THE ENTERTAINING SIDE OF OPTOMETRY
This month, I bring you our residency directors, Mark Dunbar, O.D., F.A.A.O., Murray Fingeret, O.D., F.A.A.O., and Anthony B. Litwak, O.D., F.A.A.O., under the Key Opinion Leaders section. The residency programs that are available today are phenomenal and shaping the future of optometry. I had the pleasure of witnessing my son, Mark Schaeffer, O.D., experience a year of intensive training at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, Fla. The amount of knowledge and medical acumen that a doctor receives from these institutions gives him/her the confidence to practice at a very high level of medical care.
OM’s resident fashionista, Jenn Falik, is back with spring shoes. This month’s Key Industry Leader is Joe Barr, O.D., M.S., F.A.A.O., of Bausch + Lomb. Dr. Barr has been a friend for more than 30 years and has “done it all” in our industry.
Next month, Kirk Smick, O.D., F.A.A.O., returns with his Travel, Food & Wine column.
O.D. Scene creator, writer and editor Jack Schaeffer, O.D.
Key Opinion Leaders Weigh in…
Residency Directors Mark Dunbar, O.D., F.A.A.O., Murray Fingeret, O.D., F.A.A.O., and Anthony B. Litwak, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Q: Where do you practice, and can you describe it and your typical day?
MD: I practice at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, Fla. I see patients four days a week: three days in a primary care setting, one day seeing pediatric patients, and I spend the fifth day on administrative duties. I oversee a department of six other O.D.s who practice in various sub-specialties, including glaucoma, cornea/external disease and neuro-ophthalmology. We have four O.D. residents who spend one year with us, and 12 to 14 fourth-year optometric externs from seven schools of optometry.
MF: I practice in the Department of Veterans Administration New York Harbor Health Care System in New York City. It is a teaching and research facility with both fourth-year students from several institutions and residents. Our veterans tend to be older and often have multiple eye and medical problems. Roughly 40% of visits are for glaucoma, 20% for diabetes or macula issues, 25% for comprehensive care and the remainder related to the anterior segment, among other eye-related issues.
AL: I work at the Baltimore VA Medical Center in downtown Baltimore, Md. Most of my patients are elderly men. I manage a lot of glaucoma, AMD and diabetes.
Q: What changes have you seen in residency programs?
MD: I see a growing demand for residency training as the demand for medical eye care increases.
MF: Residencies have increased in number, providing more opportunities for students to enhance their skill set before starting practice.
AL: We have increased our residents’ exposure to ocular disease outside the VA system through external rotations in subspecialty clinics, such as refractive surgery, specialty contact lens, cornea, glaucoma and retina clinics.
Q: What changes have you seen in the doctors you’re training?
MD: I see more confidence in the O.D. residents’ ability to provide a broad range of eye care. As a result, they are better equipped to manage and co-manage many [medical eyecare] conditions.
MF: The medical model is now part of all optometric education and not a supplementary area.
AL: There is a definite trend for more doctors wishing to stay in the VA system after completing their residency.
Q: Why do you feel it’s important for a graduate to do a residency?
MD: That extra year provides an infinite amount of knowledge, experience and the development of clinical skills and abilities that otherwise may take years to acquire. More than anything, the residency year helps to foster and promote the quest for life-long learning.
MF: Residencies provide a year of clinical training in a stable environment, allowing one to follow their patients through time. The amount of growth in that year is significant, and the experience one gains does not happen during most four-year programs.
AL: There are specific job opportunities in VA hospitals, academic and O.D./M.D. practices that require a residency for those positions. When you think about how a residency influences your entire career, it is truly a worthwhile endeavor.
Q: Why should a doctor choose your residency vs. the other residency programs?
MD: You are more likely to see the Kardashians in Miami than in Baltimore or in the Bronx with Murray Fingeret…Wait a minute – that may be a reason NOT to do the residency at Bascom Palmer.
MF: Because New York City is the best place to spend a year.
AL: The Baltimore Ravens are Superbowl champions. That’s unlikely to happen any time soon in Miami or New York.
Q: What has changed in optometry through the last five to six years?
MD: The biggest change has been the growing acceptance and adoption of OCT imaging. This technology has drastically and dramatically changed the face of both optometry and ophthalmology.
MF: More O.D.s comfortable in the medical model. Managing a case of glaucoma or an individual who has diabetic retinopathy is no longer new or mysterious but rather part of the scope of care they were trained to provide.
AL: I have witnessed an increase in the number of graduates applying for a residency position. This is a pleasant surprise, considering the amount of student debt that often inhibits graduates from applying for residencies.
Q: According to ASCO, almost 65% of the student body in optometry school is female. Why do you think women now make up most of the student body, and what is your advice for this powerful demographic post-graduation?
MD: The reason more women are considering optometry is because it provides the professional challenges that the other medical professions offer while affording the ability to work full- or part-time.
Dr. Fingeret (left) and friend, in a market in Agua Calientes, Peru.
Dr. Litwak on lunch break from the VA.
MF: I am not sure why men are no longer attracted to optometry. Good question that I cannot answer.
AL: I think optometry allows flexibility in professional and family affairs, which attracts both genders to the profession.
Q: What is your prediction for the future of our profession?
