Tracy L. Matchinski, OD, FAAO, FVI
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Like so many others, I have been watching the devastation unfold in Texas and Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. In addition to personal accounts from family in the area, social media platforms such as Facebook have provided us all a personal glimpse into the lives of people that have had to evacuate their homes, lost their business, cars, the list goes on and on.
VOSH stands for Volunteer Optometric Services to HUMANITY. There’s many definitions of humanity, but I like this one from Merriam-Webster “the quality or state of being kind to other people or animals”. VOSHer’s volunteer their time and talents because we care and get so much by giving of ourselves.
Vision related injuries, including broken or lost glasses, are often the product of such disasters. The severity of Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath call us once again to respond in desperate times. If you want to help with the recovery effort or know people affected by Hurricane Harvey, there’s a few sources to which we can guide you:
Remote Area Medical (RAM) will be launching a mission to the affected area in the coming weeks. They are looking for medical and veterinary volunteers to help them in this cause. Go to http://ramusa.org/disaster-relief/ to find out more.
The Eye Center of Houston, Vision Source has partnered with VSP and EyeMed Vision and plans to offer FREE Eye Exams and Glasses for First Responders or ANY disaster victims who have lost or damaged their glasses. If you have VSP or EyeMed, schedule your FREE exam today 713-777-2020. If you don’t have VSP or EyeMed, contact your local American Red Cross (redcross.org), as they are giving out VSP vouchers.
I’m sure there’s other resources and options that I don’t personally know about, feel free to post them on VOSH’s Facebook page. One word of caution against scams that crop up after an event like this. You can search non-profits and check their validity by going to www.guidestar.org.
Are you looking for a good foundation upon which to build for your VOSH experiences? Salus University offers on-line courses that provide VOSH members the necessary knowledge to help build sustainable health systems around the world.
The certificate program is 15 semester hours, divided among six selected courses form the Master of Public Health program: three elective courses in the areas of humanitarian and refugee health, health and human rights, and global health and leadership.
There are three core courses in the areas of health policy, epidemiology, and program implementation and evaluation. Each course will provide students with an opportunity to apply new knowledge and skills to humanitarian problems.
VOSH/INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATES WITH SALUS UNIVERSITY IN OFFERING SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITIES FOR A MASTER OF PUBLIC HEALTH DEGREE PROGRAM FOR VOSH CORPS OPTOMETRISTS
VOSH/International is pleased to announce that it is collaborating with Salus University to offer VOSH Corps optometrists scholarship opportunities for earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree while on their international placement. making its first placement in the newly established VOSH Corps program. The MPH degree is designed for future international optometric leaders with advanced knowledge and skills in developing and implementing sustainable vision programs worldwide. The program includes courses and projects such as cost-effectiveness analysis, humanitarian and refugee health, program implementation and evaluation, human rights, global health and leadership, and health policy. The program is delivered online with real world application through a capstone project adaptable to the VOSH placement.
Dr. Justin Manning, the first VOSH Corp placement, is currently enrolled in the MPH while serving on the faculty of the optometry school at UNAN-Managua, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua. The school has 124 optometry students who will be prepared to serve the unmet needs of communities throughout the country.
The goal of VOSH Corps is to build optometric education worldwide. VOSH Corps is in collaboration with the Brien Holden Vision Institute and is supported by Optometry Giving Sight. Modeled after the Peace Corps program, graduates from North American optometry schools are recruited to serve in emerging optometric institutions around the world as faculty and program development assistants.
When asked about his reasons for applying to VOSH Corps and his future plans, Dr. Manning said, “During my first Student VOSH trip (to Nicaragua of all places), I thought to myself, if there was any way I could make a living doing this, I would do it in a heartbeat. That sentiment only grew following my second SVOSH trip to Bolivia. Since those two trips, the dream to move abroad developed and when the opportunity to return to Nicaragua presented itself, I knew it was where we were meant to be. Pursuing the Salus MPH has allowed me to apply my new public health skills and knowledge to my work in Nicaragua. The MPH has given me a public health framework and language to engage with the broader health community, sharing ideas, successes, and challenges that will lead to expanded strategies for long term sustainability. I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity through the MPH to engage in discussions with other health providers throughout the developed and developing world: sharing ideas, successes, and challenges from which we all can learn. It really has been an honor and privilege to be able to serve in such a meaningful capacity. I encourage others to continue this historical VOSH initiative.”
More information about VOSH Corps, including application information and the Salus MPH program, can be found at: http://vosh.org/vosh-corps/