Wayne Tan, OD '21, Resident ‘22, grew up in a poor rural area of communist China, and through what he calls “hard work, sweat, tears and eating,” his family eventually made its way to the United States.
Wayne TanJust 10 years old and in third grade when he arrived stateside, Dr. Tan didn’t speak any English, and life in a new country was challenging and difficult. But he wasn’t deterred. He would go on to become the first member of his family to graduate from high school, college and graduate school.
“It’s been incredible. In some ways there was also a burden as I was caring for or pioneering for my family. But that drove me to work really hard,” said Dr. Tan.
And, once again that hard work has paid off. Dr. Tan, on-campus primary care/ocular disease resident at The Eye Institute (TEI), along with Tina Choe, OD '20, Resident ‘22, off-campus resident, have been named the Bernard Blaustein Residents of the Year for the residency class of 2022 by the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus University.
Dr. Choe, who is completing her off-campus residency at The Eye Care Center of New Jersey in Bloomfield, New Jersey, said the year has been full of obstacles and late nights of self-reflection.
“But it also blessed me with some of the most memorable experiences and made me re-evaluate my own perceptions of patient care,” she said. “The knowledge I have gained from this journey has been so impactful and I am truly grateful to all of the doctors at The Eye Care Center of New Jersey for taking the time to share their wisdom with me.”
Dr. Tan was aware he had been nominated for the award, but he didn’t expect to win and was shocked when he was informed of the honor.
“I have a class of residents who are all very incredible, smart and hard-working and put so much work into this place,” he said. “It never crossed my mind that I stood out amongst them because I work with such incredible people.”
Director of the on-campus optometry residency programs Chad Killen, OD ‘19, Resident ‘20, said Dr. Tan epitomizes everything PCO/Salus and optometry as a profession looks for in a resident.
“He pushes himself clinically to see more patients than expected, never shies away from difficult cases, and is always the first to jump in teaching the students,” said Dr. Killen. “With his pleasant nature and wonderful chairside manner, he is well liked among his co-residents and patients alike. We are so proud of him and have no doubt he’ll do great things in his career.”
Tina ChoeLikewise, PCO/Salus director of the off-campus optometry residency programs, Shital Mani, OD ‘03, FAAO, has similar words of praise for Dr. Choe.
“She has embodied all the characteristics needed to succeed in a fast-paced learning environment with a very positive attitude and motivation to continue working hard to be the best of the best,” said Dr. Mani. “We are very proud of her accomplishments thus far and have no doubt that she will continue to make impactful contributions to the world of optometry.”
The award is named for Bernard Blaustein, OD ‘67, FAAO. Starting in 1974, Dr. Blaustein served as an assistant professor and then full professor at PCO. For six years, from 2003 through 2009, he also managed the On-Campus Residency Programs. In addition to educating students at PCO, he spent time as chief of the Optometry Service at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, and in private practice before retiring in 2018.
Individuals considered for this award are recognized for their optometric clinical acumen, thirst for knowledge, willingness to share their knowledge for the benefit of improved optometric patient care, and outstanding growth during their residency training. It is presented annually to distinguished residents who have shown exceptional clinical promise and aptitude during their residency year at PCO/Salus.
“As I move forward, I will continue to strive toward excellence and will make every effort to continue to challenge myself and develop others, as exemplified by Dr. Blaustein,” said Dr. Choe.
Dr. Tan echoed those sentiments. “I’ve never met Dr. Blaustein but I’ve heard from a lot of his colleagues that are still here and they speak very highly of him,” he said. “He was known for his hunger for knowledge and his drive to teach students. I am very humbled to receive an award honoring him and those qualities.”