International Students Deepen Clinical Skills with Hands-On Training
From July 10-21, 13 students from Saudi Arabia, China and Thailand participated in controlled patient care experiences as part of their Master of Science in Clinical Optometry (MSCO) program. The two-week program, led by Drs. Harvey Bonner of Montana and Robert Andersson, MSCO ’10, of Finland, allows students to practice their clinical skills on unique patient cases.

“Some of the diseases most optometrists, even ophthalmologists, never see in their lifetime,” said Dr. Bonner. “They’ve seen every unusual eye disease you can think of – Stargardt disease (juvenile macular degeneration), peripheral retina degeneration and a lot of patients with diabetes.”

Each day, the students worked in the newly renovated Clinical Procedures Lab with current patients from The Eye Institute of Salus University to diagnose various conditions and discuss treatment options with Drs. Bonner and Andersson. For the first time, the cohorts from each individual country were divided into mixed groups to learn how to work with other international practitioners and practice their English skills, according to Natalie Standig, program manager of International and Continuing Education.

Ayat Alghamdi ’17MSCO, explained that in her home country of Saudi Arabia there are not many optometrists and there is no clinical program for the optometric profession. She was eager to complete the University’s MSCO program to deepen her clinical skills and ultimately become a more advanced practitioner.

International Students Deepen Clinical Skills with Hands-On Training
“We’re seeing patients with rare diseases and they’re very interesting cases,” she said. “We usually see six patients a day as a group, diagnose them and discuss the diagnosis with our supervisors.”

QingQing (Bruce) Tan ’17MSCO, a practicing ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon in China, was selected by the China Optometric & Optical Association to partake in the Salus MSCO program. He feels confident that the thorough clinical training he received will enhance his skills back home.

International Students Deepen Clinical Skills with Hands-On Training“I love this program,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot of new things, not only the technology and the new medications, but here I now understand in-depth how the disease originates. In China, we have so many patients and we don’t have time to examine them in detail. Here, I had the chance to examine every patient in deeper detail. I think I really improved with this controlled patient care.”

The MSCO program is the only program of its kind in the U.S. The goal of the program is to increase international practitioners’ clinical skills since many international countries do not provide the same in-depth clinical training for optometrists. These 13 students are also pursuing Advanced Studies Certificates in Anterior Segment, Binocular Vision and Vision Therapy, Vision Impairment and Rehabilitation and Contact Lens. The MSCO with an Advanced Studies Certificate Program allows international practitioners to earn both their MSCO degree and specialize in a specific field of study.

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