It was a “big E” experience that convinced Tiffani Methvien, OD ‘19
, to become an optometrist.
She had started undergraduate school at Rider University in Lawrence Township, New Jersey, as a business major. But circumstances forced her to take some time off from Rider during her sophomore year and then she ended up securing a job at Princeton Eye Group in Princeton, New Jersey, as a technician and ophthalmic assistant.
The technicians at the company were responsible for refracting, testing and working up patients. One time while working with a recent corneal post-op patient, Dr. Methvien was refracting the patient who was able to see “the big E” on the eye chart for the first time in several years.
“She was just so happy about that,” said Dr. Methvien. “I decided right there that this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”
Dr. Methvien found some mentors at Prince Eye Group willing to help her achieve her goal of becoming an optometrist. James Scott Potter, OD ‘05
, and Mindy Burger, OD ‘96
, were both graduates of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus University.
It took five more years of working at Princeton Eye Group for Dr. Methvien to eventually finish her undergraduate degree in liberal arts and head to PCO/Salus in 2015.
There, she became one of the University’s first student ambassadors
“I loved the ambassadors program,” said Dr. Methvien, who also did a work study program at the Hafter Student Community Center
, was involved with the Contact Lens Club
and completed an American Academy of Optometry (AAO) Student Fellowship while at PCO/Salus. “I was very excited to be at Salus and I wanted to help bring in new students and mentor them like my mentors at Princeton Eye Group did for me,” she said.
PCO/Salus was great at allowing her to hone her skills in patient care, Dr. Methvien said, and she was able to work with a lot of great preceptors, particularly in the Specialty Contact Lens department including Joel Silbert, OD ‘73, FAAO
, and Shelly Cutler, OD ‘82, Resident ‘83, FAAO
But it was during her fourth-year rotation, when she was able to work with Nicholas Gidosh, OD ‘15, FAAO
, chief of the Cornea and Contact Lens Service (CCLS) at The Eye Institute (TEI) that Dr. Methvien really focused on contact lenses and corneal pathology and diseases.
Upon graduation from PCO/Salus in 2019, there was a job waiting for her back at the Princeton Eye Group, this time as the primary contact lens provider for the business, where she still works today.
Dr. Methvien had been working as a full-time optometrist for just eight months when the pandemic hit, and she was furloughed for six-to-eight weeks.
“The hard part about that was I bringing in this scleral lens technology to the practice, so I had a lot of new patients fit into sclerals and that’s a pretty particular technology to follow up on,” she said. “Some of the patients were transplant patients in the middle of their fit, so we had to do six-to-eight-week hiatus and it gets a little touch-and-go if the fits aren’t right. You could run into a lot of complications.”
Out of the 25 patients Dr. Methvien was in the middle of fitting, only two of them ended up with some mild swelling of their transplants, which was easily fixed once she was able to come back to work. But being furloughed early in her career provided a sort of silver lining for Dr. Methvien when she was able to return to work.
“Since I was just starting patient care, I didn’t have a big patient load coming back, so the fact that we had to cut back on seeing so many patients a day didn’t affect me that much and actually allowed me to take more time with the patients I was seeing,” she said. “I do a lot of corneal pathology and corneal disease, so they need a lot of time and a lot of care. It’s a little bit of contact lens fitting and a lot of therapy.”
When she’s not working, Dr. Methvien likes to catch up on her reading and likes to relax with a good scientific novel. She will also pick up a canvas and do a little painting or doodling. Her boyfriend’s mother is starting to write a book and Dr. Methvien is looking to possibly be involved in some illustration work on that project as well.