After spending four years in snowy Rochester, New York, a summer
in North Carolina is quite the change of pace. As a student of the Biomedical
Photographic Communications major at RIT, a co-op or internship requirement was
my last requirement to fulfill before officially graduating and entering the
workforce. Sarah Moyer, an RIT alum, graciously agreed to take me on as an
intern this summer at the prestigious Kittner Eye Center at UNC Chapel Hill.
Because UNC is such a teaching and research-based institution, I knew that the
opportunities to observe and learn would be great. Thanks to the innovative
clinical studies and patients traveling from all over the state, I was finally
able to apply my academic studies and image a wide variety of pathology,
ranging from macular degeneration to Stargardt’s Disease, on all types of
instruments. It has been thrilling to implement my knowledge in a real-world
clinical environment, where my actions directly impact and help patients every
Patient care is vital to ophthalmology, a field with a high amount
of geriatric patients. After imaging over 200 patients in just 5 weeks, I’ve
realized that the top three essentials to providing a positive experience are
patience, clarity, and comfort. An ophthalmic imager must be calm and patient,
which puts the patient at ease. This allows the patient to ask you questions so
they are not in the dark about their own medical care. Clarity is a skill I’ve
honed over time- when I first began speaking to patients, I would quickly speak
in detail about the test. As I’ve continued working, I’ve learned what the
patients want to know most, and whittled down my pre-imaging "spiel” to
the essentials, speaking slowly and clearly. This ensures they aren’t
overwhelmed by the information I’ve just given them. My final realization is
that a comfortable patient is a happy one. If the patient is struggling
physically or emotionally, it will affect their cooperation with the imaging.
In college, I learned about and practiced with mydriatic fundus cameras
and one spectral domain OCT machine. When I got to the Kittner Eye
Center, I was trained on two OCT machines, in addition to a non-mydriatic, a
mydriatic, and a widefield fundus camera that I now use on a daily basis.
I was also exposed to anterior segment OCT, corneal topography, specular
microscopy, full-field and multi-focal ERG, slit-lamp imaging, external
photography, visual fields and even animal imaging. My biggest struggle on the
mydriatic fundus camera was adjusting my working distance to avoid artifacts in
my images. As for the widefield camera, learning to hold patients’ eyelids and
achieve the largest field of view was something I had never done before, and
proved to be challenging. There are so many instruments being utilized every
day by the rest of the imaging staff, and through careful training, I have been
able to expand my technical skills and knowledge. While learning these new
processes can sometimes be frustrating, I have learned to take mistakes in
stride and continue to ask questions. No one starts off perfectly, and
remembering that has been both humbling and encouraging.
As I wrap up a very hot but wonderful summer here at UNC, I’d like
to thank Sarah Moyer, Houston Sharpe III, Rona Esquejo-Leon, Debra Cantrell,
and the rest of the Kittner Eye Center staff, faculty, residents, fellows, and
patients for being so welcoming and supportive. I am sincerely appreciative and
grateful for everyone who has helped me get here, and cannot wait to take the
next step into the world of ophthalmic imaging.
About the Author: Joyce Kasab is a recent graduate of the Rochester Institute of
Technology Class of 2016, majoring in Biomedical Photographic Communications.
Originally from Long Island, New York, she is interning at the UNC Kittner Eye Center
in Chapel Hill, North Carolina until August 2016.