Out of all the optometry schools that Arieneh Tahmasian, OD ‘17, was applying to, the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus University was one of the few that offered its students clinical experience early on in the academic program. 

A. TomasianGaining clinical experience was very important to Dr. Tahmasian, and reinforced during her clinical pediatric residency at The Eye Institute, PCO’s clinical facility. During her residency, she also gained more experience with a vast variety of patients at St. Christopher Children’s Hospital and Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, both in Philadelphia. It was at those places where she gained experience working with children and adults with complex strabismus and brain injury cases.

“I love working with kids and the brain injury community,” said Dr. Tahmasian. “I saw a lot of interesting cases at those two hospitals, from moderate to severe brain injuries, to complex varieties of pediatric cases. Those are cases we don’t often see in a private practice setting, but because of my past when I do see such cases l feel very prepared for it.”

After her PCO residency, Dr. Tahmasian did a fellowship and married her PCO/Salus classmate James Komornik, OD ‘17. She moved to Virginia Beach where she now works for Coastal Vision. Her training in pediatrics and traumatic brain injuries made her an appealing addition to the practice.

A. Tomasian“Now we have six doctors and four offices. I do go to all the offices because there isn’t a ton of pediatric and brain injury eye care around the area, so I go to the four different communities to help out,” said Dr. Tahmasian, who is originally from California. “I started vision therapy at the offices and provide it for pediatrics (children), adults and brain injury patients.”

PCO/Salus put her in a position to be confident and ready for life as a professional, both academically and clinically, she said.

“You’re not going to just read a book and become a good clinician. That will keep you informed, but practice makes perfect and experiencing it is more important than just reading about it in a book,” she said. “In clinic, we saw some rare cases — Dr. (Lorraine) Lombardi used to say, ‘It’s not rare if it’s in your chair.’ That’s the experience I was looking for and that’s what I received.”

And, with two ODs in the family — James has his own private practice called Sea Eye Care in Norfolk, Virginia — the two can bounce professional ideas off one another and seek a different opinion.

A. Tomasian“This pandemic showed us something very important. I would prefer working in separate practices because what if something happens to one of the practices?” said Dr. Tahmasian. “Not that James failed or that Coastal Vision failed, both practices withstood the pandemic strongly, but the fact that we have the two of us when it comes to finances and security, it really shined a light on how important that is.”

The couple who have a puppy and a kitten, are also expecting their first child in July 2021. In the meantime, they’ve stayed occupied during the pandemic hiking outdoors and going to the beach when weather permits.

“I don’t know what the future holds. But James knows that I love Coastal Vision. I absolutely adore the doctors and staff. It’s a great office. As long as they keep me, I’m happy where I am,” she said.