Alumni Focus on Christine Myers Mikolaj (OD'08)
DR. MIKOLAJ'S STORY
Were you the first optometrist in your family?
I am the first optometrist in my family.
Why did you choose to attend Ohio State?
The reputation for being such a great academic school/program and when you grow up in Ohio, who doesn't want to be a Buckeye!
Which degree(s), related to optometry, did you earn at Ohio State?
Doctor of optometry, graduated 2008. I did a residency in ocular disease at the Columbus/Chillicothe VA.
Name a mentor from the College of Optometry or a person who had a positive effect on your education.
All my professors had a positive effect on my education. From Dr. Earley in the classroom to Dr. Nerderman in the clinic, I always felt that everyone was so vested in my success and I was able to take something from every experience. I truly feel all my professors/instructors prepared me for the challenges I face on a daily basis.
DR. MIKOLAJ'S CAREER IN OPTOMETRY
Where do you practice, currently?
Simpson Optical - Lexington, KY
Briefly explain some of your daily job responsibilities or patient interactions.
We are a general practice seeing everything from pediatrics to geriatrics. I see and treat a wide variety of vision problems ranging from contact lens fittings to ocular disease. The state of Kentucky requires an eye exam for children to enter preschool or kindergarten, this gives me the opportunity to see a lot of children for their first eye exam. Being a parent myself, it is highly rewarding to catch and help parents treat common problems before they effect their children's ability to learn in school. We also have a wide range of equipment to detect and treat ocular disease, including an OCT, VF and a Diopsys (VEP/ERG).
Tell us a special story that relates to your career now.
It is very satisfying when your persistence pays off. I was treating a teenager who had never worn glasses or contact in the past because a previous doctor told him it would just give him headaches. I believed this patient could still be corrected and we decided to give it a try. It took multiple visits and a lot of patience, but I was able to get him fit in a custom contact. When we were finally finished he told me he had never been able to see so well and he was extremely grateful (he has been accepted to play football at Harvard next year). I have never been the type of person that will back away from a challenge just because something is going to be difficult or complicated. These types of patients are the reason I love what I do and love the fact that everyday is a new experience waiting to happen.
What’s one thing you learned during your education which has affected you most in your career?
To know what normal is, and when in doubt it’s ok to get a second opinion!
Why did you choose a career in optometry?
I told my father in middle school that I wanted to be an eye doctor and kept with it. I love my career and am thankful this is the profession I pursued. I love that everyday I have the ability to truly effect a person's life and I love the variety of my job.
What optometric issues concern you the most?
Billing and coding, these areas are getting extremely complicated and taking away from patient care/time.
Why are you passionate about your career?
I love helping people see better. I know how much I appreciated my first pair of glasses and I love being able to give everyone a chance to go through life with the best vision possible. It is a profession that is so challenging and so rewarding on a daily basis. What could be better than that!
Advice for other aspiring optometrists.
Take every opportunity through school to learn something new. You never know when you may need to summon that experience to help you through a current situation.
DR. MIKOLAJ'S FUN FACTS
Most memorable moment(s) at Ohio State.
Memorable moments: pledging our optometry fraternity, EYE was a wonderful part of my 4 years at Ohio State. Living in the EYE house made my first year a fun experience. Other great memories: football games, Mirror Lake, Thurmans, the EYEball. Having knee surgery starting my second year, not such a great memory :-).
What are your current hobbies, volunteer work, interests?
Currently my infant son, I also love to travel when I have time.
What does Ohio State mean to you?
Ohio State means a lot to me. We were provided with a top rated education and I am proud to an alumni. I met my future husband while attending Ohio State and I have many fond memories of my time in Columbus.
If not an optometrist, I would be ...
Since my undergrad is in Biochem I guess I would have to do pharmaceutical sales or lab research. I put all my energy and focus into becoming an optometrist, so I never really considered pursing other careers if this didn't work out.
Final thoughts ...
My husband graduated from Med school at Ohio State so we are proud Buckeyes in our house. We have lived in Alabama, and we are currently living in Kentucky while he finishes his residency in cardiology. No matter where we go we will always bleed scarlet and grey!