hoosier1

Member
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Nov 12, 2004
177
0
Status
I was wondering if any of you heard of optometry students going on missions trips to help ppl living in 3rd countries with eye diseases. Does SCCO or Berkeley have this program? Have any of you gone on these trips and would like to share your experience??? :) Thanks!
 

Coney Eyeland

Junior Member
10+ Year Member
Feb 19, 2005
8
0
Status
hoosier1 said:
I was wondering if any of you heard of optometry students going on missions trips to help ppl living in 3rd countries with eye diseases. Does SCCO or Berkeley have this program? Have any of you gone on these trips and would like to share their experience??? :) Thanks!


There is an organization called VOSH (www.vosh.org) that provides volunteer services to underprivileged regions. I believe that every school in the U.S. and Canada is involved. From what I've read, it sounds like a really great organization! I too would be interested in hearing about students' experiences with this or other groups.
 

Rosanna

Not rejected by the CIA
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Jan 12, 2003
236
1
Berkeley, CA
Status
Optometrist
Berkeley also participates in the VOSH program. This school year, we've had groups gone to Nicaragua and Thailand (a week or so after the tsunami attack). My classmate is putting together a VOSH India at this moment to try to do next year. We were also trying to do a VOSH Vietnam this year, but it was cancelled last minute because the doctor backed out. They will be trying to do it next year.

I did not participate this year because I actually went on vacation for the first time in years, but I'm thinking about participating in VOSH Thailand next year. Several of my friends participated in both VOSH trips, so e-mail me if you want me to put you in contact with them. Also, I have a classmate who did a missionary in Taiwan last year and a friend at SCCO who did one in Guatemala building homes, so I can connect you with them if you think that may interest you also.

- Rosanna

PS: This was from a few years ago: http://spectacle.berkeley.edu/news_info/news_student_stories/news_oh.html
 

heretic

Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Dec 4, 2004
49
0
Status
Optometrist
SCCO also particpates. They sent a group of students to El Salvador this past week because it was our Spring Break.
 

J.opt

7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Oct 24, 2002
559
0
Visit site
Status
How does VOSH work? I heard somewhere that you had to accumulate points or something like that.
Do you raise money and then go, or do you have to pay for your expenses with your own money?
 

texnnawlins

Junior Member
10+ Year Member
Feb 19, 2005
9
0
Status
I'll be attending optometry school in the fall and mission trips is a big thing to me. I'm a Spanish minor so I desperately want the opportunity to merge optometry with my language studies. I will be attending either SCCO or U of H and both schools have already described their trips to me. If anyone has additional info, please send it my way
 

file014

Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Feb 17, 2005
81
0
Status
IU's VOSH goes to Guanajuato, Mexico anually. We go next week actually. We generally take 5 first years, 10 second years, and 15 third years. Then theres about 10 docs and fourth years that go. We set up a temporary "assembly line" clinic at the convention center and see about 2800 patients in 4.5 days of work. We have to do fundraisers and other activities to earn points to go on the trip. We end up paying $350-450 out of pocket. Most everyone who wants to go gets to. IU also has a clinic in Guanajuato, so 12 intern per year get to do a 3 month rotation there. I go this summer, yay! I should be pretty good at spanish by the time I get back.

http://www.opt.indiana.edu/clinics/centers/mexico/mex_indx.htm

IU also has a strong FCO chapter (the original chapter?) that organizes trips to Honduras. They tend to go during the summer or after Christmas. They usually request money from their church groups. I think its usually about $1200 minus whatever money you can fundraise.
 

Rosanna

Not rejected by the CIA
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Jan 12, 2003
236
1
Berkeley, CA
Status
Optometrist
Here are some comments from my friend Marisa who participated in VOSH Nicaragua this past winter break and VOSH Thailand last year as a first year.

------------------

VOSH is an awesome experience. We got to work with great doctors, opticians and technicians, meet students from other schools, make friends from other countries, explore a different culture, and improve people's lives. Your clinical skills also become so much better from the experience. As a current second year, you're not exposed to regular patients much, and in school, you work with your classmates who know what you're doing with your exam procedures.

