Notable Alumna


Dr. Debbie Hettler
Class of 1980

Dr. Hettler is the Clinical Director, Associated Health Education at VA Headquarters in Washington, DC, where she is involved with the policy and oversight for 40 clinical education disciplines. She is the first optometrist to work in the Office of Academic Affiliations at the Central Office and still sees patients at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, MD, and carries an appointment as Adjunct Associate Professor at Salus University. Prior to this position, she established and developed an optometric education program in the VA, which evolved into optometric externships and residencies with four optometry schools, internal medicine rotations, nurse practitioner observations, and interactions with an ophthalmology teaching program.

Dr. Hettler previously was a full- time educator and has also worked clinically in interdisciplinary settings including VA, HMOs, contact lens research clinics, union occupational health offices, and private practices. She is a Regional Quality Assurance Representative conducting office inspections and record audits and consulting with eye care practitioners on improving clinical skills and documentation of patient care. Additional accreditation activities include acting as a consultant for the Council on Optometric Education and the Council on Education for Public Health and as a National Board of Optometry Examiner.

Dr. Hettler is recognized as an expert in optometry-related public health as demonstrated by her Diplomate status and leadership position in the American Academy of Optometry’s Public Health and Environmental Optometry Section and her Distinguished Practitioner in and Co-chair of the Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Practice in Optometry. She has served as chair of several committees and sections of the American Optometric Association, including the Multidisciplinary Practice Section and the Public Health Task Force. She has been an elected leader in local optometric societies in New York, Illinois and Missouri. Currently, she is a VA representative to the Federal Education and Training Interagency Group working on public health and medical education training standards for disaster medicine. She has also been an active leader with APHA and served in all offices of the Vision Care Section and has been the Chair of the APHA Education Board, Co-Chair of APHA Joint Policy Committee, Treasurer of the Metropolitan Washington Public Health Association, and an ex officio member of the APHA Executive Board and the Affiliate Representative Governing Councilor for Region 3 representing Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and District of Columbia in the Council of Affiliates.



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