How an externship polished me as an OD

July 18, 2019

It was a special Optometry’s Meeting for me this year. I am humbled and very grateful to all (and there are many) who made me a candidate and

It was a special Optometry’s Meeting for me this year. I am humbled and very grateful to all (and there are many) who made me a candidate and recipient of the American Optometric Association’s 2019 OD of the Year. My family and I truly felt the love the entire time we were in St. Louis.

One great and unforeseen addition to a wonderful week was bumping into one of my mentors and an individual I’m honored to call a friend.

I ran into Dr. John Essinger and his wife Ruthann on Wednesday of the conference. We ducked into the front lobby of the AOA’s new headquarters (which is fantastic) and got to catch up for a few seconds. Our brief conversation brought back great memories. Dr. Essinger and Dr. James Fisk afforded me the opportunity to extern at their private practice when I was a fourth-year student at the UAB School of Optometry.

Previously by Dr. Casella: One steroid drop, one time for allergice response

Business of optometry
Looking back, I think all fourth-year students should have the opportunity to perform an externship in a private-practice setting. In the right scenario, it can afford a multifaceted learning experience that is priceless to the young clinician. The business of eye care-optical, insurance, staff-can be daunting to anyone. To me, it can be daunting on a good day.

As an optometry student with a liberal arts degree, it would be an understatement to say I could have used as much training in the world of eyecare business as I could attain. Learning from common-sense experience is something we all could use, and I feel fortunate to have had access to it at a young age.

In addition to being witness to contemporary and innovative patient care, I got to experience the joys and tribulations of day-to-day optometric life besides the clinical side. The lessons I learned during this externship have turned into key facets of my optometric cerebrum which have many times driven my decision making in clinical and business aspects of optometry. Who could ask for a better result from an externship than to have it morph into a legacy of sorts?

I didn’t know it was possible to learn so much and have so much fun at the same time. Such a seemingly false dichotomy seems uncommon, and I’m here to tell you it happened as described. The successful emulation of Drs Essinger and Fisk would mean being a great doctor of optometry in addition to a great human, and I look back at my time at their practice with gratitude, joy, and lots of love.

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