A question and answer session with one of our young alumni, Jonah Casella.
Q: Why did you want to pursue a career in optometry?
A: I knew that I always wanted to be in the medical field. My dad is a pharmacist and my mom's a nurse, so that had a big influence on me and it just kind of worked out. After I shadowed at a couple different places, I realized that optometry was the best of both worlds in terms of a lot of medical and you get to have a lot of relationships with your patients.
Q: Why did you choose Salus?
A: Because Salus was going to get me in the clinic (The Eye Institute) the soonest and I knew from talking to previous doctors that had gone to [the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO)]/Salus that it was really beneficial to just kind of get thrown right into the mix right away. That's kind of how I learned.
Q: What do you feel is unique about your program at PCO/Salus?
A: I would say the clinical experience, I know from talking to a couple friends that go to different schools that they really don't get thrown into a clinic for a while. It's more just book work up front. That's one of the great things about Salus and the fact that it has the clinic. We're well known for getting to see a lot of disease [in our patients] upfront.
Q: What clinical experience made an impact on at PCO/Salus?
A: I would just say in general, getting to work with multiple doctors in a clinic. It takes time getting used to seeing different patients, but each doctor has a different background and a different thing they're good at. Being able to work with different doctors allows you to kind of expand your knowledge - that was probably the most beneficial part.
Q: Did you have you any discouraging or triumphant moments in the classroom or clinical facility?
A: Well, I passed all my practicals. I guess that's pretty triumphant. There's ups and downs with everything. You know you're going to make mistakes in the clinic, but when you make the mistakes you learn from it and then the next time you see something similar, then you know what to do. So you have a little moment of like, ‘ah yeah, I remember this.’
Q: What advice would you offer a peer who might be struggling in a specific subject or class?
A: Especially for first year students, there's always going to be a lot of rough moments and a lot of hard classes. Being able to get through those moments because there's a much brighter world on the other side of that. My advice would to be to put your head down, make sacrifices upfront and solidify your GPA upfront. There are tons of opportunities for tutors and with upperclassmen that are willing to help you. So, don't just let yourself struggle, get help.
To see Jonah’s full interview, check out the accompanying video.