Back in 2011, I was an ambitious college student hoping to become an ophthalmic photographer and eye imaging expert. I wrote a piece for this blog back then about my experience at the 2011 Mid-Year program in Seattle, Washington. On June 15th, 2012, I graduated from the Ophthalmic Medical Technology program in Portland, Oregon, and four days later I was in New York City ready to begin my career.
(Photo Credit: Tom Reeves, COT)
I am now a full-time ophthalmic photographer at a major medical center in Manhattan. Prior to being employed in ophthalmology, my experience with ophthalmic photography was during my clinical rotations at patient care facilities throughout the Portland area. I have always tried to master any task in front of me as efficiently as possible, and I would like to share some thoughts about beginning in this field that people new to our profession and those working in our profession with the task of training new people would find beneficial.
First and foremost, I believe that staying organized and retaining relevant information is a crucial aspect of being a professional. With that in mind, I keep a small notebook with useful tidbits of knowledge, including the required protocols and methods of imaging for each sub-specialty in the department. The quick notes I’ve taken since beginning the job have already been extremely valuable to have as a reference.
I also keep a daily log of each set of image orders I process. With this I am able to solicit ongoing feedback from the doctors. As with any skill, developing proper form in the early stages tends to be of great benefit later on, and I’m always looking to improve my work. My goal is to provide exactly the information they need for the proper treatment of their patients.
There are skills in this field that are difficult to master and others that have been simplified by cutting-edge technology. Seven standard fields don’t always compare to the 200º view from the Optos. FAs and ICGs are now comfortably flash-free— they’re captured in a "point-and-shoot” style with the Heidelberg Spectralis in stills and video. Imaging orders come in electronically from doctors all over the department, including those on other floors. These tools enable us to work more effectively in a clinic that can see hundreds of patients in a day.
I am no longer a student, but every day I try to learn something new from other photographers, doctors, fellows, supervisors, and techs— even from working with different patients. I strive to keep an open mind, a sharp eye, and a gracious attitude. For those in this profession who are willing to train, lead, and mentor the next generation of eye imaging experts, you are adding great value to your practice.
(Pigmentary Retinopathy, Optos. Photo Credit: Rona Lyn Esquejo-Leon, CRA)
About the Author: Tom Reeves, COT, has an Associates of Applied Science degree in Ophthalmic Medical Technology. He is a member of the OPS, ATPO and just received his COT-level certification from JCAHPO. He lives and works in New York City.