A vision to address industry needs in the eyecare industry is about to become a reality on the west side of the Oklahoma City metro.
A new Eyecare Assistant program has been developed with oversight and guidance of personnel at the Dean McGee Eye Institute. This includes specific equipment for the program and structure of clinical rotations.
The program prepares students to perform diagnostic testing and to assist Ophthalmologists in the performance of minor surgical procedures. Graduates can sit for the Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (COA) exam.
Students will learn how to educate patients on the proper use and care of corrective lenses. They will also learn to clean and maintain ophthalmic instruments and how to provide excellent customer service.
They will also be trained in recording patient information and medical history and will most likely be employed either as ophthalmic or optometric assistants, said program instructor Jeremiah Cooper, a former Navy Corpsman who was trained as a Surgical Technologist and an Ophthalmic Technician.
The 780-hour course includes 400 hours of vision clinical practicums (or clinicals).
Cooper, 46, of Yukon, said he wants the program to produce ophthalmic assistants who understand the ‘why’ behind the tests they perform.
“I also want to instill soft skills in them such as professionalism, active listening, a patient-centered focus and pride in what they do,” he said. “This is a career for which they can be proud.”
Cooper formerly worked at Dean McGee for nearly eight years and at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Oklahoma City.
Garyl G. Geist, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer at Dean McGee Eye Institute said Oklahoma has had a shortage of skilled ophthalmic technicians for years.
“Having certified technicians allows ophthalmologists and optometrists to care for patients more efficiently,” Geist said. “Technology centers do a great job of providing training for various skilled health care positions.
“So we saw them as the potential partners in helping increase the number of ophthalmic technicians in the Oklahoma City metro area.”
Geist said Dean McGee Eye Institute’s mission focuses, in part, on education, which creates a natural fit that will not only provide career opportunities for students but improve access to eyecare for Oklahomans.
Eyecare Assistant is one of two dozen full-time program options. For more information, visit cvtech.edu or enroll by calling (405) 345-3333.