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Full Name: Sloan Sunil Rajadhyksha

Name of Practice: Center for Advanced Vision Care at ODA Primary Health Care Network

Setting: Community Health Clinic

Location: Williamsburg, NY

Date of Birth: 05/08/1991

High School Attended: Torrey Pines High School. San Diego, CA

College Attended: UC Irvine. Irvine, CA

Optometry School Attended: UC Berkeley School of Optometry. Berkeley, CA

Tell us something interesting about yourself: (Ie. Travel, hobbies, quirky tidbit people don’t know)

  • I love to explore different cuisines, eating is a passion of mine. 
  • I was fortunate enough to grow up speaking multiple languages which has made learning a new language less difficult (still never easy). I often find myself interacting with people from different cultures so I really value this skill. I grew up speaking Hindi, Marathi and English and can now speak Spanish and conversational Yiddish. If I had a superpower it would definitely be to be able to communicate with anyone in the world in their native tongue. 
  • I was born in India and moved to the United States at the age of 9. Being from a foreign background drives my curiosity about different cultures.
  • I love listening to live music. I regret quitting guitar in the 6th grade, but I hear it’s never too late to start again!

Tell us about your family: 

My family is quirky, loud and awesome. I have two older sisters and I’d like to say that my personality is a combination of the two. My middle sister, Shibani, is a talented dentist and I am very grateful for that. It was definitely not the track I wanted to pursue, but having a dentist in the family is pretty useful. My oldest sister, Karishma, works in Human Resources at a law firm. She has the biggest heart and is excellent at communicating with people so this job is perfect for her. Karishma also has the cutest daughter, my one-year old niece, who I love to pieces. I grew up with a strong influence from my parents, Brinda and Sunil, who drive me to be a better person every day. My parents have given me and my sisters unconditional love and support and continue to be our biggest fans. I am very grateful for every person in my family and even though we drive each other crazy sometimes, I wouldn’t trade a single one of them for anything in the world.

Tell us about your parent’s occupations: 

My dad has a strong background in business & finance. He’s the chairman of a private equity firm, a lifelong learner and the most impressive man I know.  My mom is a rock star, full-time mom. If I have half the maternal instincts, when I have my own kids, as she does I’ll consider myself lucky. 

Why did you choose optometry as a career?

Choosing optometry was a calculated decision for me. As I mentioned, my parents have been a big influence in my life. When I was in my second year of undergrad, I had a conversation with my dad about what I wanted to do. This conversation was a rite of passage, if you will, and each of my sisters had had one just like it. My dad suggested that I come up with a list of values. The list had to highlight what I wanted out of my professional life, what I wanted to offer a profession and what was important to me on a daily basis. My list looked something like this:

1. Have fun (life is short)

2. Interact with people i.e no desk jobs

3. Make a difference in someone’s life

4. Flexible hours (this job will be what I do, not who I am)

5. Educate/learn

6. Opportunity for growth

I had a background in biological sciences and enjoyed learning about the human body. A class in vision perception directed me towards optometry. Having been a contact lens wearer, I was aware of optometry as a profession but I had no idea about the myriad of avenues within it. As I researched this career further, I learned about ortho-k, myopia control, vision rehabilitation, ocular disease, low vision etc. I realized that optometry, specifically vision therapy, could check off all the boxes on my values list. When I started shadowing it came to my attention that I was excited about going to work. I enjoyed witnessing the patient/doctor interactions within a community.  People didn’t seem to dread coming to the eye doctor, but rather they were eager to see and function better. After working at a VT/sports vision oriented practice during my year off, I was confident that this career was for me.

What aspects of your professional life do you find most rewarding?

My clinical setting is concentrated with patients who need vision therapy and rehabilitation. Working with these patients on a weekly basis and watching them make progress is extremely rewarding. I work with a lot of kids and I find that through vision therapy a child learns how to set goals, work towards them and build self-esteem. It is incredible to see a child in the beginning of therapy and then at the end. Sure, their visual symptoms resolve, but more importantly they become confident in who they are because now their visual system is allowing them to know where they are in space.

