In college, Andrew Meagher, OD ‘15, Resident ‘16, FAAO
, developed the skill of being able to cut his own hair. He became pretty good at it, too.
Little did Dr. Meagher know, though, that skill would come in handy during the lengthy home quarantine as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s cut his own hair three times now in quarantine, and he’s so happy with the results, he’s even given himself a Yelp review — and a five-star one at that.
“Drew’s COVIDCuts was overall an extremely positive experience. I was greeted and served right away. I ordered the Men’s Classic Cut and Shave,” wrote Dr. Meagher in his review of his own performance. “The barber was not too talkative, which is a plus for me, but was very polite when we did talk. Not too pricey and the overall space was clean and tidy. I would both recommend to others and see myself coming back when it’s time for another cut!”
But hair-cutting isn’t going to replace Dr. Meagher’s real job, that of assistant professor, Glaucoma Fellow, at The Eye Institute (TEI) of Salus University (PCO), anytime soon.
Once a student and now part of the University’s Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) faculty, Dr. Meagher believes that’s an advantage, especially in being seen as approachable by the current students.
“Our class of 2015, four or five of us are faculty now. So I never really felt like I left, but definitely the perspective changed. You’re just seeing it from a whole different side,” he said. “As a student, you’re just so worried about learning everything and becoming your own doctor. It’s interesting to now have both sides of the perspective and I think part of that has really been a benefit as a faculty member because I’m not too far removed from being in the students’ shoes. I think it’s really helped me be very approachable for the students and be empathetic and understand where they’re coming from when they’ve got a lot of things happening and going on.”
As a Glaucoma Fellow, Dr. Meagher has “been living and breathing” glaucoma with G. Richard Bennett, OD ‘79, Resident ‘80, FAAO
, director of the Glaucoma Service of Excellence at TEI and PCO professor.
“It’s primarily clinical exposure, so similar to most medical doctors who do a residency, they want to do a fellowship, which is a bit more specialty trained,” said Dr. Meagher, whose fellowship is scheduled to conclude around Labor Day 2020.
During this fellowship, Dr. Meagher has developed an interest in developing a youth and young adult community glaucoma screening initiative, which he said is still in the development stage, that would get both Salus students and residents involved.
“We have such a high prevalence of glaucoma and glaucoma suspects in the greater Philadelphia area and unfortunately, it's diagnosed at our clinic after vision loss has already occurred, which is irreversible,” he said. “My eagerness for community outreach comes from my nine years (counting years as an intern) seeing patients at TEI who have not been seen for 10 or more years who might have been told they are at risk for glaucoma but are now just being examined.”
The transition to online teaching during the pandemic will change the educational perimeters, Dr. Meagher believes, particularly in the increased utilization of technology.
“Everything is being recorded, so we have this vast library of information that we can utilize moving forward,” he said. “Our utilization of technology is just booming because of it and I think students will have a lot of benefit. It’s going to provoke more questions and deeper learning because we’ve already gotten the foundations under our belt.”
In addition to his hair-cutting skills, Dr. Meagher tries to devote personal time to a number of activities and hobbies. He enjoys biking and hiking as well as cooking, including making his own beef jerky and hot sauce.
“A lot of my hobbies have kind of amplified to the best benefit. I recently moved closer into the city in early fall. It was always my intention to get a bike in the spring and the first week that this happened and I knew we weren’t coming back for a while, that just kind of kick-started that. I probably get out on my bike now every other day depending on the weather,” he said.
He also continues a tradition he started while a student at PCO, volunteering for the Special Olympics
with a group called “Opening Eyes.”
“I don’t have any personal connection, but I just always felt that service should be part of our profession, whether it be in the community or with an organization that advocates for the profession,” said Dr. Meagher. “Really, when you gain this degree, I think there are so many different avenues you can pursue, and one of them should be in the form of service.”
Although the Special Olympics was canceled this year, Dr. Meagher plans to continue to volunteer once it starts up again.
“It started with me being a student going there, just because this is a population that deserves the same sort of care. I have the means to do it and it’s a good way for me as a student to hone some of my skills,” he said. “I started to do it as a resident, then as faculty, and now I’m trying to recruit students to follow in the same fashion.”