Out in VOSH, you have to not only be able to do an exam as accurate as possible--because your patient depends on it--but you also have to know to communicate with them in some way despite not being able to speak the same language sometimes (for Vosh Thailand, I didn't know how to speak Thai but sign language/facial expressions go a long way :p and my old high school Spanish skills got so much better after Vosh Nicaragua). What’s great also is that you have colleagues and other doctors right next to you if you have questions. It really puts one's life in perspective when you experience what a third-world country is like. I've learned so much from my patients and from my classmates/doctors whom I went on VOSH trips with.

How to become involved in VOSH and how VOSH trips are planned varies from school to school. Since UCBSO doesn't support VOSH at all (grrr...my pet peeve about this school), the Vosh trips are organized by the students themselves and we have a point system (based on volunteer hours and what year in school you are in) on who gets to go on VOSH. If you're really interested in going though, you can even go in your first year if you work at it. We fund our own trips, but some schools support VOSH and fund them too.

In planning we link up either with a VOSH organization or with doctors from that country. Each trip is different (days, hours work, etc.) based on who organizes it. I have a detailed list of recommended equipments to buy for vosh but it vary from school to school and trip to trip too (and generally you need that equipment anyway for school so it's not a huge extra equipment expense).

It’s a wonderful fulfilling experience, so if you get a chance to go, definitely do it. Hope that answered some questions!
 

beaneek

IU 2009
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Dec 28, 2004
38
0
Status
Optometrist
file014 said:
IU's VOSH goes to Guanajuato, Mexico anually. We go next week actually. We generally take 5 first years, 10 second years, and 15 third years. Then theres about 10 docs and fourth years that go. We set up a temporary "assembly line" clinic at the convention center and see about 2800 patients in 4.5 days of work. We have to do fundraisers and other activities to earn points to go on the trip. We end up paying $350-450 out of pocket. Most everyone who wants to go gets to. IU also has a clinic in Guanajuato, so 12 intern per year get to do a 3 month rotation there. I go this summer, yay! I should be pretty good at spanish by the time I get back.

http://www.opt.indiana.edu/clinics/centers/mexico/mex_indx.htm

IU also has a strong FCO chapter (the original chapter?) that organizes trips to Honduras. They tend to go during the summer or after Christmas. They usually request money from their church groups. I think its usually about $1200 minus whatever money you can fundraise.
Do students need to know Spanish to participate?
 

HawkOpt

New Member
10+ Year Member
Jan 20, 2005
4
0
Status
I went on a mission trip down to Nicaragua last summer. I am still an undergrad but I was very interested in going on a mission trip. I found the VOSH web site and contacted one of the coordinators down in Florida. I went down there with a group of people, most of whom did not speak any spanish at all. I was one of the few that knew the language and I basically stuck with the optometrist the whole time and translated for her. It was a great experience and I would highly recommend it. Oh, and I did have to play for my plane flight, about $500.
 

ddown

Junior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Mar 13, 2005
50
0
Status
Optometrist
Pacific University College of Optometry is involved with VOSH and has an organization called Amigos on campus as well. Although I have yet to go on one of the trips several of my classmates have gone to the Galapagos and various Central American nations. There is a group leaving for Ghana in a few days.
 

file014

Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Feb 17, 2005
81
0
Status
beaneek said:
Do students need to know Spanish to participate?
No, but it doesnt hurt to know some. You should not be discouraged at all if you do not speak any spanish. You learn a few simple phrases like "follow me", "sit here", and "look at the X and not at my light". And we have tons of translators available. I just got back from Guanajuato. It was a blast, and I cant wait to go back for my 3 month rotation this summer.
 

dulcinea

Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jul 1, 2004
69
0
Status
hi! I'm not in optometry school but my husband is so I have to comment. We both want to do long-term missions so we've had some exposure to this. He went with VOSH to Nicaragua and had a great time! He thought the pace of the day was excellent and he really got to do a lot-and this was during undergrad. He did all of the VA's before the patients saw the doctors-he knew enough spanish to not have a translator but in all the countries, translators are provided. You do have to pay your own way. He also went to Ecuador with Lenscrafters. This trip was jam-packed and he saw many many patients and worked as an optometrist, just like the other two there, even though he had just finished his 2nd year. He learned ALOT but had a horrible time and wouldn't go back, even if it was free, like it was the first time. He felt the bureaucracy was sickening. Many of the rich people got seen because they were more "important" and Lenscrafters seemed to have these types of connections down there. I don't know if it's like tha ton every trip. He felt that he really didn't get to reach all of the poor people. Plus he said the day was so exhausting, and disorganized, that 90% of the team got sick!!! Partly becasue the people preparing the water weren't doing it properly. I just say this because they are just doing it to get their name out and say 'look what we do'. He loved VOSH and felt that they were superior by far!!!!!!! HE's also going to Jamaica with a local church to work as an optometrist and will be one of two. Try checking around with local churches. Also, Medical Missions International needs optometrists or technicians for some eye projects. I love this organization and have spent a couple of months with them. Their website is www.mmint.org. It's extremely well organized and is Christian based which was important to me. But they encourage all faiths to participate and are very open-so it's worth it!!!
Good luck!
 

