Dr. Sara Shkalim, for the answer.
The Moore family is active in their church, and Dr. Sandra says she’s been involved with the Lions Club for many years. She encourages new graduates to get involved in their communities and give back.
Dr. Sandra has additional tips for current students. “Don’t do the minimum; work close to your maximum. This is the best time to learn as much as possible with so many people there around you who know so much to help you understand.”
She also urges students and young practitioners, “Think of the patient during the exam, not the tests. You’re information gatherers to treat the patient.”
For a number of years, the Moores hosted fourth year rotation students from Salus PCO. “It was fun and interesting to have young people in the office,” Dr. Sandra says. Now Moore Optometric Eye Center has its own new blood in house!
Ryan Horan, AuD ’09
Ryan and Zoe Horan
You can speak with Ryan Horan, AuD ’09 for quite a long time without ever even imagining that this Pennsylvania Academy of Audiology (PAA) president-elect for 2015 and regional sales manager for Widex, USA has severe and profound hearing loss and has struggled with vestibular balance problems as well.
Based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Dr. Horan enthusiastically focuses on legislative changes to bring Pennsylvania’s licensing laws into the 21st century. He’s following the progress of Senate Bill 137, to update the scope of audiology practice laws in Pennsylvania to be consistent with the higher standards promulgated by the AAA (American Academy of Audiology) and ASHA (American Speech-Language Hearing Association).
“Practice has changed a lot since 1984,” he says, giving vestibular testing and diagnostics and neurophysiologic intraoperative monitoring as examples.
There are many people who equate a hearing aid dispenser with an audiologist, Dr. Horan noted. He recommends that audiologists “Go out and educate the public and your state representatives on what audiologists do.”
Ryan’s career with Widex, a global hearing aid manufacturer based in Denmark, combines his undergraduate business background with his audiology profession. He enjoys training other audiologists to use the software to fit the devices properly. He especially enjoys actually seeing patients who are having a rough time - together with their primary audiologist – to help trouble-shoot and “see to it that we get them going again and happy.” He clarifies, “It’s a lot more complicated than we think. Most people think you just increase the volume, but that’s not the way it works.”
An avid athlete, Dr. Horan was a member of the 2001 gold-medal US men’s basketball team that competed in the Deaf Olympics in Rome in 2001. These days, he loves to golf, and he and his wife (also an audiologist) like to hang out with their two basset hounds.
In his service to the PAA, he appreciates networking with other audiologists, meeting new people and keeping up to date. He has learned how nuanced it is to get legislation passed and how unaware the public is about the field of audiology.
Dr. Horan encourages his fellow alumni to “continue to try to spread the word about what audiologists do in our community and about the education we receive.”
To current students, he says, “Make sure you get comfortable with the full range of audiology activities through varied clinical rotations and internships.” He emphasizes the versatility of experiences as “contributing to your understanding, clinical repertoire, and also to employment. That also applies to exposing yourself to a wide range of “settings – whether an ENT office, hospital, VA hospital or private audiology office.
Dr. Horan says “Audiology is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done – helping patients with hearing loss to have quality of life and do things: interact, go to restaurants and movies, get their life back… To current students I’d say, you’ve chosen your profession wisely!”
Darryl Glover, OD ’11
“I encounter something new every day,” says PCO alumnus, Darryl Glover, OD ’11.
Dr. Glover practices primary eye care, with a special interest in dry eye syndrome, for Eye Care Associates in the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina. He sees a diverse patient mix from the growing area, including retirees and professionals from the academic hub in which his office is located. Dr. Glover had been affiliated with Eye Care Associates as an optometric technician prior to earning his OD from Salus PCO.
“I always had a love for eyewear, which opened me up to the world of optometry. I began selling glasses, which led to edging lenses and spilled over to being an optometric technician,” he explains about his professional journey. “I was drawn to the Pennsylvania College of Optometry because the majority of elite optometrists in my area graduated from PCO and recommended the program.”
Darryl calls himself a “product of PCO’s Summer Enrichment Program (SEP).” SEP, he explains, is a program that gives borderline applicants a chance to show their ability to succeed. He believes it’s a strong program and urges its continuation.
“Reductions in reimbursements” is the big challenge he encounters in his profession. Dr. Glover suspects that he might have benefitted from closer communications with alumni on the business aspects of optometry while he was studying and greater experience early on with insurance, costs of goods and legislatures. Meanwhile, he indicates that his practice addresses this challenge by working effectively with vendors to help tackle patient needs rather than by increasing patients per hour or the fees charged.
Darryl Glover loves travel, eyewear, photography and blogging. He welcomes readers to his blog: www.eyeseeeuphoria.com.
If he could go back and change something from his Salus days, Dr. Glover says he regrets not joining SOSH and attending their annual to give back. He also believes that by selecting his clerkship and externship in the community where he planned to return to practice, he may have missed some opportunities to explore new areas and lifestyles.
Asked about his favorite aspects of his current work, he playfully notes, “I love that I get to run my mouth all day and help people at the same time.”