Fall 2018
Talking Heads group portrait Fall 2018

Lessons Learned
This season, we’re talking to ICO alumni who have recently received accolades in the profession. As your career changes and advances, what is one thing you learned at ICO that you still use every day?

Erik Mothersbaugh, OD ’12
Dean of Student Affairs, ICO

“One really important skill I developed at ICO was the ability to communicate differently depending on my audience. When I first started interacting with patients late in my first year, it was a challenge for me to connect because I wasn’t being very mindful of my word choice, tone, or mannerisms. I sought guidance from a faculty member on how to improve. That helped me develop my own style and philosophy as a clinician.

Over time, I became able to consider my audience before speaking and adjust appropriately. Was I taking a case history from a patient? Presenting findings to an attending? Brainstorming ideas with a classmate? Giving a tour to a prospective student? The right approach can vary greatly depending on the situation. To be honest, it has even paid dividends in my personal life.”


Molly Walker, OD ’09
Young Optometrist of the Year, Iowa Optometric Association

“Something I learned at ICO that I continue to use every day is talking my patients through their exams and making sure they understand. This is something we learned how to do during the first year. Our practical required that we explain aloud each test we were doing and why we were doing it. I remember thinking how silly I probably sounded. Nonetheless, because I knew ultimately that is what we would have to do for National Boards, I continued to do it.

Now, nearly 10 years after passing those National Boards, I find myself continuing this skill. My patients sincerely appreciate knowing what I’m doing and why each step is an important part of their exam. I have found that children, especially, respond extremely well to this. So much of their apprehension is the fear of the unknown. So, when I tell my young patients, ‘The next thing we are going to do is a special test to make sure your eyes work together as a team,’ they are much more relaxed, confident. This skill that I learned my first year at ICO continues to help me achieve a better exam experience for both my patients and for me, their optometrist.”


Mamie Chan, OD ’00
Optometrist of the Year, New Mexico Optometric Association

“Ummm… everything? First, having so many preceptors allowed me to experience different approaches for performing techniques and problem solving- for instance, being of such short stature. I learned different options of BIO viewing, slit lamp exam, contact lens insertions, etc., and I’ve picked the best of all those options. I honestly am thankful daily that I’ve learned techniques that make me feel ergonomically comfortable with my size.

Also, we inextricably relied on each other as students. Some of the closest friends I have are from ICO, and I still bounce ideas off them all the time. Whether it’s a weird zebra case, a practice management approach, or a silly meme that only we would understand, we’re there for each other.

I feel fortunate that ICO allowed me to see such a diverse ethnic, socioeconomic, and ocular disease population. I feel prepared for anything that might walk through my door…but truly, the main lesson I learned from ICO is that we never stop learning.”


Scott Greder, OD ’99
President, Nebraska Optometric Association

“If I had to pick one thing that I learned at ICO, it would probably be the importance of the dilated fundus examination. I feel that it was an extremely high priority of the faculty at ICO to produce optometrists that were adept at diagnosing and managing ocular disease. I use the skills I learned at ICO every day to evaluate why someone may not be seeing 20/20. Of course, without dilation, it is much more difficult to see cataracts and evaluate the vitreous, macula, optic nerve, and the peripheral retina. I am grateful my ICO education drilled into my head that an eye examination with dilation was the standard of care for our patients. This emphasis has allowed me to practice full scope optometry in a medically-focused practice.”

Comments are closed.