As a child, Taral Patel, OD ‘22, ‘23Resident, liked going to the eye doctor. As a youngster with eye issues, she needed to see an optometrist every year, and each time she went, it was a good experience.

Taral Patel Headshot“Even as a child I had so many questions for the optometrist because I wanted to learn so much about myself and what my eyes were doing,” said Dr. Patel. “They were always so patient with my curiosity and answered sincerely. I just felt like optometrists were some of the nicest doctors that I met and that was the comfort I wanted to provide my patients as a healthcare provider.”

Originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Dr. Patel earned her undergraduate degree in molecular genetics at the University of Alberta. She chose to attend the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus University and is currently one of its Class of 2022-2023 residents.

She said graduating from PCO/Salus and securing a residency at on-campus clinical facility, The Eye Institute (TEI), was an easy transition.

“It helps that I did go to school here, so being here is a little more familiar to me,” she said. “I do think our school has a really good clinical program and we have some of the greatest faculty, so PCO/Salus students are typically well-prepared.”

Dr. Patel knew she wanted to do a residency after graduation in either low vision or ocular disease, so being the Low Vision Rehabilitation resident in the William Feinbloom Center was a no-brainer.

Having started her residency in July 2022, so far, the experience has been great. She has received a lot of support from not only her fellow residents but faculty alike and finds the transition from student to being a preceptor – overseeing students in the clinic -has developed at a good pace.

“Initially, when you’re a student, you’re worried about making sure you finish all your exam elements and conducting them correctly. You really don’t have to worry about the nitty-gritty charting as much,” she said. “You finish your chart, the doctor bills it and edits all the letters they need to write and send them out. It’s very eye-opening to see the work that goes into making sure your patients are being followed up with and sending out the referral letters to various providers and agencies. It’s a really useful skill to learn while you have guidance available.”

When she’s not working at TEI, she’s playing pool – a recent hobby she developed. She has a pool table in her apartment and playing has become part of her daily routine. She also enjoys hiking, watching TV and movies, and playing online word, geography, and movie puzzles.

Once her residency is finished, Dr. Patel hopes to provide service in low vision and primary care. She hasn’t yet decided on a geographic location — she might stay in the Philadelphia area or move to the West Coast.

“Even if I didn’t do a residency, low vision would be something that I would have incorporated into my practice. However, at the end of the day, our low vision program at PCO/Salus is outstanding and I knew I wanted to be a part of one of the best programs in the country,” she said.