Tracy L. Matchinski, OD, FAAO, FVI
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Data Collection-are you up to the challenge?
From our website “As one of the largest organizations that provides direct delivery service of eye care in the developing world, VOSH Chapters have the potential to make a significant contribution to alleviating the global burden of blindness and visual impairment by simply recording our data.” Annually VOSH clinics serve thousands of people all over the world. Thousands receive glasses, medication, referrals and education about their eyes. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was data to further validate the important work that VOSH Chapters are doing? The data can be used by organizations such as IAPB, WCO, BHVI and others to gain information on global eyecare needs. VOSH Chapters can also use it to better prepare for clinic trips if common refractive errors and ocular conditions in a region are better understood.
Data collection is an immense effort for VOSH teams. If it is done during the clinic trip, it may be difficult as the team has already put in a long clinic day. If the data collection is left until after a team returns home, sometimes the data is put on the back burner and may stay there. Advice from VOSH Chapters that have successfully contributed data is to collect data during the clinic trip. One of the best ways to do this is to add a station to your clinic. Make it part of the clinic and assign VOSH team members to review exams forms and enter the data live during the clinic.
Data collection can be thought of in two levels-basic and comprehensive. If you have not yet collected data, the basic level may be a good place to start moving to the comprehensive level on your next VOSH clinic trip. The basic level collects information on number of patients seen, gender, age groups, glasses dispenses, referrals made. On our website, this data can be uploaded daily or at the end of your clinic trip. The comprehensive level uses a VOSH developed universal exam form labeled “SOS Intake & Exam Form”. These forms are completed on every patients and scanned in. A software program is able to analyze the data and provide results on all parts of the examination and inclusive of all the basic level data. Forms for both the basic and advanced data collection are found on our website at: https://vosh.org/clinic-data/. There is a PowerPoint to assist understanding how to use the universal form and if you have any question please ask at email@example.com.
Data collection is not easy, but it is important. The good news is that VOSHers are hard workers and very capable to take this extra important step that will help contribute to solutions in the field of global eyecare. VOSH Chapters are up to the challenge of data collection!
Tracy Matchinski, OD, FAAO, FVI
Development of Optometry Worldwide
Living in a country where there is access to care, it is sometimes hard to remember that everyone does not have this advantage. An eye exam to correct refractive error and detect sight-threatening conditions seems easy to access, but it is not always possible. Around the world, so many do not have this advantage due to lack of eyecare providers or inability to access this care. Optometrist are well suited to help fill this vast need. The World Council of Optometry (WCO) created a document called “Why Optometry?” in response to the World Health Organization’s Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Avoidable Blindness and Visual Impairment 2014-2019. This document can be found at https://worldcouncilofoptometry.info/why-optometry/. The WCO states: “Optometry answers these challenges by providing a range of diagnostic, technical and direct patient care and support services required by patients and other health care professions. It has increasingly focused on universal health coverage; providing accessible, equitable and affordable eye health services to all and shifting from a predominantly private sector orientation to a public sector one as well. Optometry functions in a primary care capacity in many developed countries and in developing countries at a secondary level as part of a multidisciplinary team including doctors and ophthalmologists.”
In addition, as optometrists, it would be hard if we were unable to practice using all our skills and knowledge that we acquired in our training to help our patients. There are many organizations working hard to increase the level of optometry training worldwide. These organizations are also working with local government to recognize the profession of optometry and enabling optometrist to provide care within the local healthcare systems.
How can you help? Become a member and support organizations that are developing optometry schools and advocating for optometry as a profession around the world. Here are some of these organizations:
World Council of Optometry: https://worldcouncilofoptometry.info/
Brien Holden Vision Institute: https://www.brienholdenvision.org/
The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness: https://www.iapb.org/
Optometry Giving Sight: http://www.givingsight.org/
Tracy Matchinski, OD, FAAO, FVI
Working with SVOSH Chapters
Student VOSH chapters are present at almost every optometry school. They are engaged and energic, looking for ways to provide VOSH services, just like VOSH Chapters. It is ideal for VOSH Chapters to develop a relationship with their local SVOSH chapter.
Some ways to connect:
- If you live in a state where there is an optometry school, connect with the SVOSH chapter
- Ways to connect: invite SVOSH members to local meetings, clinics and activities
- Here is list of SVOSH chapter leadership: https://vosh.org/chapters/student-chapters/
- Look to connect to a nearby optometry school, even if not in the same state
- Connect with the SVOSH faculty advisor at your nearby optometry school
- Sponsor events with local SVOSH club
- Pizza party with a presentation of your VOSH Chapter activities, clinic trips
- Donate to the SVOSH chapter to support their activities
- Work with local SVOSH chapter on World Sight Day (WSD) activities. WSD is an annual event to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment. WSD is held on the second Thursday of October and this year it will be on October 11th.
- Make it easier for students to participate
- Find out from the SVOSH chapter when their school breaks are, it is easier for students to participate in trips during academic breaks. Take a look at the SVOSH calendar of breaks: https://vosh.org/chapters/student-vosh-calendar-of-breaks/
- Avoid the month of March (and a few months leading up to March) due to National Boards part 1.
- Many SVOSH students that participate go during their 3rd year and during their 3rd year is when they are preparing for and taking National Boards part 1.
- Attend VOSH midyear or annual meetings to meet up with students
- Connect with VOSH/International Board of Directors SVOSH liaison Dr. Michael Ciszek, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you have ideas of how to involve an SVOSH chapter, let us know atciszek@VOSH.org
If you have never had optometry students on your trip, please consider it. SVOSHers add incredible value, enthusiasm and excitement to VOSH clinic trips. They are also the future of VOSH.
Tracy Matchinski, OD, FAAO, FVI