Pearls From Former Students
The Duke OpTech program opened my eyes to the careers available in ophthalmology and there are many different pathways that you can take. I have experienced this first hand, starting out as a tech on the floor and progressing to Team Lead. From there, there was an additional opportunity to be clinic manager for the entire clinic. There is a lot of job security with becoming an ophthalmic technician because the field has grown so much.- Lee Ann McKinney, COT, Clinic Operations Manager
If you are considering applying for the program, do it. There are so many opportunities that come from the OpTech program at Duke. It is challenging, but the rewards and benefits are substantial. It is only a year, and after that you can work right away, that’s amazing. It is also very rewarding to follow the progress on the patient’s treatment and to see their vision improve and to know you are making a difference.
-Judith Ramirez, COT
There was an immense sense of pride finishing the Duke OpTech program, finishing it well, and becoming certified afterward. I am pursuing a career that I enjoy and get to work with a variety of patients. I have been moving toward photography and am very interested in it. I showed a 14-year-old the photography of the inside her eye and she thought that was very cool. Not many people get to see that. It’s interesting and I look forward to further pursuing ophthalmic photography as a next step in my career.-Henry Cameron, COT
I have always had a desire to serve my community, and with my family history of visual impairment, I thought that the field of ophthalmology would be a great way for me to serve members in my community. After graduation, I look forward to being able to work along side ophthalmologist in educating, treating, and possibly preventing vision loss and eye disease.
Before starting the program, I was working a job that I had gotten comfortable with, but wanted to do something different. In my research, I learned about the Duke Ophthalmic Technician program, and thought that it was a perfect fit for me. I was also interested in the fact that it was an accelerated program, meaning that I had the ability to start this new career sooner, with the reputation of Duke University as a bonus.
The program has been life-changing. I know it sound like a cliche, but it is true. The class room part, or "bootcamp", was by far the most intense thing I have ever done in my life. But now that I am in the midst of my clinical rotations, I appreciate those reading assignments and lectures. I am able to see so much pathology in the clinic, and able to get use all of the skills that I learned about in class. The rotations so far have been great as well. My mentors take the time to continue to educate me, and let me dive right in with assisting and leading exams. I am able to get a taste of what it will be like after graduation, and I cannot wait to begin this new career!
Wendy Moore, Candidate for Ophthalmic Technician Certification
"A few words I’d like to say about the program is that going through this program was easily one of the best decisions I could’ve made for myself. Today I’m working with some great coworkers, and just 7 months in I have the opportunity to become certified in refractive surgery suite, now working along side and assisting some talented ophthalmologists. I can honestly say I made the right choice in choosing this program and am lucky they chose me. I’m continuing to grow in my career, and have realized you’re never limited. Take the leap even if you’re hesitant, and everything else will follow."
-Emily Reich, Class of 2017
"I have enjoyed my career as a certified Ophthalmic technician. The learning was part of the experience, I was glad to challenge my brain and push myself on many different levels."
"I still try and keep learning, there are so many fascinating aspects of the eye. Part of the job I enjoy the most are the patients. They are so grateful for your care. Especially in low vision clinics."
"Always spend a little time to get to know your patient even though you might feel pressure to get through an exam quickly. You will learn to be efficient and offer a quality exam."
"Good luck to everyone in your future endeavors. Hope you enjoy coming into work every day like I have!"
-Janet Teng, Class of 2017
Hard work and gratitude must be applied everyday, for they will be the keys to your success in all areas of your journey.
Everything you are exposed to will be beneficial even if it doesn't register with you right away. Hindsight is always 20/20 (pun intended).
Remember how unique this program is and how fortunate you are to be learning at one of the greatest Eye Centers in the world. Ask questions, take chances and be fearless.
Becoming efficient in ancillary testing is vital to success, regardless of what specialty you choose to work in. Going from A to Z increases your value and stock and makes you worth investing in.
Duke carries a world of respect in this industry. You should always strive to uphold that standard. You are representing Duke everywhere you go.
After graduation last year I relocated to the New York Capital Region and started my employment with the largest private practice in the area. We have 10 doctors and 5 locations - specializing in Retina, Glaucoma, Cataract, comprehensive care and laser surgery.
In May of 2018 I accepted the position of Clinical Lead Technician and Assistant Clinical Supervisor of our largest office located in Albany - just 10 months after graduation!
I am truly amazed that I was able to land a management position in less than a year but I know it was because of the foundation that I built at Duke.
There is no substitute for hard work and a positive attitude.
- Joseph Calcagno, Class of 2017