Excerpted from page 20 of the April/May 2018 edition of AOA Focus.
Years ago, when Sally Greeley, CPOT, got her start in eye care working 12 hours a week as a medical transcriptionist, she kept a dictionary close by-for looking up medical terminology.
"Every time I didn't know a word, I looked it up," says Greeley, the AOA's 2017 Paraoptometric of the Year.
As much as anything, that episode says something important about Greeley's curiosity and commitment to do her job well. At the time, she was an office manager. What she doesn't know, she has taught herself or sought professional improvement through her paraoptometric certification.
Today, she works at Poulin & Associates Eye Center in Waterville, Maine, and has been in eye care for more than three decades. Greeley holds a number of certifications: American Board of Opticianry (ABO), National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) and certified paraoptometric technician (CPOT), the latter earned in 2003. She has served in numerous roles, including helping to jumpstart a mentoring program for paraoptometrics in Maine. Greeley makes time to serve as vice chair of the AOA Commission on Paraoptometric Certification, co-chair of its Certification Exam Committee and chair of its Coding and Billing Committee.
In her local community, she is dedicated to educating the public on the importance of eye care.
In an interview with AOA Focus, Greeley explains what drives her passion for optometry.
What did receiving Paraoptometric of the Year mean to you?
I felt I was being acknowledged for all of my hard work and dedication to optometry. It just goes to show that if you set goals for yourself, you can achieve them. It was quite an honor.
What do you love about working in optometry?
I have always enjoyed working with patients, whether I was working at the front desk or answering their insurance questions. I am a people person, and I love the interaction. If you show them you care about them as a person and treat them well, you have a lifelong patient. I also have made many friends over the years. I have a network of colleagues I can consult with if an issue comes up in the office. It doesn't get any better than that.
What drives your passion for certification and continuing education for recertification?
I didn't take the certification exams to pass them and get a raise. That wasn't my intent. My intent was for knowledge. And I always thought that if my husband and I ever moved, my knowledge would go with me-it doesn't stay behind. I also like keeping up with the changes in optometry and being valuable to my practice. I've worked in about every position in an optometric office. You can help your staff better by understanding what they're doing. I got my opticianry certification, but I wasn't going to be fixing glasses. But, when a patient called, I wanted to be knowledgeable and be able to ask the right questions. When you hang that certificate on the wall, patients see it and they know you are going above and beyond for them to provide the best care you can. It also empowers you and makes you feel proud of your accomplishments.
You count your former employer, Richard Smart, O.D., as being tremendously supportive of your efforts to get your certifications. What did he do to support you?
He enrolled me as an AOA associate member, which member doctors can do at no cost, gave me access to programs and services that offer education and staff training, and provided a path for my certifications. To this day, whenever I go to professional meetings, I ask people, 'Are you certified?