Lansing, Mich. (December 20, 2015) –Though people have suffered from poor vision since the beginning of time, science and technology are now responding to the challenge in much more innovative ways. This new technology, combined with the aging of America (and their eyes), is creating opportunities like never before for people interested in getting into the vision healthcare field.
“People only have one set of eyes and it’s important to take care of them,” said Denise Kelsey, the business manager for TLC Eyecare in Lansing. “Our job is to save their vision, which is incredibly rewarding.”
The U.S. Census Bureau projects that the aging population (65+) will be twice as large in 2030 as it was in 2000, growing from 35 million to 72 million — representing nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population.
At the same time, a 2014 American Optometric Association survey finds that 78 percent of adults ages 55+ report experiencing some vision loss.
Translation: Many people will need vision care over the next few decades.
With 12 locations throughout Michigan and into Ohio, Kelsey says TLC Eyecare is always hiring. “I’ve been here five years and I can’t remember a time when we didn’t have a job posted,” she says. “And we also do a lot of promoting from within so if someone comes in as an assistant, they might go on to be a scribe or a tester or something else.”
Lansing Ophthalmology has ten offices and 260 employees, making it the largest privately held vision care practice in Michigan. Brenda Tryon, one of three clinical supervisors at Lansing Ophthalmology, has been working in the vision field for 27 years and she says it’s a stable profession that also remains exciting. “The technology is constantly changing and you can learn so much,” she says. “You think, ‘it’s just two little eyeballs, what could there be?’ but it’s an enormous issue with huge opportunities.”
Career Quest Learning Center, has accepted the challenge of preparing more people for an optical career with its new Ophthalmic Assistant diploma program. Upon completion of the 8-month program, graduates are proficient in the basics of eye exams, ocular testing, eye anatomy and administrative office functions, preparing them for the best ophthalmic assistant jobs.
Career Quest’s Ophthalmic Assistant program is blended (a combination of hands-on classroom experience with online education), includes out-of-class activities and an externship working for licensed professionals.
Kelsey says TLC Eyecare was very excited about the program and will partner with Career Quest for the externship program. “This gives students a chance to get a classroom education combined with the on-site learning we can give them,” she says, adding that the program will make hiring that much easier. “This way we don’t have to spend the time on basic training and knowledge when we hire. They can come in prepared and we can individualize their training for specific doctor requirements.”
Tryon echoes that. “We do a lot of hiring and very rarely do we receive resumes with much ophthalmic experiences, which means we have to train from scratch,” she says. “This new program will allow us to hire people with the right education, which is very exciting.”
Though Kelsey is on the business/administrative side, she has undertaken much of the same training the technicians do. “I wanted to know how to use it and to better understand what the medical side does,” she says. “It’s a very exciting time to be in the vision field. There’s new technology and new pharmaceuticals coming out every day.”
Lisa Rentz has been the director of marketing and patient relations for Lansing Ophthalmology for eight years, and has worked in marketing for 15. “This (eye care) is something everyone needs. Working here enables me to actually help people, which is not something you can always say about marketing jobs.”
Kelsey says the perfect candidates for a career in vision are self-motivated, eager to learn and multi-taskers. “If they want to have a career with a purpose, this is the way to go. At the end of the day, they get to say, ‘I helped them get the treatment they needed. I helped save their eyesight.’”
Tryon says that new candidates need to be skillful and intelligent, while also being compassionate and caring. “We have a lot of older people and it’s important that our staff members are able to patiently explain their options to them and help them find the eye care they need.”
For more information on Career Quest’s ophthalmic assistant program, call 877-481-4903 or visit http://www.careerquest.edu/courses-programs/healthcare/ophthalmic-assistant.