Are you looking for a career in optometry where you can address health inequities and impact lives in underserved communities across the country?
September 12: 8-9 p.m. ET
Join ACU, Prevent Blindness, and the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry for a webinar entitled, Community-Based Optometry Careers: Everything you need to know, on Tuesday, September 12th at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT to learn what it’s like to practice optometry in a community setting. During this 60-minute webinar, attendees will learn about federally qualified health centers (commonly referred to as “community health centers” or simply “health centers”), their mission to provide accessible and high-quality health and wellness services regardless of an individual’s ability to pay, and health centers’ connection to the Civil Rights Movement. Attendees will also get a chance to meet and discuss firsthand what it’s like to work at a health center and other community settings from the following optometrists:
- Debi Sarma, OD, Director of Eye Care Services, Codman Square Health Center
- John Fusselman, OD, Clinic Director, Suncoast Community Health Center
- Lindsey King, OD, Outreach Optometrist, Health Partners of Western Ohio
- Mary Kate Walters, OD, FAAO, Clinic Director, Northside Eye Care Center & Professor of Practice, University of Houston College of Optometry
- Rebecca Chown, OD, FAAO, Director of Community Outreach, Assistant Professor, Pacific University College of Optometry
- Sonia Menchavez, OD, MPH, Optometrist, Salud Para la Gente
Learn more about our presenters below.
Can’t wait for the webinar to learn more about health centers and ways you can get involved? Check out the following links:
- COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS: What is a Community Health Center?
- ACU’s Vision Services Committee: The Vision Services Committee guides ACU’s efforts to increase access to vision services areas. We are now accepting applications for up to 3 student members for a 2-year term. Learn more and submit your nomination by December 1st, 2023 here.
- ACU’s Career Center: The ACU Career Center provides a network of talented primary care professionals and administrative staff dedicated to providing patient-centered care to underserved communities across the nation. Optometrist job openings are also available on this page.
- FQHC and Community Optometry: This Facebook group provides a place for optometrists working in community health centers to network and discuss the unique challenges they face. Group members also post job openings for optometrists.
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF): Employees of community health centers are eligible for PSLF.
- Community Health Center Chartbook 2023 The annual Community Health Center Chartbook highlights data on Federally Qualified Health Centers, including Health Center Program Grantees and Look-alike organizations. The chartbook includes summary data on health center patients, services, staffing, quality outcomes, and impact on access to care and health equity.
Dr. Debi Sarma is a public health optometrist and community outreach specialist who helps high-need communities access eye and vision care support. After graduating from the New England College of Optometry, she went on to pursue a residency in community health optometry at DotHouse Health. She is currently the Director of Eye Care Services at Codman Square Health Center in Dorchester, MA. The Health center is unique in the country as it houses the Codman Academy Public Charter School where 345 students from kindergarten through high school receive an education as well. Dr. Sarma has experience in public health, teaching, webinar development, national mobile eye clinic operations, regulation and compliance, school-based clinics, and clinical precepting.
Dr. John Fusselman completed his undergraduate studies in Miami, FL before receiving his Doctorate in Optometry and Bachelors of Science in Optometry from the New England College of Optometry in Boston, MA. Upon graduation, he moved back to Florida and pursued practicing optometry in many different modalities: commercial settings, ophthalmology clinics and private offices. While working in these clinics he realized that many patients were asked to complete forms in English, a language they could not read. Recognizing this was poor patient care, Dr. Fusselman opened the first fully bilingual optometry practice in Central Florida, In 2015, Dr. Fusselman was approached to help develop a comprehensive vision service program for a new expansion of an FQHC in Central Florida, where patients with diabetes would be monitored for retinopathy at home. Previously, there was just one optometry clinic in an FQHC in Florida.
Dr. Lindsey King is a graduate of The Ohio State University College of Optometry. She has a deep passion for extending comprehensive eye care to those in underserved communities and those with limited access to care. She has helped build the full-scope vision care practice at Family Health Services Of Darke County where she served as Co Director of the Eyecare department from its inception in 2016 through March 2023. She then made the move to Health Partners of Western Ohio in April of 2023. Here she is the outreach optometrist in the Lima, Ohio area. She has always loved working with children and will be able to foster that by expanding vision services into Health Partners’ already existing outreach program in the Lima area schools. She is active in providing benefits to patients through Prevent Blindness America, Changing Lives Through Lenses, The Infant See Program and The Ohio Optometric Association’s Real Eyes Program.
Originally from Brenham, Texas, Dr. Mary Kate Walters attended Texas A&M University for undergraduate studies and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Development. She received her Doctor of Optometry from the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, TN and then completed an ocular disease residency at the Community Eye Clinic in Fort Worth, TX. Currently, Dr. Walters serves as a Professor of Practice at the University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO). She is the Clinic Director of the Northside Eye Care Center in Fort Worth. A partnership clinic of UHCO located inside of a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center (FQHC) that serves theunder-privileged patients of the Tarrant County community and is a student externship site for UHCO. Dr. Walters is a licensed Therapeutic Optometrist and Glaucoma Specialist, a Diplomate of the American Board of Optometry and a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry. She serves on numerous optometric committees at the local and state level, is the Co-Leader for the Health Professionals and Outcomes Workgroup on the Texas Diabetes Council, is an Advisory Board member for the Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth, provides educational seminars to the public regarding eye health and delivers Continuing Education Lectures to colleagues. Dr. Walters remains an active member of the Tarrant County Optometric Society, Texas Optometry Association, American Optometric Association, American Academy of Optometry, and Texas Public Health Vision Care Section among other organizations. Her favorite part of practicing is being able to help patients of all ages achieve their visual needs as well as helping students become excellent doctors of optometry.
Dr. Rebecca Chown is an assistant professor at Pacific University College of Optometry and the current Director of Community Outreach. She is the immediate past president of Oregon Foundation for Vision Awareness; the not for profit branch of Oregon Optometric Physicians Association helping underserved Oregonians access vision services. Dr. Chown received her doctorate of optometry from Pacific University College of Optometry in2003. She then served as a Captain in the United States Air Force for 3 years at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, AL, followed by 3 years at the Portland International Air Reserve Base. Dr. Chown’s practice experience includes owning and practicing at Indian Creek Family Eye Care; being an assistant professor at Oregon Health And Sciences University’s Casey Eye Institute; and being the sole owner of a Medicaid only vision clinic in Vancouver, Washington.
Dr. Sonia Menchavez received her Doctor of Optometry degree as well as her Master in Public Health at University of California, Berkeley. As Optometry Director, Dr. Menchavez designed and implemented novel in-house eye care services at Ravenswood Family Health Center in East Palo Alto, California. She now works as an optometrist at Salud Para La Gente in Watsonville, California. She also lectures on public health optometry for UC Berkeley School of Optometry. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, reading, dancing and spending time with her husband and two children.
Learn More About Our Eye Health and Vision Care Resources
With the generous support of the Centene Foundation for Quality Healthcare, the ACU is working with local, state, and national partners to increase access to the proper eye and vision care for underserved populations. We do this by bringing mobile vision vans to underserved communities, providing grants and technical assistance to health centers to help establish permanent eye and vision programs at service sites, and educating communities of underserved populations.