In an attempt to help combat China’s public health crisis with eye and vision care, Pacific University’s College of Optometry will welcome both eye care specialists and students from China to the Forest Grove campus in 2018 for additional training, education and clinical practice.
“Optometric education in China has only been going on for 40 years, when in comparison our college will be celebrating its 100 year anniversary in three years,” Director of the Applied Vision Science Program and Vision Performance Institute Dr. Shun-Nan Yang said. “We are known for our clinical instruction and education, so we are in a very good position to help universities in China teach their students to become good optometrists.”
Yang, who helped establish connections with universities in China, said the College of Optometry’s newly created programs will help eye care specialists from China advance in their professional development through a series of three one-month-long specialty programs. Current or graduated students from associated optometric programs in China will also be enrolled into a year-long undergraduate degree program to learn advanced knowledge and skills in optometry.
“Unfortunately, many undergraduate optometry programs in China only train students for three years,” Yang said. “They receive training for two years and then do one year of clinic or hospital rotations, and that’s the extent of their education. They do not receive a bachelor degree for it.”
The College of Optometry’s new program will allow students from China, who have completed at least 80 credit hours of required course work in humanity, social sciences,
natural sciences and optometry, to come to Pacific for a block curriculum of 44 credits in optometry over the course of a year. The Chinese students who then complete the yearlong program will in turn receive a baccalaureate in applied vision science from Pacific.
According to Yang, the College of Optometry has been working to prepare for the arrival of the first group of 25 to 30 Chinese students enrolled in the degree program, who will join Pacific’s Forest Grove campus during the 2018-19 school year.
“We have done some intercultural workshops where we trained our professors and staff to know more about China and our Chinese students,” Yang said. “We’re also going to provide orientations to the Chinese students when they come, about life here in the United States, cultural differences and how to adjust to their new environment.”
Yang said he hopes to see the College of Optometry grow to become more inclusive with its services and expand to offer the same resources to an even larger group of students worldwide. He said he is also looking forward to the new group of Chinese students joining the campus community in the fall.
“It’s going to be exciting, but at the same time the university and community need to be accommodating and maybe even patient to our future students,” Yang said. “It’s going to create some minor challenges for students and faculty, change is hard, but it’s also going to create opportunities.”