Category Archives: Careers in imaging

How Did You Get Into This Field?

One of the best ways to ensure high quality ophthalmic diagnostic images is to first establish a rapport with the patient. Once you’ve gained their trust you can easily guide them through the sometimes uncomfortable or stressful process of obtaining information that may determine their diagnosis and influence treatment decisions. Chatting them up a little usually helps to ease their nervousness.  This friendly interaction often leads to some interesting conversations.

Patients who undergo ophthalmic imaging for the first time are especially amazed by the whole experience. They are fascinated by the technology used and the incredible images we are able to obtain.

But they also want to know a little about the qualifications needed to perform these tests. They may ask questions like, “What is your job called?” Or, “How long have you been doing this?”  “Do you need to be a doctor to do this?” But the most common question I get is, “How did you get into this field?” I usually chuckle and then give them my stock answer, “I’m still trying to figure out how that happened!” I go on to explain it’s not something I set out to do as a profession.

Their next comment is usually, “You must have gone to school a long time, or have a special degree, in order to do this.” They are shocked when I tell them that most people in the field were trained on the job and that there aren’t any specific educational or licensure requirements.  It seems to put them at ease when I tell them that I hold multiple certifications in ophthalmic imaging. This speaks to the value of achieving and maintaining voluntary certification.

So how does one get started in this field?

There’s no one “right way” to become an ophthalmic imager. In the absence of formal training or degrees in our profession, most of us learn the majority of the required skills on the job. My background was in commercial photography and I gradually learned enough ophthalmology to apply my photographic skills to imaging the eye. There are many others in the field with a background in photography. Others started as medical assistants or technicians and then learned the photographic side of things on the job. The point is that very few of us set out to become an ophthalmic photographer and one day find ourselves working in the field and learning many of the requisite skills on the job.

One of the problems with OJT is that it is often limited to what is being done in that particular practice setting. To get started in the field or obtain more comprehensive training and  expand your skills you may want to take a look at some currently available resources such as text books, online tutorials here on eye-pix.com as well as educational resources through these sources:

www.opsweb.org

www.atpo.org

www.jcahpo.org

https://eyecarece.jcahpo.org//

So how did you get started in this field? I’m curious to see others’ journey. Feel free to post your story in the comments section below.