The 2017 Annual Meeting may be over, but there’s still so much to talk about! For the newest Fellows and COVTs who earned their certifications this year, this past Meeting in Jacksonville, Florida, is sure to be one that they never forget. 

In order to continue to honor their outstanding effort and commitment, we reached out to each of these newly-certified optometrists and vision therapists to bring you the “WHY” (and how and where!) of their certification process. This week, we bring you Juliet Machado, COVT’s story!

Where are you now?

  • Where do you practice/work?
    I work at Lifetime Eye Care in Eugene, OR, with Dr. David Hackett and Dr. Carol Marusich.

    Dr. Marusich opened Lifetime Eye Care in 1981 and has been providing comprehensive eye exams and vision therapy since.  Dr. Hackett recently purchased the practice and is continuing to provide exceptional service to exceptional people.  Our vision therapy practice serves all types of individuals; however, we seem to draw a large number of people following brain injury.  I trained extensively with Penelope Youngfeather, COVT when I first started here, but I am now the only therapist seeing patients.

Dr. Marusich and Juliet photographed as a stereogram! Use your visual skills and you’ll see them in 3D!

How did you get involved with VT?

Vision Therapy has always been a part of my life; my dad and first cousin are both fellows of COVD.  I began stringing Brock Strings before I was 10, but didn’t really get involved until several years after college.  I had gathered many years of experience working with children in day camps, after school programs, and as an early childhood educator, but had also worked for a general optometrist and retina specialist.  I knew I wanted to clarify my life goals, and with my dad’s advice, I found the FCOVD in my area to start working and training with.

  • How did you grow that interest?
    Shortly after I began working at my first VT practice I had the opportunity to take the Sanet course.  I was very new in my training, very overwhelmed, and walked away understanding that I had a lot to learn, but I was already fostering friendships that have supported my journey ever since My initial years of experience taught me how to communicate with patients and families, gave me confidence as a therapist, allowed me to learn the management side of a vision therapy practice, and also provided me with my first experiences speaking to large groups about therapy.
A COVD family! Juliet with her cousin Dr. Lisa Weiss and dad Dr. Howard Weiss, who are both Fellows of COVD!

The Certification

  • What made you decide to pursue certification through COVD? 
    When I started working at Lifetime Eye Care (6 years ago), I began to truly understand the importance of my role as a therapist.  I encountered patients with diagnoses I had never heard of.  I was challenged outside my comfort zone, but knew I had the support I needed to be successful.  As I continued to grow, Dr. Marusich was slowly fading away from her full-time role in the clinic.  We agreed that it was time for me to pursue my certification.  Prior to April 2016 I had printed the COVT certification guidelines numerous times, but the time to follow through was finally here.
  • What was your biggest hurdle in the certification process?
    My biggest hurdle was time.  Like so many of us, I work full time and have a daughter at home.  My husband works an unusual schedule and is usually busy day/night/and weekends.  Finding time to balance work, family, personal time, and writing/studying was a challenge.  I struggled with wanting to read for pleasure while knowing I needed to get papers written.  I limited my personal projects to make sure I stuck to my timeline.

    Another big hurdle for me was my self confidence.  I never realized how insecure I was about what I had been doing for so long.  When I walk in to a therapy room I do my best to exude confidence, I need people to believe in me, my message, and what I am asking them to do.  Outside of the therapy room, I doubt myself and what I really know.

  • How did you overcome that hurdle?
    In regards to time, I had a strict time line Dr. Marusich and I created.

    This was very beneficial as it kept me accountable to a deadline. Our system involved a conversation about each question, my writing, her editing, an additional conversation about the edits, and then a final draft.  It was my responsibility to carve out time based on my work and family schedule to get it done.  I would often get up early before my daughter woke up, or write/study after she went to bed and my husband was at work.  My family, friends, and co-workers were a huge support and helped me find the time and space I needed to be successful.

    As far as my confidence, it was the rest of my team that encouraged me and provided me with all the mental strength I needed to push through.  Dr. Marusich and Penelope were two of the best mentors, my dad and cousin took my late night/early morning “I’m so confused” phone calls, my fellow therapist friends were by my side, other doctors I have met along the way were always willing to read a sentence or ask a random pop quiz question, the family I have made through the Sanet seminars (I repeated the course in 2016) were a huge encouragement, my co-workers cheered me on with every passing paper, even my patients were excited about my journey.  I know now that I have the knowledge, but I needed every last ounce of support to get me to my goal.

What have you learned?

I have learned that no matter how many years you have dedicated to what you do, there is so much more to learn.  I have learned that there is depth to what I do every day and that the therapy I provide can be so impactful when done correctly and with true understanding.  I have learned that there is a community of doctors and therapists around me that will always be there to answer a question or problem solve with me, and that it is good to ask questions because we can all grow from each other.  I have re-learned that preparation and study is necessary on a journey like this, but that at some point you also have to trust what you know.  Also, after graduating with a degree in Literature/Creative Writing, I have learned how to write a scientific paper.  I have learned and practiced stress management techniques and I have learned that when you set your mind on a goal you can achieve it.

  • How have you grown?
    My level of confidence has grown the most.  When I passed the written exam I had such an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment.  The papers were written by me, but edited by many.  The written exam was all on me, and when I got that passing email a wave of relief and pride flooded me.  When I finally was sitting outside the interview room I just told myself I was going in to talk to parents and to trust what I knew.  At that moment, I was able to just be myself.  I had a lot of people who “knew I was going to pass”, but it wasn’t until the end that I finally realized it myself. 
  • What will you bring back to your patients?
    What I bring back to my patients is the underlying ‘why?’  Diagnoses have a heightened meaning to me now and what procedure I choose matters more now than before.  I bring back a deeper understanding of the emotional roller coaster of having to work toward a goal and the energy, commitment, and sacrifice it takes to accomplish a goal and I relate this to the path my patients are on.  I bring back a better me, which can hopefully lead to a better them.

It’s not just about patient care, what else matters most to you in your practice/career?

What matters to me is outreach and education.  In our circle we know the importance and power of vision.  Outside of our circle, though, is a world that needs to know more.  As I enter the second half of my career, my passion for advocacy will pull me forward.  I hope to have increased occasions to speak to my community about what vision therapy can mean for someone, I hope to especially impact the community of people suffering with head injuries, and I hope to have further opportunities to educate new therapists about the powerful role we can have in someone’s journey.

There’s more to life than vision care…

  • What other things are important to you? What’s next?
    Outside of work, being a mom and a wife are my priorities, with self-care followed close behind.  I have been reading almost non-stop since I completed my process; I began running about a year ago and challenge myself to virtual running events; I am on the board at my daughter’s former pre-school; I attend TBI support group meetings to enhance my understanding of this population; and with my Great-Grandmother’s piano recently transplanted to my home – maybe piano lessons will be on the horizon.
A few days after her certification at the COVD Annual Meeting, the answer to “Juliet, now that you are a Certified Vision Therapist, what are you going to do?” was “I’m going to Disney World!!!”

Thank you, Juliet, for sharing your certification story with us!

Our certification programs are always accepting new applicants and you could be next!