Donor Reception - Linda CasserWhen Linda Casser, OD, FAAO, FNAP, graduated from the Indiana University School of Optometry in 1978, she had a decision to make on which path to pursue: private practice or academia.

She first completed one of the profession’s earliest residency programs under the leadership of Louis Catania, OD ‘69, FAAO, DSc, at the Wilson Health Center in Rochester, N.Y. As an alumnus of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO), Dr. Catania developed the primary care optometry residency program in an era when the profession was changing its scope of practice. His program was on the cutting edge in terms of what was being done clinically within optometry at the time.

That residency experience tilted the scales in favor of pursuing a career in academia for Dr. Casser. And, when she looked around the country to see where she thought her interests and abilities would fit into the world of academia, PCO was at the top of her list.

“It was because of what we were doing here clinically,” said Dr. Casser.

Linda Casser Module 4She was offered, and accepted, a position at PCO where she served four years (1980-84) as chief of Primary Care Module 4 at The Eye Institute (TEI) and assistant professor. But Indiana University was calling and wanted her back.

She was a faculty member at the Indiana University School of Optometry for 13 years, achieving the rank of associate professor with tenure and also serving as the director of the Indianapolis Eye Care Center. In 1997, Dr. Casser was hired at the Pacific University College of Optometry in Forest Grove, Ore., serving as associate dean for academic programs and professor through 2005.

In 2006, Dr. Casser joined the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) as associate executive director of clinical examinations. But almost 25 years later to the date that she left PCO, she returned in 2009 as dean of PCO, serving in that capacity through 2013. The following year, Dr. Casser became the interim director of education for the Physician Assistant Studies program in the University’s College of Health Sciences.

At Salus, she currently serves as a professor at PCO and coordinator of Interprofessional Education Initiatives and is the immediate past faculty representative to the University’s Board of Trustees.

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It’s her work in interprofessional education and the translation of that into collaborative practices that encourages Dr. Casser these days. In 2012, Dr. Anthony Di Stefano asked her to lead the interprofessional education efforts at the University and she’s been heavily involved in that initiative ever since.

“We started as a committee to explore ways to work together on initiatives that made sense for us given the disciplines we have here. We’re not an academic medical center, rather we have community-based disciplines,” said Dr. Casser. “Right now, we’re very initiative/ program-based. And we’ve had a lot of great success. The trend in healthcare is collaborative patient care, so interprofessional education sets the stage for that at the student level.”

Dr. Casser is confident that the continued evolution in interprofessional education will benefit the University as it moves forward.

“We have some wonderful extramural collaborations, especially with La Salle University and Arcadia University,” she said. “I think given the size of Salus, it makes sense to collaborate outside our walls, especially when other campuses have disciplines that ae not currently represented at our University. At La Salle, we’re concentrating our collaboration in the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, which has been very productive because nursing is central to so much of interprofessional education and collaborative practice.”

Dr. Casser is past president of the Indiana Optometric Association and has served on committees of the American Optometric Association. She is past chair of the Primary Care Diplomatic Program for the American Academy of Optometry, from which she received the 2004 Founder’s Award. She was a member of the board of directors of the National Board Examiners in Optometry from 1998 to 2002, serving as its president in 2001-2002.

She has also served as a member of the board of directors of the Oregon Optometric Physicians and the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry and currently serves on the legislative affairs and the state/national education committees for the Pennsylvania Optometric Association, as a consultant to the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education and as a public member of the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) of the American Dental Association.

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“PCO has been instrumental in guiding the profession of optometry for many years,” said Dr. Casser. “I see a lot opportunity for the future through continued positive efforts here at Salus University.”