Excerpted from page 16 of the September 2018 edition of AOA Focus.
It didn't take Carol Lovell, CPOT, CPOC, long to find her calling in life-whether she knew it or not, upon graduating high school Lovell found herself a career and not just another job.
Twenty-five years later, Lovell continues to be a passionate and staunch advocate of paraoptometric certification and education, holding the most advanced certification (CPOT) recognized by the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification and maintaining her ABO certification.
Lovell, two-time past president of the Wyoming Paraoptometric Association (WPA) Board, is committed to the field of paraoptometry, having served on AOA's Paraoptometric Resource Center and the State Affiliate Relations subcommittee. Additionally, she has served as WPA historian and now serves as the Vision Source staff facilitator for Wyoming.
Active in her community, Lovell volunteers at The Legacy Living and Rehabilitation Center, as well as the Campbell County Healthcare Foundation Festival of Trees that raises funds for the Close to Home Hospice Hospitality House, Lifeline Emergency Response System and the PET/CT Capital Campaign "Improving Cancer Care ... One IMAGE at a Time."
Lovell, the AOA's 2018 Paraoptometric of the Year, spoke with AOA Focus about turning a job into a career and her career into a passion.
Tell us about the career path that has brought you to this point.
I first came into the workforce and attained a job as a receptionist with Drs. Long and Helmers in Mandan, North Dakota, and there I was able to expand my knowledge by going to their satellite offices. But to do this, I had to learn contact lenses, frames, measurements and everything in between. My life path brought me to Marianna, Florida, and while employed at Davis Optometry, I attended the Southeastern Conference of Optometry and learned about the AOA and the ability to become a certified optometric staff member. I then proceeded to learn and seek certification as a paraoptometric technician. Once I became a CPOT [certified paraoptometric technician], and after a couple of moves to different states, I landed a job at Gillette Optometric Clinic, PC, in Gillette, Wyoming. That's when I learned about the Certified Paraoptometric Coder certification, and I obtained that in 2013. I have been with Gillette Optometric Clinic since 2006. The doctors here encourage all their staff to become certified, and they encourage the staff to be active in representing the field of optometry at local, state and national functions. So, I've stepped up my career by becoming involved with the AOA Paraoptometric Resource Center.
To what do you attribute your tenure in the field of paraoptometry?
It's absolutely my certification. If I wasn't certified, I don't believe I would still be in this field. I had never thought of this field as a career until I obtained my certification.
What importance do you place on continuing education in your career?
Education is very important to me in my career-even some of the most basic things need to be reviewed every once in a while to ensure we're equipped with the latest information. If you don't use it daily, you forget it, so it is vital to continually review things and learn new things. You become more valuable if you continue to seek knowledge in the field.
What words of wisdom do you have for other paraoptometrics in the field?
Look at paraoptometry as a career and not as a job. Become certified, too. You don't know the pride you feel until you have that certification behind your name.