Patient patients in Gondar’s Vision Clinic

By Jeff Walline, Associate Professor
Ohio State College of Optometry

In Ethiopia, optometry is a bachelor’s degree, but I am here to teach six motivated students obtaining Master’s degrees in optometry. One purpose of their education is to expose them to optometry procedures that are practiced in the United States that are typically not practiced by optometrists in other parts of the world. Therefore, I teach them things that they cannot practice due to economic, social, and/or technologic constraints. However, the students are very interested in learning. Hopefully, they will also be able to practice these procedures in Ethiopia and teach future optometrists to practice them as well.

Below is a picture of patients waiting to have their eyes examined in the Vision Clinic. They wait in the courtyard of a three story building that appears old and decrepit in some areas and never completely finished in other areas.

walline-patients

Patients waiting to have their eyes examined.

 

Ethiopian people are very patient, and waiting seems to be a natural part of their lives. They wait for eye examinations, they wait for cabs, they wait for something that never seems to appear. However, they never complain about waiting. It just seems to be a part of their lives.

What I teach optometry students in two semesters, I have squeezed into one week. I don’t know how much of it actually “sunk in,” but I know that the students will certainly have more information than when I arrived. They are anxious for a final, but I didn’t know that I was to give one. I will prepare a final when I return and send it to them, but first I will prepare them for the final on my last day here.

I want them to have a positive feeling about their experience, and I think a strong performance on the final would help to solidify that feeling.

I have one more day to lecture. On Monday, I thought this day would never arrive. Now that it has, I look forward to going home but not with as much fervor as before. The people of Ethiopia are very kind and I will miss them.

What I see when teaching optometry in Gondar

 

By Jeff Walline, Associate Professor
Ohio State College of Optometry

I am in Ethiopia to teach two courses at University of Gondar: advanced contact lenses; and children’s vision.

The students have a strong basis in pediatric care, and they ask very intelligent questions. They are very patient with me when I ask them to repeat their questions.

walline-students

My University of Gondar students

 

Traveling from the Gondar airport to my hotel, I went through an entire evolutionary cycle. Near the rural airport, several men tended their sheep and cattle grazing on the lush, green grass. No fences or borders exist, except those extended by men with canes and ever-watchful eyes. Soon, grass huts appeared, with little to adorn them or signify life nearby. I imagined that the same people tending the herds lived in these small, round huts, but I have no confirmation.

Shortly, the rural life began to intertwine with modern life, as the livestock grazed along the roads infrequently traversed by fueled automobiles. Although vehicles existed, it seemed as though most people of Gondar walk from place to place as they generally carried walking sticks to seemingly help them traverse the hills and sometimes rugged roadside.

As automobiles increased in frequency, so too did people. More people waited, as opposed to actively walked, alongside the road. They waited for one of the minivans or the three-wheeled motorized carts that would transport them to their location. Our bus continued to pass slower vehicles and be passed by faster ones on the hills, seemingly never concerned about the side of the road on which one drives.

woman-drying-grain

A woman preparing grain on the roadside.

 

I was dropped off at my hotel, located across the street from the Vision Care Training Center and Fistula Clinic, where I lecture to six Master’s students about pediatrics and specialty contact lenses. The electricity only went out for 5 minutes during the morning lecture, so we were able to use technology to project PowerPoint slides on the wall. However, the projector was very touchy.

So, I have witnessed everything from farmers to exceedingly bright, enthusiastic students, and every bit of the evolution connecting the two, and all of this within the small boundaries of Gondar, Ethiopia.

 

 

2014 One Health Summer Institute brochure posted online

 

By Christine O’Malley
Executive Director of Health Sciences

I’m happy to share that the brochure for the 2014 One Health Summer Institute is now online.

More info about the institute can be found here: http://u.osu.edu/onehealth/projects/education/summer-institute/

Or you can download the brochure by clicking on this photo:

brochure-cover

 

 

Watercolor inspirations in Gondar

By Karla Zadnik, OD, PhD
College of Optometry

Watercolor inspirations in Gondar!

Watercolor inspirations in Gondar!

Watercolored images of Four Sisters (restaurant) and the transportation van's dashboard chickens (by Karla Zadnik)

Watercolored images of Four Sisters (restaurant) and the transportation van’s dashboard chickens (by Karla Zadnik)

Dr. Karla Zadnik with the ethics course attendees at the University of Gondar

Dr. Karla Zadnik with the ethics course attendees at the University of Gondar

Ethics Engagement in Ethiopia

By Karla Zadnik, OD, PhD
College of Optometry

 

The Summer Institute’s research ethics course chugged along today. I started late, mostly because I didn’t realize most of my students were in the courtyard just outside the classroom in the bright morning sunshine, waiting for me to begin speaking. I lectured on the tenets of the Declaration of Helsinki (OSU faculty—you all remember those, right?) and the ethical use of animals in research (thanks Donna McCarthy!), but the highlight turned out to be the case study discussions.

I presented a case I’d heard at the 2008 Public Responsibility in Medicine & Research meeting. It weaves the tale of an imaginary city, Blovar, which is under siege such that its children are subsisting on an inadequate 400 calories. An entrepreneurial, mythical scientist who studies nutrition and brain function in children appears on the scene to conduct a purely observational study of the children. After carefully reading the case, the course attendees “went to town.” After their small group analysis of the case, I facilitated a discussion of the case. They didn’t need me. There were marked differences of opinion in the class. One attendee drew historical correlates, while another took the role of the Principal Investigator, cautioning the audience to assume that fellow scientists generally want to do a good job. The points made were lively, vehement even, yet collegial. All this before lunch!

The afternoon’s soundtrack was a thunderstorm of biblical proportions that hammered the roof of the classroom and lit up the sky. We all raised our voices in tune with the rain and created a chorus, celebrating the hard, thoughtful work of teaching and learning research-related ethics.

IMG_1193 (1)

Optometry Pride, Worldwide

By Karla Zadnik, OD, PhD
College of Optometry

Office of the Director of the Department of Optometry, Destaye Shiferaw

Office of the Director of the Department of Optometry, Destaye Shiferaw

Yesterday, Ohio State College of Optometry faculty members, Dr. Dean VanNasdale and Dr. Andrew Emch made their way to the Department of Optometry housed in the International Fistula Training Center at the University of Gondar. The Department’s mission statement reads, “The profession of optometry offers comprehensive eye care services to all mankind. The training program has the philosophy of producing skilled manpower equipped with adequate knowledge, skills and attitude to deliver such eye care services in the most ethical manner, both on the national and international level.” What institution wouldn’t aspire to that?

Optics lesson/ray tracing white board

Optics lesson/ray tracing white board

Hosted by Department Director, Destaya Shiferaw, and several of the faculty, Dr. Andrew and Dr. Dean were struck by many things that surprised them. Dr. Dean found that the optometry bond ran deep, declaring the faculty at UoG “more similar than different to us,” and he was struck by the faculty’s honesty and candor and that they truly held nothing back. Dr. Andrew declared the faculty, “Enthusiastic and proud, yet self-aware.” Unusual characteristics for faculty members, don’t you think?

UoG and OSU Optometry academicians

UoG and OSU optometry academicians

Destaya and colleagues are clearly altruistic, focused on the larger community and the optometric profession. They had a clear “vision” of the future of optometry in the country and all of Africa, and envision themselves as leaders in public health as it relates to eye care in east Africa. The two teams spent several hours in completely open, engaged communication. They return tomorrow to tour the clinical facilities and discuss strategies for advanced contact lens fitting instruction and practice in the UoG clinic. Stay tuned.