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School of Optometry Student in Nicaragua

School of Optometry Students Provide Eye Care in Nicaragua

  • At Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS), faculty, staff, and students come together to give back in meaningful ways, both in our own backyards and on the international stage.

    In January, students from the School of Optometry traveled from Worcester, MA to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua to provide ophthalmology services to under-served populations.

    The group of twelve students, which was accompanied Kathleen O'Leary, Assistant Professor in the School of Optometry, collaborated with 82 other members of the international organization Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH) to provide eye care to community members.

    VOSH, which has a student chapter on the Worcester campus, has hosted the annual trip to Nicaragua for 19 years. It was the second year that MCPHS students have participated in the program.

    The program was sponsored by the Center for International Studies at MCPHS, which offers a variety of service-learning programs, international clinical rotations and clerkships, exchange programs, and travel courses each year.

    "The Center for International Studies is thrilled to offer a service program specific to optometry," said Kathleen Head, Director for the Center for International Studies. "The students who participate have the unique opportunity to contribute to and experience their field in a global setting.”

    As part of the program, students spent four days providing eye care in a clinic at a local school. Over the course of four days, over 4,488 patients were seen - a record number for the organization. Among the services provided were vision screenings. All patients in need of glasses were given a pair, and every patient at the clinic was given a free pair of sunglasses.

    Hyder Almosawy, Doctor of Optometry '19, serves as a Student VOSH (SVOSH) officer and traveled to Nicaragua as part of the group. “It was honestly such a humbling experience to be there and provide care for so many wonderful people," said Hyder.

    For the second year optometry student, the trip represented an important opportunity to reflect on the importance of collaboration and multi-cultural experiences. "Not only is it relevant to what I will be practicing in the future as an optometrist, but it taught me a lot about patience, appreciating other cultures, and working towards an end goal," said Hydar. “All things considered, this trip has changed me as a future optometrist and as a person.”

    The Center for International Studies at MCPHS supports international collaboration through a variety of service-learning programs, international clinical rotations and clerkships, exchange programs, and travel courses.