What aspects of your professional life do you find least rewarding?

I find it frustrating that there are many people in the general population who still don’t understand what an optometrist can do. Frankly, I think we are partly to blame for it. There are many offices where optometrists do not, and cannot, provide comprehensive exams due to lack of equipment or poor facilities. Patients who use these facilities as the sole means of their eye care are under the false impression that they are receiving comprehensive exams. Others, adopt the perception that the optometrist provides glasses and for all medical needs they need to go to the ophthalmologist. When I was moonlighting in residency, I came across a few such offices. I decided that the only way I could make a change in public perception was by one, educating patients, and two, deciding that I would not participate in fragmented patient management. Fill-in positions often target young doctors by offering favorable compensation. For those locations that do not provide standard of care, we need to take a stand for our license and our patients. It is only by doing this that we can finally be recognized for the labor of our optometric training.

How did you end up working where you are now?

Doing a residency after optometry school was one of the best decisions I made for my career. My knowledge base grew exponentially over the course of 1 year and it led me to my current job. I am an eternal optimist so I had hoped that once I figured out where I wanted to live I could find a job that best suited for my abilities. I chose to live in New York. Yes, I had heard from many people that NYC is “saturated” but, I like to believe that there is always room for a good doctor. In good fortune, one of my residency mentors connected me with a former colleague who was a part of a unique multi-disciplinary practice at a community health clinic. The clinic was home to speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and of course vision therapy. I had initially anticipated that I would go into private practice after residency, but this opportunity was very unique and the multidisciplinary setting was unlike anything I had previously encountered; I had to take it. I am happy to say, I made the right decision and I love my job! I can’t say what the future holds, but I plan to incorporate this integrated rehabilitation approach in treating all my patients.

What professional conferences do you like best?

I am definitely a conference enthusiast! During optometry school, I seized every opportunity to attend conferences. I found that the enthusiasm of optometrists and students at these conferences rejuvenated my perspective on optometry and helped me see the big picture (beyond the classroom and boards). Some of these conferences include: AAO, AOA, COVD, and Vision Expo East and West. I find that each of these conferences has something unique to offer. The Expos will bring together the best of the best trend setters for the upcoming season. The Academy will highlight the latest advances in eye care: clinical and pharmaceutical. The AOA will emphasize the importance of being an advocate for our profession, and COVD…well that’s more for my personal interest in treating vision from a functional perspective. I continue to attend these conferences as a young OD. It is a great way to keep learning and reconnect with all my colleagues and friends. 

Have you ever used a practice management consultant?

I have not, but I am familiar with a few groups that I plan on keeping on my radar for the future.

What advice do you have for young people considering optometry as a career?

Optometry is a profession that will reward you in unexpected ways. You will form lifelong relationships with patients and colleagues that will enrich your life. You will construct your own model of vision which will quite literally open up your eyes to how people interact with and adapt to their visual environment. 

It is important to note, that there comes a great responsibility with being the person who a patient and their family trusts with their visual needs. As you progress in your career, you may be tempted to take the easy route and cut corners, but I would strongly urge you against it. As a doctor, you may only have one chance to impact a patient’s life. Treat beyond the “standard of care” and take a stand against anyone or any place who offers anything less. Don’t fear advances in technology, but rather embrace them and incorporate them to provide better patient care. Learn from various people, challenge practices and adopt a holistic approach to patient management. 

Sloan Rajadhyksha
Associate Editor for odsonfb.com. Sloan Rajadhyksha is a California native and Berkeley graduate currently completing her residency in Vision Therapy and Rehabilitation at SUNY. She has been an active leader in the optometric student community; her current roles include being Founder of Optometry Student Network and President of SOLutioN. Sloan's passion within optometry lies with private practice and helping students build connections across the country.

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