Three years ago, we started the Adopt a Patient program to provide third and fourth year optometry students the opportunity for an additional hands-on fitting experience. The program also benefits prospective contact lens patients who are otherwise unable to afford contact lenses.
Each third year student in participating schools is encouraged to “adopt” a deserving patient into the program. The patient will be fit with CooperVision soft contact lenses and followed up with visits throughout the student’s clinic time at the school. The patient also receives a complimentary year’s supply of lenses from CooperVision (all lenses are available except for those with opaque or enhancing tints).
After a year, patients are eligible for re-adoption by a student from the next year’s class. The primary target audience for the Adopt a Patient program is teenage patients who demonstrate need for contact lenses and come from low income families. Older patients are not excluded from the program, but recruitment is up to the discretion of the clinic supervisor.
Launa Kind, the Adopt a Patient program office administrator at Pacific University agrees that the program is a win-win situation for all parties involved. “Most of our Adopt a Patient participants are kids and teenagers with high astigmatism or anisometropia, a condition that is preferably treated with contact lenses (versus spectacles). Without this program, they truly would not have been able to afford contact lenses. Our patients that have received lenses have been most thankful, and our students are gaining valuable, real-world experience.”
Wesley Crocket, current 4th year optometry student, had a great experience in the program last year. “I adopted a 9 year old boy with a large hyperopic astigmatic correction in his glasses. He was complaining that his lenses kept falling out of his frames and that they made his eyes look really big. He really wanted to wear contact lenses but his mother was unemployed at the time, and unable to pay for contacts. I advised him to practice touching his eye and keeping his hands clean. A few weeks later, he came back in and I fit him in Biofinity Toric lenses. He did great with them! When he returned a week later for his follow up appointment, it seemed as if his self esteem grew leaps and bounds. He talked about how everyone at school though it was ‘so cool’ that he was wearing contacts, and that his classmates couldn’t even tell that he had anything in his eye. I think for this young hyperopic kid, being able to wear contacts changed his life.”
Today, the program is operating in 6 optometry schools across the country, benefitting approximately 300 patients. If you’re an optometry student or professor and want to get your school involved in our Adopt a Patient program, please email me at email@example.com.