by Katharine Funari
So you’re interested in COVD and a future optometry career that includes vision therapy… what do you do next? Don’t panic!
Luckily enough, students have lots of great opportunities to shadow at established practices and learn all the ins and outs of working in this field!
There are a few steps that make this process easier:
1. Take some time to explore COVD.org
There are many resources that you have access to as a Student Member, especially the Locate a Doctor function–you can use this search tool to find possible shadowing locations near you!
2. Join your school’s COVD Club
Occasionally, school COVD Clubs offer shadowing opportunities with doctors in the area. This is a great way to get involved with your chapter and learn more about what COVD has to offer and the practice methods that are available once you graduate.
Every year, the COVD Club at each school also has the opportunity to hold a FREE speaking event with a local COVD doc, thanks to the Kaplan Program! Email Kris at the International Office to take advantage of this offer!
3. Network! Network! Network!
Come to the COVD Annual Meeting, talk with the docs that are there, and you will be amazed at how much you will learn just conversing over coffee and a bagel. Often, the doctors want to learn from you just as much as you do from them. They are incredibly welcoming and willing to share their experiences and knowledge with you. These connections that you make will only help you later when you are making those big life decisions.
4. Pick the right externships
Also, choose externships that incorporate VT into their practice! This is a great way to get your feet wet and see if you enjoy practicing vision therapy out in the real world. If this is not an option for you, engage your classmates and peers. Sometimes, they can help you in establishing a contact at local vision therapy practices. Recently, I was able to shadow at a practice that our AOSA COVD National Student Liaison Samantha Del Campo is currently rotating at, since the site I was working with did not offer vision therapy. I would not have had this opportunity without her help.
Do not be afraid to reach out to someone that you have not had contact with previously. Take initiative with your learning and your life. If you don’t have access to conferences like the Annual Meeting, if you are on rotations and have trouble getting involved with your school’s Club, or if don’t know of any peers with contacts in vision therapy practices–get online! Find a local COVD doctor and shoot them an email or give them a phone call. This goes a long way. Not only are you going to learn by visiting offices but you will also be showing your desire to become involved in COVD. You could potentially gain a great lifetime mentor!
As always, Samantha and I are always happy to help connect you with your school’s club, the COVD International Office, and any other resources you might need. If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to find us at national meetings or by email:
Best of luck to all of you embarking on your COVD experiences!
COVD National Student Engagement Coordinator
Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University, Class of 2018