This year proved noteworthy for Pacific University’s College of Optometry with two alumni and two faculty members recognized for their contributions to the profession.
The Oregon Optometrists Physicians Association Board named alumnus Scott Nehring ’79, O.D.’83 the 2011 Optometric Physician of the year and presented Associate Dean for Clinical Programs Ken Eakland ’84 with the 2011 Agost-Minnick Award.
Cathy Evans, Pacific’s director of ophthalmics services, and alumna Dori Carlson, O.D. ’89 were named Vision Monday’s 50 Most Influential Women in Optical.
Carlson became the first female president of the American Optometric Association and practices in North Dakota.
Vision Monday, a prominent publication in the profession known especially for news content, interviewed Evans after receiving 14 nominations sent from professionals throughout the industry and included her in the section for influential mentors. The publication stated that “she represents Pacific University with positive influence to the communities around Portland and overseas. Cathy Evans is an excellent role model for all who come in contact and work with her.”
Much of Evans’s positive influence in the Portland area stems from her work, teaching in the classroom and running the five Pacific Eye Trends clinics located in Forest Grove, Cornelius, Hillsboro, Beaverton and Portland.
“Optometry students need to realize how a prescription is filled is as important as the prescription itself,” she said.
After more than 37 years in optical, she has learned a lot and is ready to pass her knowledge along to her students.
“Pacific is a great place,” said Evans. “Working at Pacific makes me feel like this is the payday that I’ve worked hard for all my life. I’m lucky to be here.”
As for keep influence overseas, Evans will travel to Costa Rica this spring as a third-time participant in Pacific’s Amigos program.
Every spring break, faculty and students from the College of Optometry travel abroad to provide eye exams and eyewear to those who can’t afford it. This year, Pacific groups will make trips to Honduras, Costa Rica, Belize and Nicaragua during spring break.
“There is nothing that compares to how great you feel when you make a difference in someone’s life,” Evans said.
Evans said she always wants to be involved in the program. Other future goals include continuing to help students grow and to make Pacific Eye Trends the “gold standard in optical.”
She said, “I’m honored. I hope I live up to it,” in regards to her award. “A lot of people love what they do but very few get recognized for it.”
Evans came to Pacific from Alaska after speaking with Eakland, who was also recognized for his outstanding contributions to the field.
Eakland received the prestigious OOPA Agost-Minnick Award for his service working on issues related to third party eye care benefits. He has been traveling frequently and working to develop a curriculum to educate optometrists on the changing health care reform laws—and that’s in addition to all the work he does at Pacific.
At Pacific, he oversees the management of Pacific’s five community clinics, serves as the Externship Director and is the Residency Director for the College of Optometry’s nine residency programs.
Another passion of his is keeping the classrooms and clinics up-to-date with the latest technology.
“I’m an early adopter,” Eakland admited. “Students need to be exposed to the cutting edge of what the healthcare system is doing so when they walk out of here, they have the tools and the knowledge to face challenges,” he said.
Eakland was largely responsible for converting Pacific to an electronic health records system, helped build the Great Western Council of Optometry student program, and increased clinical numbers.
Eakland has been invaluable in opening the new clinic in Beaverton—“the first eye and vision care practice ever devoted primarily to vision problems associated with the use of three-dimensional media technology,” according to American Optometric Association News.
However, “I think what I love the most is teaching.”
He said he enjoys studying learning styles and changing up the traditional classroom setting, focusing on the long-term conceptualization of knowledge. “How do you train a person to learn?” Eakland asked.
When he received his award, “it was the first time in many years I was speechless,” he said.
Pacific optometry school graduate, Scott Nehring, received the 2011 Optometric Physician of the year award 28 years after graduating from Pacific. the award is selected based on service to the public and the optometry profession.
After graduation in 1983, Nehring went into private practice. He owns a private practice in Woodburn where he recently hired Pacific College of Optometry graduate Irina Stignei.
“Optometry has allowed me to blend my interests of math and science, and being able to work with people and help people made optometry a natural fit for me,” Nehring explained.
Nehring attended Pacific for both his undergraduate education and optometry school. He appreciated the solid base he received at Pacific, and enjoyed studying and playing basketball during his time here.
“The way I was treated at Pacific allowed me to grow. It allowed me to be a good doctor and go out into the world and treat people well,” said Nehring.
This was beneficial in building a practice from the ground up. Now, in his 50s and thinking about retiring in the next 10 years, he would like to transition his practice into the hands of a young optometrist.
In addition to operating his private clinic, Nehring recently assumed the presidency of GWCO because he thinks “giving back to your profession on a volunteer basis is one of the most important things you can do.”
“It allowed me to earn a living and provided complete gratification,” said Nehring. “This profession provided me with a lot. This is my way of giving back.”
Students and faculty of the College of Optometry continue to demonstrate excellence, making the institution a positive presence in the field of optometry.