MD: I predict optometry will become a more integral part of health care and eye care in general. As the population ages, more patients who have medical eye problems will need care. That means more patients with AMD, cataracts, dry eye disease, allergy, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy than ever before. The optometric profession is primed and ready to meet this growing demand.
MF: More well-trained and ambitious O.D.s are coming into practice. This will allow our profession to grow and evolve through time. The future is bright even if the next generation of optometry looks different from 30 years ago.
AL: I see a steady increase of patients into the VA system, especially with the cost of private insurance and medications. The number of patients receiving Avastin/Lucentis/Eyelea injections is exploding in the ophthalmic field.
Q: What do you like to do for fun?
MD: I enjoy being with my family and reading.
MF: I ski, travel and run.
AL: I enjoy windsurfing, kite sailing and competing in triathlons.
Q: Who are the members of your family, and how do you enjoy spending time together?
MD: I have four wonderful children: Kristen,18, who just finished her college freshman year; Trevor, 16, who plays guitar and drums. To see him play on the Indiana Pacer drum line is really incredible. Harrison, 9, is almost a black belt. Also, he is starting to develop a passion for basketball. Miranda, 7, still thinks the world revolves around her. Finally, my colorful and spirited Cuban wife Lleana, who doesn’t put up with my BS and is the love of my life.
MF: My wife Janet and son Stuart. We enjoy traveling and skiing together.
AL: I enjoy vacationing in tropical locations with my two daughters. We chartered a sailboat in the Bahamas and windsurfed in Maui and on the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon.
Q: If you could have dinner with anyone, living or deceased, who would it be and why?
MD: The cast from the movie Ocean’s Eleven. How fun would it be to hang out with Clooney, Pitt, Damon and Julia Roberts for a night? It would also be interesting to have dinner with my mother and father when they were in their 30s, and my children when they are in their 40s.
MF: Jerry Garcia (lead guitarist and vocalist of the Grateful Dead).
AL: My father passed away when I was 17, so I would be ecstatic to be able to talk with him as an adult.
Crawfish boil at the Dunbar’s.
Fashion by FALIK
Jenn Falik is a style and beauty expert who has appeared on The View, The Today Show, The Rachel Ray Show and E! News. Each month, she shares the latest styles and beauty trends and how to incorporate them into your practice. This month, Jenn puts her foot forward with shoe trends for spring.
• Ankle Strap Stiletto: While I am typically anti-ankle strap (I always feel like it cuts the leg line in an unflattering way), this season I am making an exception because the options are just so much fun. Go all out, and sport a pair embellished with studs or fringe, or opt for a more classic thin leather strap style.
Acquire an ankle strap stilletto.
• Block Heel: Lucky for the ladies, this wearable style is huge for spring. You still get the lift effect of a heel (longer, leaner legs), without the discomfort. Trade ballet slipper flats in favor of a mod-inspired pair, and even running around town doing errands becomes infinitely more fashion forward.
• Funky Flats: Whether you wear a classic ballet flat or menswear-inspired driving shoe, don’t let your flats make your outfit fall, well, flat. Instead, think of them as statement accessories, and shop accordingly. Metallic accents match almost anything, and an ultra-bright jewel tone hue is always refreshing.
Try an ultra-bright jewel tone flat.
• Pumps with Personality: Patterned pumps are perhaps the most effortless way to add punch to a business suit or little black dress. Florals feel perfect for spring, or infuse a bit of bohemian flair with an ikat print. And when in doubt, you can rarely go wrong with animal prints.
Add personality to your outfit with an animal print.
• Sliver Wedge Sandal: More delicate than a classic platform wedge, the sliver style is super feminine. The optical illusion of such a narrow silhouette can feel borderline space-age and ups the fashion factor of even the most simple look.
Key Industry Leader
Joe Barr, O.D., M.S., F.A.A.O., vice president of Clinical and Medical Affairs at Bausch + Lomb
Dr. Barr (second from left) and family on vacation in Kiawah Island, S.C. 2012.
Q: Any comments regarding the changes in your company?
A: We are committed to becoming the best eye health company; the only one solely committed to eye care and to helping people see better, to live better. We do this by working as one Bausch + Lomb across our business units of Vision Care, Pharmaceuticals and Surgical; always keeping the eyecare professional and patient at the center of what we do.
Q: What is your prediction for the future of the profession of optometry, in terms of market share and pharmaceutical dominance?
A: Optometry will continue to grow as a primary eyecare provider. As eye health and eyecare science expands and as the population ages along with increased diabetes, the need for eye care will grow globally, as will optometry. Optometry will grow across its spectrum of patient care from refractive to contact lens care to collaboration with eye surgical specialists to primary care of eye disease.
Q: What changes have you seen in the profession through the last five years?
A: While continuing to be the expert in refraction and new spectacle and contact lens technology, my colleagues in practice have seen increased numbers of primary eyecare medical patients. Although practitioners may not like electronic health records and the role of third parties in their patient care setting, they are adapting one way or another. Additionally, innovation is strong, which is great for the patient when prescribed the right product, but means that eyecare professionals have more to keep up with in terms of knowledge and continued education.
Q: What do you like to do for fun?
A: I enjoy running, playing golf and spending time with my wife, daughters, sons-in-law and grand kids either at the beach or home. I love to watch sports, especially basketball and golf (live or on TV). Additionally, I read, cook and eat fine food and drink fine (or not so fine) wine.
Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: May 2013, page(s): 44 - 47