Photography by Steve Craft.
Excerpted from page 56 of the September/October 2022 edition of AOA Focus.
Shantia Hinderlider, CPO, of Oregon, is the 2022 Paraoptometric Community Service Award winner. Having served in the profession since 1986, Hinderlider has worn many different hats in her career, from front desk to pre-testing. But for the past few decades, her humanitarian heart has shone not only in her work in vision therapy but also in giving back to her community.
What do you love most about being a paraoptometric?
There has been a lot of growth and many changes over the years, providing endless opportunities to learn about all aspects of optometry. I have been a vision therapist since 1999—that is my career “true love!” I enjoy the challenge of working with patients to determine the treatment plan that will benefit them most. It is extremely rewarding to see patients improve their lives and to be part of that process.
What motivates you in your practice?
Camaraderie. Over the years, many of the staff and doctors I have worked with have become like family. They are some of my favorite people, and we have shared a lot of life together. It is special to be part of a caring, knowledgeable and dedicated health care team.
How did you get involved in your community professionally?
Professionally, our practice has been able to partner with several schools to provide vision screenings for students, as well as in service meetings to educate teachers and school staff about vision and learning. We worked with a class of fifth graders to educate them about eyes and vision. We were able to partner with a Family Access Network advocate at an elementary school to provide an exam, glasses and vision therapy for a third-grade student with two incarcerated parents. I was able to go to her school and meet with her during recess to help her with vision therapy.
Where else have you gotten involved?
We have been able to apply for two local grants, which give us the opportunity to help our patients financially. We use these funds for any patient who needs financial assistance with any service in our office. Many vision therapy patients would not be able to afford care without it. We were recently able to use the grant to provide glasses for an 11-year-old Ukrainian refugee who has settled, with her mom and relatives, in our town of Bend, Oregon. It is very heartwarming to hear back from patients about the impact that has been made in their lives.
How do you make the most of AOA associate membership?
Education is always helpful. We use articles and information to educate staff and patients. I always look forward to AOA continuing education, and I am especially excited to attend events such as Optometry’s Meeting®. We appreciate that the AOA offers paraoptometric membership with training and continuing education resources.
September is Paraoptometric Appreciation Month, celebrating optometric practice staff around the country. Two paraoptometric professionals who provide eye care as active-duty veterans in the United States Armed Forces share their stories.
When the AOA and AOSA gathered June 21-24 in Washington, D.C., for Optometry’s Meeting® 2023, the profession set aside time to recognize the outstanding contributions of its members.