New England College of Optometry, NECO, welcomed ten students from Wenzhou Medical University in Wenzhou, China as part of the second annual Global Health Leadership Development program (GHLDP) in July. The four week program represents a joint partnership between Wenzhou Medical University, New England College of Optometry, and SUNY College of Optometry.
NECO has been affiliated with Wenzhou for over thirty years, offering a joint MS/OD degree program for Chinese ophthalmology/optometry students. In addition, the College sends faculty to teach courses at Wenzhou and maintains clinical rotations for fourth year students at the Chinese university.
The GHLDP was started in 2015 to allow optometry/ophthalmology students from China to learn about the state of optometry around the world, as well as American culture and its influence on the American healthcare system. Participants are chosen for their demonstrated leadership skills and interest in US health and vision care issues. During the GHLDP, students attend programming at NECO for two weeks before traveling to the SUNY College of Optometry for an additional two weeks of lectures, visits, and optometric education.
This year, the program at NECO ran from July 11, 2016 to July 22, 2016. Students were welcomed to the college by Dr. Meng Xu, Dr. Guang Ji Wang, Dr. Bina Patel, and Dr. Robert DiMartino. President Clifford Scott joined the group for a welcome luncheon.
During their time in Boston, the students toured Harvard University, MIT, Polymer Technology, Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston, Perkins School for the Blind, NECO research labs, and Schepens Institute. They also observed special clinics, community health centers, optometry practices, and hospitals to deepen their understanding of health care concerns within the context of cultural, social, economic, and public health issues. Clinical site visits including Perkins School for the Blind, Lynn Community Health Center, Charles River Community Health, Codman Community Health, South Boston Community Health, and East Boston Community Health Center.
One participant observed specific differences between optometric care in the US and China on a visit to the Codman Square Health Center. “What amazed us was that the service was like a stream-lined one-stop process, which meant they examined the patients’ best corrected visual acuity in one room, and then transferred them to the next room to do the OCT examination,” she observed. “It is quite different from what we do in China, where we always exam the superficial problems of the patients’ eyes with slit lamps in the doctor’s consulting room, like the pterygium, conjunctival inflammations, and so on. But if we suspect the patient may have problems in deeper issues of the eye, we usually send them to the exam rooms and ask some specialized doctors to the examinations, like the funduscopy, the IOL-master, the visual field, the ERG and so on.”
Lecture topics during the two weeks included HIPPA compliance, “Understanding of Visual Impairment and Visual Loss” with Dr. Nicole Ross, “Color Vision Workshop” with Dr. Thanasis Panorgias and “Personal Experience with Vision Loss” with Blair Wong. In addition, Jack McHale from Orbis International shared his insights about the work ORBIS does to provide access to quality eye care through their flying hospital. Students also had a lab visit with Dr. Fuensanta Vera Diaz, took part in a schleral workshop with Dr. Andrew McLeod and a “Telehealth” session with Dr. Tony Cavallerano, and attended a Clinical Reasoning class with Dr. Diane Russo and OD3 students, working with NECO students to present cases. The program at NECO culminated with research poster presentations prepared by the visiting scholars, the presentation of certificates, and a dinner for the participants. After finishing the two weeks at New England College of Optometry, the students travelled to New York for the remained of the program at SUNY College of Optometry.
About New England College of Optometry
New England College of Optometry is an independent graduate college of optometry that educates students for careers in eye care delivery, research and education. Located in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston, New England College of Optometry is the oldest college of optometry in the country. This small, independent graduate institution has been advancing optometric education, patient care, and public health since 1884. The New England College of Optometry is accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) of the American Optometric Association (a member of the Council of Post-Secondary Accreditation) and the New England Association of Schools & Colleges, Inc. (NEASC).
Media Contact: Ingrid Hoogendoorn, Director of Communications