Tamara Petrosyan, OD: State University of New York College of Optometry – Young Optometrist of the Year Award
When Dr. Petrosyan was appointed to lead the New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians (NJSOP) Young OD Taskforce in 2014, it was an opportunity to give back in just the way that experienced ODs had guided her when she was getting started in the profession. “The mentors I sought out helped me gain confidence in planning my career and getting involved, as well as when to take a step back when I was getting overwhelmed,” she says. “I want to let students and new graduates know that practicing ODs are here to talk and support them.” She facilitates these connections between young NJSOP-member doctors and their more experienced colleagues. “The association is like a family, and members need to support each other to thrive.”
Dr. Petrosyan, who works in New York and lives in New Jersey, says that experience drives her continual involvement. “We are able to prescribe oral medications in New Jersey, but not in New York,” she says, and laws relating to minor surgeries vary greatly from state to state. “It’s important to protect our profession. Young graduates should get involved because doctors fought for the scope of practice we have today. If we don’t fight for our rights, we are in danger of losing the rights we already have.”
Dr. Petrosyan, a mom herself, advocates for comprehensive children’s eye exams. When she worked at the Refuah Health Center, a multidisciplinary clinic in New Valley, New York, she educated the pediatric department on the benefits of comprehensive eye exams and developed a new system for pediatric eye care with the pediatric nurses and physicians, emphasizing that difficulty reading or having headaches or eye strain may be connected to an undiagnosed ocular issue. Early intervention can help. Dr. Petrosyan was appointed to become the New Jersey state liaison for InfantSEE® in 2013, and through this AOA program, Dr. Petrosyan creates awareness about the importance of eye exams with parents, pediatricians and her OD colleagues. Doctors who participate offer a one-time, no-cost, comprehensive eye exam to children under the age of 1.
As an educator, Dr. Petrosyan say, “You have to be on top of your game and know the material backwards and forwards so you can teach it to others. It’s an environment that’s moving forward with the profession, and I work with the brightest and best doctors in the field on clinical research with new equipment.” Dr. Petrosyan says that she is grateful to be recognized by the AOA. “I hope that I can serve as an example that younger ODs can and should be involved. They can make a difference.”