Delgado A-Z: Ophthalmic Medical Assistant

By: Dee Shedrick
Medical assistants work in doctors' offices and various healthcare facilities completing administrative and clinical duties. Their responsibilities depend on their specialty and size of practice. While most assistants document patient history, schedule patient appointments and fill out insurance forms, ophthalmic medical assistants help optometrists (who treat minor eye problems and prescribe glasses and contact lenses) or ophthalmologists (who are medical doctors that perform surgeries) with patient eye care. Ophthalmic medical assistants do have simple obligations like contact lens instruction and sterilizing surgical instruments. But they can also have more complex duties like administering medication, repairing eyeglasses and aiding in diagnosing conditions, such as red eye or astigmatisms. Delgado Community College has been preparing over a dozen ophthalmic medical students each fall for the past 15 years to work in this demanding field.

"Students often choose ophthalmic medical assisting because it offers a number of career pathways," said Francesca Langlow, assistant professor and ophthalmic medical assistant program director. And even though most of the fields require some additional education, graduates continue to pursue work beyond ophthalmic medical assisting; for example, there are ophthalmic photographers, equipment manufacturers technical and education reps, low vision specialists, pharmaceutical sales reps, coding specialists, surgical techs and practice administrators. Still many of the graduates choose to work in the traditional role of an ophthalmic assistant in an ophthalmologist’s office. "I have always recommended that students choose something that gives them a lot of options and this field does."
Exam chair located in the ophthalmic medical assistant program's lab in the allied health building
Ophthalmic medical assisting is also very attractive because ophthalmology is one of the few “blood-less” medical fields.  The eyes rarely bleed, so for students who are interested in working in health care, but do not want to deal with or see blood, this job is perfect for them.

Most of the program’s graduates remain in the Greater New Orleans area. Dr. Jeffrey Singer, who is best known for performing laser eye surgery, has six or seven graduates that have worked in his office for more than 10 years. Ochsner Ophthalmology and Tulane Ophthalmology are also some of the better known ophthalmology providers in the area who have hired Delgado graduates. And even though Kung Parc, who graduated in 2009, enrolled in optometry school at the University of California, he plans to move back home to work with low income patients.

Standard eye test chart
Students who graduate with their certificate of technical studies in ophthalmic medical assisting usually work in the industry for a long time and Langlow is a prime example. "I graduated from Louisiana State University's School of Allied Health with a Bachelor of Science degree in ophthalmic medical technology and a master’s degree in healthcare administration from the University of New Orleans.  I worked for several years at the LSU Eye Center in the clinical trials unit. I have been at Delgado teaching the ophthalmic medical assisting program since 1999. I absolutely love my job, the students, my colleagues and Delgado.  It is so rewarding to see the program’s graduates working and excelling in their field," said Langlow. 

Langlow is also married to an ophthalmologist who specializes in glaucoma and practices in St. Tammany Parish.

1 comment:

  1. medical assistants indeed play a significant role in healthcare industry,.,

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