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Visionary Vision: The Next Generation

As an independent small business in a bustling neighborhood, Visionary understands the importance of being kind to your neighbors. More than that, we like to know our neighbors (whether or not they’re patients and customers) and to find out how we can help them in order to keep our community thriving. We wear several hats (or, rather, pairs of glasses) here: small business, Andersonville resident, doctors’ offices, LGBTQ+ business, family practice, dog-friendly store, boutique, repair shop…and on and on and on.

Part of expanding our contribution to these many communities is giving back wherever we can. This includes our work with The Howard Brown Center and VOSH International, but it is also evident in our intern program. We open our doors to students in their last year of Optometry school at Illinois College of Optometry in the form of internships. We started working with students 10 years ago, and it is a great opportunity for the students to be challenged in a professional setting while providing a rewarding experience for both the students and the doctors who work with them. Additionally, patients in a teaching clinic environment like Visionary’s see firsthand how clinical decisions are made. The doctor will discuss the reasoning behind their diagnoses and choices in front of the patient, and this transparency is an added benefit to the patient care experience.

Visionary interns are focused entirely on patient care in their last year of school, and we are proud to be part of their clinical experience before striking out on their own. They’ve already taken their boards, and have a minimum of three years of patient care experience at the Illinois Eye Institute. Interns begin pretesting patients in their first year, and clinic responsibilities increase each year. At Visionary, we give the students a chance to see a wide variety of patients with varying eye health, so they can learn more than they would in a standard clinic setting. Prescribing contacts, for example, is not common in a typical clinic setting, but it is a necessary skill. From dealing with infections and disease to chronic pain and simple checkups, Visionary offers interns a chance to test their mettle on the entire spectrum of eye health while practicing efficiency and thoroughness in an independent business setting.

Our interns are supervised during each step of the exam and are eventually granted more autonomy with the approval of the attending optometrist. Over the course of their time here, honing their skills with Drs. Ciszek, Warner, and Johnson, and eventually are entrusted to perform full exams on their own. Prior to each intern-led exam, each patient chart is reviewed and discussed with the doctors in order for the exam to be considered complete. This means that any exam findings, prescriptions, or patient concerns have been reviewed, verified, and approved by the supervising optometrist.

On our end, this allows us to spend the time to thoroughly and efficiently examine each patient without rushing them through the exam. We want our patients to be heard and seen, without compromising service or quality of care. As a patient, we understand that you may sometimes feel uncomfortable having an intern perform your exam. If this is the case, please communicate your concerns with one of our team members in advance of your appointment. You can also tell your intern at the time of your exam, in which case the supervising OD will take over. Please be aware that this may limit the amount of time the doctor has to discuss the details of your case, as they will be spending time doing the testing that the intern would have done otherwise. We are happy to note your preference on your chart for future appointments and will schedule you accordingly going forward.

We are very satisfied with  the quality of the students we have received from ICO. Their academic excellence, clinical experience, and  attention to patient care have gone above and beyond our hopes and expectations. In fact, two of our permanent doctors started with us as interns, and our now proud members of our team.