Alumni Focus on Beata Lewandowska (OD’04)
DR. LEWANDOWSKA'S STORY
I was born and raised in Warsaw, Poland, but southeast Florida has been home for a long time now.
Which institution did you attend for your undergraduate degree? What was your major?
The University of Florida was my undergraduate institution. My major was chemistry.
Which degree(s), related to optometry, did you earn at Ohio State?
Who were your mentors at the College of Optometry? Who had a positive effect on your education?
Dr. Earley spoke with the speed of light about things that seemed very complicated yet became simple after his course. Dr. Green (now Dr. Heard) sat in the corner during the preclinical proficiency exam and certified that I was ready as a student to start patient care. Dr. Nerderman at Faith Mission made us feel like we could soon do this independently. Dr. Wright told us stories about money changing hands and how we too could become successful business owners. Dr. Fogt, Dr. Zadnik, Dr. Barr, Dr. Bullimore, Dr. Polasky, Dr. Flom, Dr. Good, Dr. Mutti, Dr. Nixon, Dr. Newcomb, Dr. Pierce, Dr. King-Smith, Drs. Nichols, Dr. Fertel, and everyone else who wanted to make us into successful optometrists.
DR. LEWANDOWSKA'S CAREER IN OPTOMETRY
Name of your employer(s) and title, including location.
After 12 years in MD/OD tertiary care private practice I decided to move to academia. I am currently an associate professor at the College of Optometry at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Give us a glimpse of your typical day as an optometrist.
The day starts with a cappuccino and ends with a cup of chamomile tea. In between, things get pretty busy. The activities vary with the semester. There may be lectures, seminars, laboratories, patient care, office hours, committee meetings, scholarship activities, administrative work, cooking, family time, house chores, catching up with friends and current world events, and planning the next adventure. On the weekend there may be some time to go to the beach, enjoy the sunshine, spend time with family and friends, bake, and prepare for the activities of the upcoming week.
Which optometric issues concern you the most?
Education or, as Dr. Anthony DeNapoli used to call it, the business of changing lives. Our own, our students, other health professions, our patients, our communities, and the governments who set limits on our practice.
Why did you choose a career in optometry?
Growing up in Poland, the profession of optometry didn’t exist. I wanted to learn about the eyes and vision to understand why my Dad’s enucleated eye wasn’t replaced with a transplant. I wanted to learn about all the instruments the doctors who examined my eyes in first grade and in seventh grade used. I wanted a career that would allow me to apply the science I learned, work with people, and give me an opportunity to be independent.
Where do you hope to see your optometric career in five years?
I would like to become a better teacher and continue to do research about effective methods of teaching optometry students. I would also like to develop opportunities for optometry students to connect through international exchange programs.
What is one piece of advice you can give OPT-IV students as they prepare to graduate and begin their optometric careers?
Continue to invest in yourself, pursue your interests, be patient, and recognize the opportunities around you.
DR. LEWANDOWSKA'S OHIO STATE EXPERIENCE
What were your most memorable moments at Ohio State?
Dr. Earley taught us about visual fields and how you can never sneak up on a bunny because its eyes are set further apart giving them a broader visual field. After the class, we walked outside and there it was on the side of the building, a little bunny! The theory was immediately put into practice but this little fellow must have been very hungry and didn’t mind at all the first-year optometry students trying to sneak up on it.
What do Ohio State and the College of Optometry mean to you and your family?
I truly appreciate everything I learned and experienced at Ohio State. The education we received was top-notch. I made so many lifelong friends. I feel incredibly privileged to have been accepted to the program and graduated from The Ohio State University’s College of Optometry.
How do you stay connected with the College of Optometry?
Mostly through social media and the Alumni Society.
What has the COVID-19 experience taught you about patient care?
It’s important to develop, apply, and improve innovative technology to help us provide care to patients remotely but let’s not take for granted the human aspects of patient care.
DR. LEWANDOWSKA'S FUN FACTS
What are your current hobbies, volunteer work, and interests?
I love to travel, see the beauty of our planet, and to learn new things. Before the pandemic, I volunteered to go on an SVOSH mission trip to Ecuador and I am looking forward to the time we can do it again. Last year I volunteered with a RAM pop-up clinic to provide eye exams to the local community.
What is a fun, random fact about you?
I am a polyglot. I heard once that John Paul II spoke 12 languages and I set out on a mission to do the same. Thus far I have learned Polish, English, Russian, German, Italian, Latin, Spanish, and French but it’s getting harder to maintain proficiency as I only use four of these languages on a weekly basis.
What’s the best eye pun you’ve ever heard?
Eat your carrots! Have you ever seen a rabbit wearing glasses?
If not an optometrist, I would be …
So many options … a linguist? A cognitive scientist? Or a pianist? A French pastry chef!