While attending Penn State as an undergraduate studying biology, Natalee Rackus, OD ‘21, ‘22Resident
, always knew she wanted to have a career in healthcare. She considered becoming a Physician Assistant for a while but during school while working in an Emergency Department, she decided she did want to follow that path.
She stumbled upon optometry in her junior year, while attending an eye doctor appointment with her mom. “I found out optometry school is separate from medical school and was more conducive to having a family after school, which was important too,” Dr. Rackus said. “It seemed like a good balance between biology and math, which I doubled majored in for awhile at Penn State. I felt it was a good in between – I could still do healthcare but had the physics and math application as well.”
Following graduation from Penn State, while applying for optometry schools, she took a year off and worked in an Ear, Nose and Throat office in Tampa Bay, Florida. She applied to both The Ohio State University and the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus University, choosing Salus as she was offered a scholarship for the three-year Doctor of Optometry Accelerated Scholars program, which was enticing as she would finish a year earlier.
Dr. Rackus’ rotation during the last year of optometry school was concentrated in low vision, which led her to her current residency in Low Vision Rehabilitation
“I really loved how the whole goal of the exam was to help patients meet their goals and it was neat to see that your whole job is to help people maximize the vision they do have,” she said “Especially when they can be in such a hard place mentally as they are adapting potentially to a new visual impairment that they did not have previously. It is really rewarding to provide patients with a strategy to renew doing the things they stopped doing because of their vision.”
Dr. Rackus also liked the team centered approach, where the department works to provide access to not only just what an optometrist can provide from a vision stand point for patients, but offer other services such as Orientation & Mobility, Occupational Therapy or Vision Rehabilitation Therapy.
“PCO/Salus was the only residency I applied for as I knew that the Feinbloom Center
is such a world-class place to learn, so well known for what they do, and so good at what they do. I figured if I was going to commit to low vision my goal would be to come here,” said Dr. Rackus.
She said it’s busy but she loves it a lot. She’s getting into more patient care now and is really excited to be part of such a great team.
Dr. Rackus’ boyfriend of eight years is an internal medicine resident in Cleveland, Ohio so she will be relocating there once she completes her residency. Although she isn’t sure what she will be doing after she completes her residency, she plans on continuing doing something involving low vision. Eventually she would like to come back to academia and teach.