This summer, Pacific University’s College of Optometry welcomed 54 international students to the to the Forest Grove campus, to participate in the inaugural year of Advanced Applied Vision Science (AAVS) workshop program.
The AAVS workshop program was created last year by the College of Optometry, with the intent of assisting eye care doctors from China in continuing their education through month long specialty programs.
According to the Dean of the College of Optometry Jennifer Coyle, a total of 54 eye care specialists and doctors from China were enrolled in this year’s AAVS workshop program, which ran from April to July.
“We started the program by focusing on vision therapy, pediatrics and vision rehabilitation,” Coyle said. “Then we provided a one-month workshop on clinic operations and management that included lectures given by an educator from the College of Business, and in-depth discussions about building vision therapy, contact lenses and other specialty services. We also worked with community outreach.”
Those enrolled in the AAVS workshop program were given the opportunity to tour American optometric practices, and made visits to Pacific Cataract, the Laser Institute and other facilities in Oregon.
The College of Optometry was additionally planning on introducing a new Bachelors of Applied Vision Science (BAVS) program to its curriculum at the start of this 2018-19 academic year, however, recent events have temporarily postponed the program’s start date to next year.
“Due to changes in the business priorities of our major start-up donor, we are postponing the implementation of the BAVS program for one year,” Coyle said. “We are focused on recruiting 25 students for our inaugural class in the BAVS program, starting in 2019-2020.”
The BAVS program will eventually see undergraduate students from China, who have attained three years of optometry or vision science training, come to Pacific for a block curriculum of 44 credits in optometry over the course of a year. Those who complete the BAVS program will in turn receive a baccalaureate in vision science from Pacific.
“Our learners from China have a lot of support,” Coyle said. “We have a coordinator who is bilingual, our faculty and staff have received intercultural communication training, and many members of our faculty actually speak Mandarin.”
According to Coyle, students for the BAVS program will come from multiple institutions, including the Tianjin Vocational Institute, NanKai University, the Shandong University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Da Yeh University, in Taiwan.
“Our experience getting to know and teach the learners this summer reinforced the idea that helping transform and expand eye care in China is greatly needed and appreciated,” Coyle said. “And we really enjoyed learning from them as well.”
Coyle is excited for another productive year ahead with the College of Optometry, which was recently nationally recognized.
“The National Optometric Association honored us the ‘Optometry School of the Year,’” Coyle said. “Recognizing our efforts to promote diversity, and care for the underserved in our communities.”