Medical Model

Be an Active Member of the Scientific Community

By Cheryl G. Murphy OD

Recently I branched out into the scientific community beyond just the eyes. I have been getting to know people in many different areas of expertise. The long forgotten subjects that once ignited my love for science in high school and college such as physics, neuroscience and physiology, I am once again reading up on. It has been a breath of fresh air, rediscovering them all over again through the latest news and studies taught by professionals in each field that are as passionate about their work as I am about vision.

Re-Learning Science
It is amazing how much I am learning and how my curiosity and love for science is once again thriving. Don’t get me wrong, I love learning about the eyes and vision. I have kept up with the latest in our field through continuing education courses, my county chapter of the American Optometric Association, publications and various events like Vision Expo. I also meet regularly with a couple of my colleagues over dinner, and the tide of conversation naturally turns to optometry and impromptu case discussions. However, I have found that over the last decade, I have been so focused on the eyes that I have forgotten how much fun it can be to see the big picture, the subject of science as a whole.

Ways to Rediscover Science:
-Scientific magazines and publications covering numerous fields and topics
-Reliable web sites which cherry-pick the latest in science news
-Professional blogs of doctors, scientists and researchers
-Scientific community tweet-ups and local science clubs for professionals
-Social media of science professionals, researchers and authors

Sharing Your Knowledge of Vision
Talking to patients about the health of their eyes and the science behind their sight has always excited me, as I am sure it does many of you. Perhaps equally as exhilarating is teaching vision science to a fellow science professional whose area of expertise is anything but vision. Besides discussing science with others, I have begun writing about it. I find this especially rewarding since it also helps me to organize information clearly and allows me to hunt through medical publications for the most-up-to-date research findings on a topic. I feel like an information scavenger.

Sharing your knowledge with others can not only give you a sense of pride, it can help establish yourself as a trusted professional in your field and put your name in the minds of other science and medical professionals as their “go-to” person when they have a question related to vision science. No one expects you to have all of the answers. I think it is impossible for anyone to know absolutely every thing about each sub-topic in their field. So don’t be hard on yourself if you have to go back and review material; that is actually one of the rewarding perks for you. Just do the best you can to explain things, keep up to date and review topics as needed before you present them.

Ways to Share Vision:
-Start a professional blog
-Use social media, tweet interesting new discoveries, post fun vision facts
-Offer Q&As regarding vision on your practiceweb site
-Network with science professionals in person and online
-Volunteer your time for local vision screenings or charities

By sharpening your knowledge in other areas of science and sharing your passion for vision science with others, you just might find that like me, over the years you lost a little piece of why you got into optometry in the first place; your love and natural curiosity in science as a whole. I encourage you to rediscover it. It’s fun, rewarding and easier to do than you think!

Do you participate in the larger scientific community? How do you share your knowledge of vision with other scientists, and what do you learn from the larger scientific world about the science of optometry?

Cheryl G. Murphy, OD, practices at an independent optometric practice in Holbrook, NY. You can contact her: or follow her on twitter @murphyod.

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