When Chad Killen, OD ‘19, Resident ‘20 was growing up in Delaware, his eye doctor was Michele Haranin, OD ‘89. He was so fascinated by the eye exams Dr. Haranin performed on him that he started to consider optometry as a career choice.

Throughout college, Dr. Killen continued to pursue that dream by working as a technician for Dr. Haranin and another alum of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO), Philip Gross, OD ‘91

Chad KillenThe two optometrists became mentors for Dr. Killen and often regaled him with amazing stories about their educational journey. Dr. Killen witnessed what kind of doctors they had become and decided that PCO (now Salus University) was the place for him as well.

“Being able to shadow Dr. Haranin and see the impact she had on her patients’ lives really inspired me to make the same difference for others,” said Dr. Killen. “To this day I try to use the same empathy and have the same gentle nature I learned from her.”

Dr. Killen graduated from Gettysburg College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Sciences. In addition to following in the footsteps of his mentors, Dr. Killen was sold on PCO/Salus when he toured the University and witnessed first-hand the diversity of the patients and the amount of ocular disease he would be able to treat at The Eye Institute (TEI).

Dr. Chad KillenIn addition to his studies, Dr. Killen also participated in several activities during his time as a student. He was president of the Gold Key Honor Society and the Contact Lens Club. He was also the director of internal affairs for the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA), worked as a teaching assistant in the Clinical Skills Lab and was on the Athletic Committee that helped plan intramural sports for the students.

He received the William Feinbloom Low Vision Award and the Bernard Blaustein Resident of the Year Award for the Class of 2020 before joining the faculty after graduation as a clinical instructor in primary care services, working with fourth-year students at TEI and its Chestnut Hill satellite. He also works with third-year students in Suite 1, has taught a section in clinical problem-solving with third-year students and helped second-year students in the clinical skills lab.

“Joining the faculty has been amazing. I always felt like I had so many strong mentors at PCO/Salus as a student,” said Dr. Killen. “To now become colleagues, I’ve realized that the learning never stops and I’m always picking up bits and pieces of information from faculty members.”

Chad Killen and dogDr. Killen believes since he was recently a student, he can put himself in the shoes of the current students he instructs, which in turn makes him approachable for those students if they need someone to reach out to for advice. 

Teaching during a pandemic has come with its fair share of challenges, but Dr. Killen believes one of the silver linings has been his technical skill set enabled him to easily transition to virtual learning and to help others with that transition. 

He also tries to set an example for his students and the community at large on how we can safely adapt to new procedures during the pandemic. 

“With the dangers front line workers in hospitals and other medical facilities are facing I think it’s important to continue providing quality eye care and teaching moments while ensuring minimal risk to our patients and students,” he said.

Moving forward, Dr. Killen would like to gain more confidence and experience working in the academic side of optometry and in the residency program. “Right now I’m in primary care, but I did my residency in low vision,” he said. “I’d love to be able to marry both of those interests and do a little bit of low vision and a little bit of primary care.”

Chad KillenWhen he’s not performing his duties at PCO/Salus and TEI, Dr. Killen is enjoying time with his Philadelphia area friends. Pre-pandemic, he and his friends liked to explore new restaurants and breweries in the city. He also likes to hike in the Chestnut Hill and Wissahickon areas, play tennis and pickle ball, and spend time with his family back home in Delaware, including his “adorable” niece and nephew. 

However, there is little doubt Dr. Killen’s professional career has gotten off to a challenging start, something he approaches with a positive outlook. 

“What I’ve been telling myself is that if we can get through this, we can get through anything. I think it’s definitely going to help with perseverance and to not take for granted all of those encounters we have with patients before this happened,” he said. “It’s really helped us learn how to streamline our exams, to be more efficient clinicians, which I think will benefit our students when they go out into the real world.”

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