Dr. Julie Schornack has been interviewing applicants at SCCO for more than 25 years. She is the Vice President and Dean of Clinical Affairs and also has the title of Assistant Professor. I interviewed her a few years back about what she looks for in an interviewing applicant. Since she continues to facilitate many interviews each year, I dug this article out of my archives to share with you here. She discloses much about how she goes about the process. Taken from a 2009 interview, her thoughts remain interesting and relevant:
Dr. Schornack plays a major role as facilitator for applicant interviews. When asked what she looks for in an applicant, she replies, “To meet the person that’s not on the paper. I want to learn about their character, their choices, how they’ve navigated their life. Have they looked at their life critically to see if they understand how their life has formed them? I want them to be reflective and contemplative about X, Y and Z. I want to know why they want to go into patient care, whether they understand the demands of interacting with people. Patients aren’t laboratory fruit flies and as such, daily patient care is different from some of the interaction they’ve had in their science education thus far. Do they understand this? Do they know that the power of their words can influence a patient’s behavior? Can they be an authority figure, a doctor?”
“I like to talk about their shadowing experience and ask them to contrast and compare what they’ve experienced in their visits to different practices. Optometry is practiced in diverse ways. Have they witnessed this diversity? I want to know that they’ve thought about the good, bad and ugly of optometry” explains Dr. Schornack.
She likes to discuss an applicant’s outside interests, “Hobbies and interests show the multidimensional sides of a person. I also like to hear prepared and thoughtful questions from the applicant in the interview setting.”
When asked about what she looks for in an applicant’s preparedness, she is quick to state, “I expect them to bring their A-game to the interview. It’s OK to be a little quiet, shy and a little nervous but I expect, even though they are a young person, to see professional potential shine through. I look at this as a promissory note — as this young person matures, they are on the road to developing a command of their future. Will they interact successfully with other health care professionals? Will they actively seek and accept leadership roles? Are they able to conceptualize about the tremendous change they will embrace as the steward of a patient’s healthcare and eyesight? It’s not going to be just about them anymore. This isn’t a job, it’s a profession.”
Dr. Schornack grew up in Chicago. She started her college career as a biology major at Loyola University in Chicago with plans to go into medicine. In her sophomore year, she volunteered to work in a hospital where she worked alongside medical interns and residents. This provided her the opportunity to pose that all-important question, “Would you still go into medicine knowing what you know now?” To her surprise, the “No’s” prevailed. That started her thinking about other possibilities for a career choice in healthcare.
She considered nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine and even medical illustrator before deciding on optometry. She double majored in biology and English and then took one year off after undergrad and benefited from additional exposure to optometry by managing a commercial optical business. She then entered Illinois College of Optometry to complete her O. D. degree and directly after, obtained her M.Ed. in Education from Pacific University which emphasized the visual aspects of learning.
As far as her role at SCCO’s Eye Care Center with patient care, “Everyday is different — patients, peers, staff interactions and students! I enjoy the vitality and newness with each day being different. Optometry has given me a way to balance the demands of my professional life along with my family life. This was my objective from the start. Optometry was a perfect choice for me. My advice for any person making a career choice would be to make sure it matches up with the lifestyle that YOU are looking for. I wanted flexibility, free time, a stimulating intellectual challenge, autonomy and variety. Optometry has been a great choice.”
To read more about Dr. Julie Schornack, click here.
To watch a video recorded by Dr. Schornack, click here.