One of the career aspirations Devin Williams, OD ‘17
, had when he was younger was to be a doctor. He just didn’t quite know what particular kind of doctor he wanted to become.
While at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, where he pursued a degree in Biology, he decided to shadow professionals in the career paths he was most interested in which were dentistry and optometry.
“I took classes in physics and visual perception where I learned more about how the eye works along with the brain,” said Dr. Williams. “I think once I learned the foundation of optics and how the eye worked, that influenced me to decide on optometry.”
The Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus University was his next stop because PCO/Salus was one of the most well-known optometry schools on the East Coast and it had a top-notch clinical program
. Dr. Williams knew PCO/Salus emphasized early clinical exposure and placed students in its clinical facility, The Eye Institute
, earlier than most optometry schools and that appealed to him.
He was also inspired by his personal optometrist in Virginia, another PCO/Salus grad, Kristy (Chmeilewski) Ambrose, OD ‘07
. She would be the first optometrist Dr. Williams shadowed and would continue to be instrumental during his graduate school years. Dr. Williams would eventually complete a summer clerkship with Dr. Ambrose after his first year at PCO/Salus and would again return to her as an extern
during his fourth-year clinical rotations.
All of the in-depth training he received at PCO/Salus along with the mentorship from Dr. Ambrose filled Dr. Williams with an increased confidence when graduation arrived and he was able to make his mark as a professional.
“PCO/Salus has a strong first-and second-year didactic program that provides us with the foundational knowledge of ocular anatomy, ocular disease and clinical skills to get us ready for patient care,” said Dr. Williams. “Both the strong didactic and strong clinical programs really prepared me to get out there and feel comfortable practicing right from the beginning of my career.”
Immediately after his time at PCO/Salus, Dr. Williams returned home to Virginia and started working at a private practice in Hampton. After a year and a half there, he moved to Virginia Beach where he joined a group OD/MD practice.
While at PCO/Salus, Dr. Williams was in the Advanced Studies Program in Contact Lenses, which provided hands-on experience with specialty contact lenses. While he still does some work now with specialty contact lenses, his patient base primarily consists of routine, medical, and post-operative care.
One of the things the pandemic did, like it did for many people, was curtail Dr. Williams from one of the things he loves most — to travel, both personally and professionally. In 2019, he was able to visit Boston, Bora Bora, Orlando, Florida, and go on his first mission trip.
One of the ophthalmologists he works with had for years participated in mission trips to Kenya, in Eastern Africa. Dr. Williams was invited to participate in one of those trips and eagerly accepted the opportunity to broaden his experience.
“We also traveled to a very rural area of Kenya where they pretty much had no access to any eye care and screened an entire village, provided eyeglasses, and brought back to the eye clinic anyone who needed treatment,” said Dr. Williams.
The trip, he said, really opened his eyes as to how fortunate we are in the United States to have such great access to eye care.
“It made me more aware as well as reminded me that what I do every single day at work can mean so much and make a big impact on someone’s quality of life,” said Dr. Williams. “Once I came back from the mission trip, it made me a better overall clinician and more passionate about eye care.”
But with travel restricted for most of 2020 and into 2021, Dr. Williams spent time with his fiancée, Bryan, and training his new puppy, a beagle named Bailey. He and Bailey had already started training classes when the pandemic hit and interrupted those classes. A two-month furlough from his job at the beginning of the pandemic provided Dr. Williams the opportunity to take over Bailey’s training full-time for a little while.
His next career goal, he said, is to start working on a fellowship for the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) and then after that, he’d like to get more involved in his community.
“Maybe do more community service vision screenings. Get more people educated on the importance of eye care,” said Dr. Williams. “I also maybe want to start my own practice someday in the distant future. I’m not quite sure on that yet, but that’s something I have in the back of my mind.”