The following is part of an ongoing series of interviews with New England College of Optometry alumni presented by the Office of Alumni Relations. This month’s installation features Matt Bauer, OD ‘09.
Become involved early and invest yourself in your education and profession… always question what you are doing to ensure you are representing patients who don’t have a voice.
Where are you currently living and practicing? Dr. Bauer: I live in St. Paul, Minnesota and I’m practicing at the Open Cities Health Center.
What are your current interests/hobbies? Dr. Bauer: Spending as much time as possible with my family!
Why were you drawn to a career in optometry? Dr. Bauer: When I was in 1st grade, I always wondered if I was the only “different” kid in the class. This changed when I received an eye exam and correction from my uncle who was an optometrist. Over the years, I made numerous visits to his office and was inspired by in his work. Eventually I decided to pursue optometry.
Please share some memorable moments and most valued experiences as a NECO student? Dr. Bauer: I really valued my clinical rotations at multiple community health centers. In addition, being involved in Student Council and several student groups at NECO was fun and kept me busy beyond my studies.
How have you kept in contact with fellow NECO alumni? Dr. Bauer: I attend regional and local meetings with NECO alumni. I serve as a regional member of the Alumni Association Board and stay connected through email and phone calls to colleagues and professors.
Please share some of your professional achievements. Dr. Bauer: Since I graduated, I have started a full-time eye clinic at a community health center. In addition, I have been a Board of Trustee member of the MN Optometric Association for last 4 years and had an article on Toxoplasmosis published in the Review of Optometry.
What has been your most interesting patient encounter? Dr. Bauer: I had a teenage patient who was a refugee and had never had an eye exam. Her parents were told she was “learning disabled.” Her Pt was +8.00 and vision was 20/100 without glasses and 20/40 with glasses. Her father said to me through an interpreter, “I know my daughter is smart.” I told him that I totally believed him and that I thought his daughter would be fine after wearing glasses. Many tears were shed during her eye exam. After years of follow up and alternating patching therapy, the patient was 20/25+ OD and OS. She graduated high school about a year behind her peers but otherwise has a normal/happy life. I am very proud to have made a difference in her life.
In your daily practice, how are you seeing the profession of optometry evolve? Dr. Bauer: OCT has become the gold standard of optometry in last 3-5 years. I also see drastic changes in how we treat DM retinopathy with anti-VEGF injections, which weren’t used much when I graduated seven years ago.
Fast forward 5-10 years. What are some of your professional goals? Dr. Bauer: I hope to expand our current community health center. I will also continue to be involved and expand my role within the MN Optometric Association.
What advice would you like to pass on to NECO students and recent graduates? Dr. Bauer: Become involved early and invest yourself in your education and profession. Make sure you continue to practice at the level you were taught and always question what you are doing to ensure you are representing patients who don’t have a voice.
In Their Own Words, is a series of interviews with NECO alumni presented by the Office of Alumni Relations. If you are interested in being featured, please contact Margery Warren at firstname.lastname@example.org.