xmattODx

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Nov 5, 2003
574
1
Visit site
Status
I just wanted to add a little something to the discussion. I've been on four trips where eye exams were conducted and used spectacles were dispensed. I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. I've thought a lot about this style of care. I've researched it and I've discovered that the World Health Organization notes that this kind of care is admirable but that it does a diservice to the countries in which it is conducted. It stifles the growth of "optometry" in those countries and provides spectacles which are not used because of poor prescriptions (the patients get the closest thing available), poor cosmetics and poor fit.

We need to ask: would we be happy with used eye glasses? Would we be happy receiving a 3 month supply of glaucoma meds and no follow up? As optometrists interested in global health we must work within existing governmental structures to increase optometry style care in the countries we visit and to provide sustainable long term care in the communities we strive to help. I firmly believe that mass screenings and used eye glasses provided by foreigners do not lead to a measurable benefit for the vast majority of patients screened.
 

file014

Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Feb 17, 2005
81
0
Status
xmattODx said:
I just wanted to add a little something to the discussion. I've been on four trips where eye exams were conducted and used spectacles were dispensed. I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. I've thought a lot about this style of care. I've researched it and I've discovered that the World Health Organization notes that this kind of care is admirable but that it does a diservice to the countries in which it is conducted. It stifles the growth of "optometry" in those countries and provides spectacles which are not used because of poor prescriptions (the patients get the closest thing available), poor cosmetics and poor fit.

We need to ask: would we be happy with used eye glasses? Would we be happy receiving a 3 month supply of glaucoma meds and no follow up? As optometrists interested in global health we must work within existing governmental structures to increase optometry style care in the countries we visit and to provide sustainable long term care in the communities we strive to help. I firmly believe that mass screenings and used eye glasses provided by foreigners do not lead to a measurable benefit for the vast majority of patients screened.
You make some good points, but I see it a different way. IU has a clinic in Guanajuato, so we actually do follow up care. Not on a grand scale like seeing 2407 patients in 5 days, but there is some follow up. Also you have to remember that many people are healthy and could just use a pair of reading glasses. To me, it is worth it if ONE person can learn to read just because one of our first years handed them a pair of +2.25 readers and twisted them to fit.
We probably only see about 10% kids, but to see the look on a kids face when you put a -2.00 in front of their eyes and their face lights up. Its worth it to me if one more kid can see the chalkboard.
Last year I saw a 15 year old girl who had about 5 diopters of astigmatism (20/200 or worse). We gave her the closest glasses we had (3 diopters cyl about 15 degrees off axis) and she could see about 20/70. Yeah its not perfect, but she was happy.
We had one lady this year that brought her child through the VOSH clinic. She recognized us when we were shopping at the Mercado later that day. She was so impressed by us that she gave 7 of us gifts on the spot and was thanking us incessantly! That was very rewarding.
We have local nursing students running the Autorefractors and taking VA's. They get to go through the line towards the end of the clinic. Many of them were simple myopes and will continue to prosper in school because of someone's recycled glasses.
 

Richard_Hom

Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
May 29, 2003
518
0
San Mateo, CA
Visit site
Status
xmattODx said:
"... I've researched it and I've discovered that the World Health Organization notes that this kind of care is admirable but that it does a diservice to the countries in which it is conducted. It stifles the growth of "optometry" in those countries and provides spectacles which are not used because of poor prescriptions (the patients get the closest thing available), poor cosmetics and poor fit..."
Dear xmattODx,
Have you been in Mexico or Latin America in your professional capacity?

Although, I might agree with you on some of your thoughts, I believe that the optometric profession in Mexico can be compared to optometry in the 1940's. I had the pleasure of working at a public Mexican hospital for several weeks at the hospital, it's outlying clinics and even observed a local optometrist.

