CE by the Sea attendees

Caitlyn Cassey’s fiancé James Karalis loves Aruba. He visited the island a few years ago on a “mancation” and loved the perfect weather, great food and overall relaxing vibe of the island.

CE by the Sea attendeesSo when Dr. Cassey saw the opportunity to travel to Aruba for Continuing Education at Salus University’s “CE by the Sea," it was easy to talk James into going along for a short getaway to mix business with pleasure.

“The island setting was really fun and added some R&R to the process of CE which usually lacks both in the classroom setting,” said Cassey, OD ‘16, who was among 30 optometrists – 28 of which are alumni of the University’s Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) - and their families who attended the “CE by the Sea” event Feb. 20-22 at the Barcelo Resort in Aruba. “The continuing education itself was set up in a private room right on the resort that was quiet and intimate for our group, which was nice.”

The program’s goal was to bring optometrists together from all over North America for lectures on various topics and research, offered by world-class Salus faculty members, and provide a great opportunity to renew old friendships and acquaintances. 

Dr. Cassey had the opportunity to spend time with professors she had during her time at Salus PCO as well as meet some professors whom she hadn’t previously met

“It’s nice to be able to reunite with classmates, meet new colleagues and share time together, whether it be at meals, dialogues during CE events or down on the beach or at the pool,” said Dr. Cassey. “I would highly recommend this event - and already have - as it really was an enjoyable experience.”  

CE classroom lectureA sentiment that was echoed by Paula Newsome, OD, MS, Resident ‘81, who had left behind a snowstorm at home in Charlotte, N.C., in favor of traveling to sunny, 80-degree weather in Aruba.

“The experience was amazing and it was just the right amount of CE versus off time,” said Dr. Newsome, who went to optometry school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and then completed her residency at The Eye Institute (TEI), PCO’s main clinical facility of Salus University.  “The program was amazing and I was surprised at how many notes I took and how much information I was able to use immediately upon returning to work on Monday. We see a ton of patients with medical issues and all of the speakers gave pearls that were usable and practical immediately.”

John H. Lee, OD ’93, needed a few more credits to fulfill the biannual requirement to keep his licensure to practice optometry in Pennsylvania, and CE by the Sea offered the opportunity to earn those credits as well as get away for a little R&R with his wife.

Fun in the sun for attendees“I live close to Salus University, so I attend many CE courses there because of the proximity” said Dr. Lee. “However, I prefer going to a place like Aruba to attend CE since I can also make it a mini-vacation. We were able to get away from the cold winter and enjoy the warmth of Aruba. The length of the CE course was perfect for each day and the lectures were filled with interesting topics.”

Lectures were given by Salus PCO faculty, which included: Kelly Malloy, OD, FAAO, Diplomate, Resident ’96, chief, Neuro-Ophthalmic Disease at TEI and assistant professor of optometry; Tracy Offerdahl-McGowen, BSc, PharmD, assistant professor in the Physician Assistant program, Pharmacology and Therapeutics; Alan Kabat, OD ‘90, FAAO, PCO professor of clinical and didactic education; Carlo Pelino, OD ‘94, FAAO, assistant professor at PCO and chief of TEI’s Chestnut Hill location; Jeffrey Nyman, OD, FAAO, staff OD Module 3 and director of Emergency Services at TEI; and Melissa Trego, OD ‘04, PhD, dean of PCO, associate dean of Optometric Academic Affairs and associate professor at PCO.

“The event was a huge success for several reasons, including the world-class and extremely relevant lectures provided by our instructors,” said Salus president Michael Mittelman, OD ‘80, MPH, MBA, FAAO, FACHE. “One of the most important goals of the entire program was to reconnect with alumni, which we did, and I believe that was really appreciated by the attendees. Having it at a nice hotel in Aruba didn’t hurt!”

Hotel reception photoDr. Mittelman also cited the great organization and execution of the event by Melissa Vitek, OD ‘95, FAAO, director of International and Continuing Education (ICE) as well as Advanced Studies and Electives and assistant professor at PCO; Jacqueline Patterson, MPA, vice president of Institutional Advancement and Community Relations; Kate Braemer, director of Special Events and Leadership Giving; and Natalie Standig, ICE program manager.

“The goal of the CE by the Sea was to create an event so memorable that it resonates with our Salus PCO alumni and its mission,” said Patterson. “Thanks to the support from Dr. Mittelman, Dr. Trego, the PCO faculty and staff, we accomplished just that. We are looking forward to building on the success of the event in the future.”

Dr. Vitek said she was already looking forward to next year’s CE by the Sea event.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with some Salus alumni that do not typically attend our CE events because they don’t live close to campus,” said Dr. Vitek. “There were also attendees who graduated from other optometry schools in the U.S. It was a great weekend filled with excellent lectures and fun activities. I can’t wait to begin planning next year’s event.”