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A Blast From the Past

We thought it would be fun to share something from Dr. Vang’s time in optometry school! Dr. Vang landed an interview with optometrystudents.com, where she won a raffle and the site got to pick her brain! See the official interview at: https://www.optometrystudents.com/paula-vang-scco-2014-winner/



1. Where are you from, where did you attend undergrad? I am from Sacramento, CA and attended undergrad at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

2. What did you study in undergrad, and what ultimately drove you to Optometry?I studied Graphic Communications (GrC) in college, but toward the end of my second year I began to feel that a career in GrC might not be right for me. I started to look at other career options and found that optometry was often considered a top rated profession. I decided to talk to my own optometrist and he recommended that I shadow a doctor to really get a feel for the profession. That summer, I did, and found that I really enjoyed the experience. I felt that optometry was something I could see myself doing long-term and decided to pursue it. Being that I was halfway done with my degree, I decided to finish my graphic communications program while working on my prerequisites for optometry. Several courses later, with a GrC degree in the bag, here I am at optometry school.

3. What made you choose your school? What appealed to me about SCCO is that they offer more practice management course hours than any other school. Because I want to own a practice someday, I know that these courses will help guide me in the right direction. SCCO also has an excellent clinical program that gets the students involved earlier than most other schools. I’m a learn-by-doing type of person so I knew the school would be a good match for me.

4. Are you involved in any Optometry organizations, do you hold any special positions at school or have any other creative optometry ventures going on? I am a member of several organizations including the AOSA (American Optometric Student Association), COA (California Optometric Association), COVD (College of Optometrists in Vision Development), Omega Delta, Spanish Optometric Society, and SVOSH (Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity). I will also be serving on the Student Association Board at SCCO next year as one of three officers in the Department of Public Relations. I’ll be responsible for attending all student events, photographing the events, and contributing to the production of our school yearbook

5. What academic subject have you found most interesting in school thus far? Clinical Methods. I’ve enjoyed learning how to refract and using some of the tools we’ll be using as doctors.

6. What was the most difficult class for you thus far? Optics

7. What was the most difficult clinical skill to learn? Retinoscopy. I still don’t think I have it down.

8. If you started seeing patients in clinic, how did you help make the transition from student to intern?How do you develop a good rapport with the patients that you see? I have not started seeing patients yet, but we should start seeing them towards the end of our second year.

9. Will you be doing a residency? Why or why not? I’ve been going back and forth on this, but I probably won’t do a residency. I took a break after undergrad and started optometry school later than most students so I’m ready to settle down and start a family once I’m done with school.

10. If you could change one thing about Optometry, what would it be? I find it interesting that the scope of practice for optometry varies from state to state. I don’t know if federal regulation is the answer, but if I could, I’d try to make the scope of practice more consistent across state lines.

11. How do you feel about the legislative battles surrounding Optometry? I’m not a fan of politics, but I know that these battles are necessary for optometry to evolve and progress into the future. Therefore, I’ll always support any bill or law that will improve our profession as a whole and allow us to provide better care to our patients.

12. Where do you see yourself practicing after graduation? Where? What type of modality? Are you more interested in research, teaching, or organized Optometry? I’d like to go back to my hometown of Sacramento and eventually own a practice or two. I am more interested in organized optometry so I see myself being very involved in the local optometric society and the California Optometric Association.

13. How will you make Optometry grow as a profession? By embracing new ideas and technology. One of the best ways to stay up-to-date with the profession is by attending conferences so I see myself incorporating that into my career in the future and I would encourage others to do the same.

14. What are some things you feel Optometry is lacking? Any ideas to combat this? Women in power. I was really surprised to learn that Dr. Lori Carlson is the first-ever female AOA president. I don’t know the female to male ratio across all optometry schools, but I know that on the West coast, it’s almost 3 to 1. With so many women in the profession, it’d be great to see more of them in leadership roles. I think some positive encouragement from other women who have held high positions would go a long way.

15. Are you satisfied with your decision to pursue Optometry? Or can you see yourself doing something else? I am completely satisfied with my decision to pursue Optometry. I have really enjoyed school so far and as stressful as it is, some of the things we’ve learned have been really interesting.

16. If you had a time machine, what would you change in history and why? With the way gas prices have been going, I’d like to go back and have a major production of electric cars made. That way, by now, we would all be driving electric cars and wouldn’t have to be dependent on gas.

17. If you could go anywhere in the world for vacation, where would you go? Fiji. I’ve always wanted to go and it sounds like it would be a great place to get away from it all and relax for a while.

18. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 things, what would you bring? My glasses because I won’t be able to see without them. A knife so I can hunt/gather food if needed and my boyfriend (does he count?) because I’ll definitely need company.

19. What was your greatest achievement? Completing my first year of optometry school. That year, by far, has been the hardest academic year that I’ve ever been through so I’m very happy that I got through alive.

20. What is your biggest strength / weakness? My biggest strength is that I’m open-minded and always willing to try new things. My weakness is that I tend to bite off more than I can chew. I want to be able to do everything, but I need to learn how to focus my energy on my priorities.

21. What interests you most outside of Optometry? Watching movies—new and old.

22. You can cure one eye-disease, what would you cure? Cataracts because it continues to be the leading cause of blindness in the world. Infectious eye diseases can be treated with medicine but cataracts are a naturally occurring disease that can only be fixed through surgery. It also eventually affects everyone at old age so being able to cure it would be like finding the fountain of youth for the eye.