The beneficiaries of these glasses could never "afford" eye care of any kind and probably would never have gone to a local optometrist. At this time, I also work at a public hospital in the CA and am familiar with "public health optometry". The dynamics of working with the medically indigent are far different from private practice optometry.

Richard
 

Dr.Q

New Member
10+ Year Member
Mar 9, 2005
5
0
Status
HEy i have a question..is it possible to participate in a vosh program before ever actually attending optometry school? i would be interested in that. Please advise.
thanks.





, it's outlying clinics and even observed a local optometrist.

The beneficiaries of these glasses could never "afford" eye care of any kind and probably would never have gone to a local optometrist. At this time, I also work at a public hospital in the CA and am familiar with "public health optometry". The dynamics of working with the medically indigent are far different from private practice optometry.

Richard[/QUOTE]
 

xmattODx

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Nov 5, 2003
574
1
Visit site
Status
Richard_Hom said:
Dear xmattODx,
Have you been in Mexico or Latin America in your professional capacity?

Although, I might agree with you on some of your thoughts, I believe that the optometric profession in Mexico can be compared to optometry in the 1940's. I had the pleasure of working at a public Mexican hospital for several weeks at the hospital, it's outlying clinics and even observed a local optometrist.

The beneficiaries of these glasses could never "afford" eye care of any kind and probably would never have gone to a local optometrist. At this time, I also work at a public hospital in the CA and am familiar with "public health optometry". The dynamics of working with the medically indigent are far different from private practice optometry.

Richard
Yes I have been to Central America and I have done eye care there. I think the crux of my point is that we, while doing missions, provide what WE think is the care these people need. There has been, to my knowledge, no scientific look at what is actually done with the spectacles upon our departure, or what type of eye care the people of the developing world want. Will someone who needs a +2.25 presbyopic prescription use them to learn to read? I hightly doubt it. Will they use them to clean the rice they are cooking - more likely - but is it a necessary correction in an agrarian society? The question comes down to what type of refractive care, as that is really all that is offered on these trips, is required in developing countries? What is the best use of our resources?

WHO doesn't think that this is appropriate care, they summize that it stifles the development of refractive and medical eye care - providing no incentive for individuals to seek within country care. Would it not be a better use of western ODs time to go to these countries as teachers to bring eye care up to the year 2005 there? Foreign aid alone does not create sustainable programs there must be community buy in and participation.

The public health world has a saying: "Free drugs are no drugs". Could it not also be possible that free glasses are no glasses? If we are going to go to these societies to do mass screenings I implore that we stop using used eye glasses and we start ensuring that we are working along side governmental/within country organizations to train existing medical practitioners to refract and refer.
 

xmattODx

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Nov 5, 2003
574
1
Visit site
Status
Dr.Q said:
HEy i have a question..is it possible to participate in a vosh program before ever actually attending optometry school? i would be interested in that. Please advise.
thanks.
Most likely. Contact your nearest Lions club to see if they are going somewhere and want some help or for contact info to a Lions club that is going on a trip.

Also try www.vosh.org and find your nearest chapter, contact them and offer your services.
 

tammmy

New Member
10+ Year Member
Jan 28, 2005
2
0
Texas A&M
Status
ISL, International Service Learning, is a non-missionary based program where you can go to Central America/Africa/Mexico and do clinical field work. It used to be just Medical, Dental, and Veterinary work, but this year they just started an Optometry unit. From what I hear, you go to isolated villages with the group and run little clinics. The program is 2-3 weeks long, and they have trips all year long (mostly during spring break, summer, winter break). Also, if you talk to your advisor, you can find a way to get academic credit for the program (this is for undergrads). The trip costs approximately $2,000 (financial aid and sponsorship is applicable).

Be aware that the program is rugged and labor-intensive, but that shouldn't stop you as long as you're passionate enough about helping out the needy. (I wouldn't do it strictly in hopes of having a more stellar resume, because you won't enjoy the hard work). If you do end up going, keep in mind that although ISL has been around, this is their first time starting up an optometry unit (..so it won't be perfect!). I don't know much else about the program, but I should be going in May, so I'll let you know then whether or not I endorse it.

Here is the link for more information:
http://www.islonline.org/cisl/optflyer.html