This article is part of a continuing series featuring newly minted SCCO Alumni. For applicants, these stories should help you project yourself into your future in optometry and thus, help you develop tangible ways to talk about yourself and your goals in the interview. As you read this article, try to find elements of your own story within, which will help you find words and images to articulate and tell your story come interview-time.
SCCO Alumnus, Stephanie Woo, O.D., F.A.A.O., F.S.L.S., Class of 2011, has become quite an accomplished young doctor of optometry. Dr. Woo, a graduate of University of Arizona, became interested in optometry by shadowing her hometown optometrist. Dr. Woo explains, “As a pre-optometry student, shadowing experience was invaluable. Shadowing allowed me to see what optometrists get to do each day and I realized what a difference an optometrist can make in a patient’s life. I loved that optometry is mostly low stress and that an optometrist can make a difference on THAT very same day the patient presents with their problem—how many problems in life can be fixed right away?! And patients love going to their eye doctor! I felt like optometry was a great fit for me.”
Currently Dr. Woo enjoys her time working in a private practice in her hometown of Lake Havasu, AZ, where she hopes to obtain partnership. When not seeing patients, she works and lectures for Blanchard Contact Lens, which she describes as “an incredible opportunity” and plans to expand her involvement with other contact lens companies. She is a monthly contributor to the AOA Contact Lens and Cornea Section Newsletter and was recently accepted into the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) as a Fellow—a high honor within the optometric community. To become a Fellow of the AAO, a doctor of optometry must be recognized by their colleagues as knowledgeable, and as having met the high standards of professional competence in a broad range of issues related to eye care. The letters “FAAO” after an optometrist’s name signify to his or her colleagues and patients that rigorous qualifications for Fellowship have been met. Congratulations Dr. Woo! As with any profession however, there is always room for growth and change. When asked about immediate future goals, Dr. Woo explains, “I would like to one day own and run my own practice. I would love to continue to see regular comprehensive eye exams, problem-focused exams, and build my specialty contact lens practice.”
Though already on the track to being accomplished and recognized as a new Alumnus, Dr. Woo has high aspirations for the years to come. In the next 10 years, she would like to open her own practice and be more extensively involved with GP Lens Institute (GPLI) (http://www.gpli.info/. The GPLI is an educational division of the Contact Lens Manufacturers Association (CLMA), which is dedicated to providing practitioners with educational and practice-building resources to enable them to fully benefit from the many advantages of custom contact lenses. She would also like to become a regular lecturer at conferences and hopes to be awarded the esteemed Diplomate status within the American Optometric Foundation, in the discipline of Cornea and Contact Lens. To become a Diplomate, optometrists must submit multiple case studies, pass a written exam, pass an oral exam, and pass a clinical exam to demonstrate superior knowledge about the cornea and contact lenses—a perfect example of how optometrists are life-long learners.
When asked about her experience at SCCO, Dr. Woo answers, “I received a top-notch clinical and textbook education at SCCO. It was a great experience all around. It was challenging at times. I look back on those four years and can remember all the pre-clinic lab proficiencies, and the multitude of exams. Oh, and NBEO board exams!” When asked what she wished she would have paid more attention to during her time here at SCCO, she answers, “Vision Therapy and Practice Management courses.” I see so many kids in practice now, and many of them may benefit from Vision Therapy. Also, since I want to own a practice someday, some of the resources taught in my practice management classes would have been helpful had I absorbed more of that particular education.” When asked about unfounded fears she may have had as a new student, she explained that she remembers being worried that she would be unable to master the different ophthalmic instruments used to examine patients. She smiles as she thinks back on that fear now. “With practice, anyone can become great at the many skills an optometrist is required to master” is what Dr. Woo is pleased to report.
As for her free time, Dr. Woo likes traveling, wine tasting and cooking. She has visited many countries including Thailand, China, Peru, Italy, Greece, Philippines, Japan, Australia, France, Hong Kong, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, The Netherlands, and Spain. When asked what her favorite country is, she is quick with her answer: “Thailand—the food is amazing, the culture is great, the weather is beautiful, and it very easy to communicate with people! But I have many other countries I’d like to explore in the future!” As for wine tasting, Dr. Woo has been to many wineries within the United States and internationally. “My favorite wine tour was in Spain—we got a private tour of a small production vineyard and got to sample many wines that couldn’t be found in stores.” She also loves to cook. She became passionate about cooking during college. “I found cooking as a great way to mentally relax from school. It became a passion of mine, and I am constantly trying new recipes and looking for new kitchen gadgets.”
SCCO is proud to claim such accomplished doctor as an Alumnus—we know Dr. Stephanie Woo will achieve all her goals and much more.