Questions and Answers with Satya Verma, OD '75, FAAO, FNAP, Diplomate, Director of Externship Programs

To mark 100 years of Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO), we asked four faculty members about their experiences at PCO and what they hope for the next 100 years.

Dr. Verma ThrowbackWhy did you choose optometry?
In India, my father was a small-town physician in which  he did a bit of everything, and wasn’t strictly just a primary care physician. He delivered babies, took care of dental, and vision. At the time, not knowing anything about optometry and eye healthcare intrigued me and I thought it was fascinating. I wanted to be in the healthcare field [but was afraid of blood]. I realized I could be in the healthcare field and not have to see blood.

Why did you choose PCO?
I used to be secretary of the Indian Optometrist Association. Then, we had a visit from the dean of school of optometry from Berkley, CA and he invited me and asked me if I would like to come to the United States and he sent me the papers and here I was, that’s how my journey started here. I’ve been at PCO for 46 years. I have worked for five out of the six presidents at PCO. During my time at PCO, I experienced the evolution of the optometry profession.  During my tenure as president of Pennsylvania Optometric Association (POA), the therapeutic law passed. I was involved with the process to pass the Medicare Act whichallowed optometrists to be viewed as physicians. I also witnessed the Diagnostics Law pass.  

Dr. Verma AwardAdvice for current students choosing optometry?
I would say the profession of optometry has evolved tremendously and especially in the United States, despite the fact we have restrictions, optometry is practiced at its best. The profession has advanced in that it allows you to pick your own hours, so one can be a professional and raise a family at the same time without disrupting either one.  Most importantly, optometry is a profession with instant gratification when a patient exclaims, “Wow, I didn’t know I could see that well,” that’s when it is very gratifying and I don’t think you can find that in too many professions. Follow the desire to have a career in optometry if you have the passion for it, because that is what makes one student stick out from another.

Advice for current students choosing an optometry school?
Obviously, I may have my biases being from PCO, but over the years I’ve had the opportunity to see graduates from both PCO and other schools through my externship experiences, and there have been instances where I have been requested by many preceptors for PCO students specifically to come and rotate at their site.  Doctors have expressed to me that if they have the choice between two students who come with identical qualifications, they would pick PCO students.  The training our students receive in their years here along with the emphasis on detail really sets our students apart from the other students.