In what ways do you strengthen your community through the above role/position?
I like to think that the way I’ve helped the community the most is through education. I talk to my patients until they understand as much as they would like to about vision, ocular health, systemic health, medications and more. We discuss things that worry and affect them or their families. I use my experience and knowledge in helping them become vested in their own care. I take my time in order to address their medical needs and do my best to get them the treatment they need.
Are there any obstacles you struggle(d) to overcome, specific (but not limited) to being a woman in your role?
Luckily, by the time I was in school. optometry as a profession had significant numbers of women doctors. I think my biggest struggles were socioeconomic ones. Coming from an immigrant, lower middle class family, I had to work hard to earn scholarships, grants and all sorts of support that wasn’t always readily available or offered to me. I’d like to think that my hard work and resourcefulness helped me overcome this and not give up on my profession.
What is the best (most rewarding, empowering, FUN) part of what you do?
The most rewarding or empowering thing about what I do is catching diseases, conditions, or problems before they affect overall health; catching them when they are treatable so that the patient will have a good outcome. As equally empowering or rewarding is giving people the best sight possible. The most fun aspect is watching individuals/families grow and return year after year.
Do you have any advice for women and girls who may look to follow in your footsteps or pursue a course in a similar field?
Stay excited, become well prepared, and learn as much as possible. Be an independent learner/thinker, but know when to reach out and use your resources. Don’t be afraid of failure or setbacks, as these can become your best lessons. Value time with friends and family, but be aware of the sacrifices that come with devoting yourself to your field. Shadow a professional and truly get a sense for what we do from day to day. Lastly and most importantly, take good care of yourself so that you can always do and give your best.