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Marian University pre-med students now working at IEC are (l-r) Luke Elsener, Baylen Shoemaker, Annie Getzin and Madelyn Lindsay.

Four pre-med students from Marian University have begun working at Indiana Eye Clinic to fill a gap for ophthalmic assistants and technicians. This innovative solution came about with the help of our Ambulatory Surgical Center Director, Nathan Gehlhausen, who went to Marian and reached out to his alma mater when the challenge presented itself.

While attending the recent American Academy of Ophthalmology national conference, the IEC leadership team was presented with the problem of all of the Indiana schools for ophthalmic assistants and technicians closing their doors. These had helped produce a fresh stream of young, talented people to fill these positions, who perform may technical tasks that allow our veteran eye surgeons to focus on conducting procedures and delivering the best vision care possible.

Other solutions have been floating around the industry, including creating training programs to transition healthcare workers from other fields into these roles. But the IEC had a better idea: hire aspiring medical students during their first or second year of college. These are some of the brightest, most dedicated students out there, and they often are expected to work for free in healthcare just to have something to put on their medical school application.

This way, students can get hands-on experience while earning money to help pay for their expensive education to become physicians. We’re hoping some of them will eventually choose a specialty in ophthalmology are the great experience they have at IEC. In return, the clinic obtains critical support staff to assist us in our mission.

After meeting with the Marian Director of Career Development and the Sponsor for the Pre-Med program, Indiana Eye Clinic presented its opportunity to students, and were rewarded with a quick and positive response. Four of them — Luke Elsener, Baylen Shoemaker, Annie Getzin and Madelyn Lindsay — were interviewed and offered positions. They were thrilled about the chance to have a part-time job while pursuing their education. The Sponsor for the Pre-Med program also allowed them to receive credits towards graduating from this opportunity.

All four of our pre-med students/assistants are progressing quickly and are on track to become Certified Ophthalmic Assistants (CAO). Sometimes thinking out of the box can deliver a win-win for everybody!