PCC / News / December 12, 2005

Ophthalmic students gain experience, instant reward

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PCC opthalmic students testing HeadStart student

Second-year ophthalmic medical technology student Tara Henderson just loves bringing a smile to their faces.

Henderson and her classmates recently performed eye tests on about 400 Head Start children as part of a community service designed to help the children get their federally-mandated eye exams. Every year the program, free of charge, tests the three and four-year old students for good eye acuity, which gives PCC students valuable clinical experience.

"The earlier we can discover an eye problem the better it is for the child," Henderson said. "There are some problems that if we don’t fix early enough they can’t be corrected. It’s great to be able to detect and help correct those cosmetic problems, which gives the child better self-esteem."

Henderson loves that she gets to interact directly with patients like the Head Start children. She also likes the fact that she is in a program that gives her a wide range of options once she graduates. Ophthalmic Medical Technology graduates can find jobs in medical clinics, private offices and university clinics. A survey conducted by PCC indicates that demand for ophthalmic technicians is significant.

"Under the umbrella of ophthalmic medicine, there are more and more careers and they don’t have to get completely retrained to enter them," said Joanne Harris, instructor and chair of the program. "You can go in so many directions and don’t have to start over."

The Ophthalmic Medical Technology program offers an associate’s degree and as an ophthalmic medical technician, graduates get to work under the direction and supervision of a licensed physician who specializes in ophthalmology. But the best part is that students will get plenty of opportunities to do what they love.

"There are so many options in this field, it’s great," Henderson said. "Plus, the work is very rewarding because we are able to make a difference in a person’s life."

To get started, call 503-978-5666.

About The Author: James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »