Alumni focus on Heather Bowen-Jones (OD'11)
DR. BOWEN’S STORY
Which institution did you attend for your undergraduate degree? What was your major?
Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois Degree(s): Chemistry & Biochemistry Molecular Biology
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. Jacqueline Davis (OD’81), ocular disease instructor, and preceptor at Lower Lights. Dr. Davis inspired me to continue to work hard at every turn, even when I doubted myself. Her talks, guidance, and supportive nature were inspirational to me obtaining my optometric degree.
DR. BOWEN’S CAREER IN OPTOMETRY
Name of your employer(s) and title, including location.
Divine Family Eyecare (Columbus, Ohio) - Optometrist- primary care, contact lens fitting exams
Northwest EyeSurgeons (New Albany, Ohio) - Optometrist - primary care, pre- and post-operative exams
JCPenny (Lewis Center, Ohio) Permanent Fill-in, Optometrist - primary care
Give us a glimpse of your typical day as an optometrist.
Each day is very rewarding with a variety of opportunities to see different patients with diverse ocular needs. This is due to the large spectrum of insurance panels, and the multifaceted practice settings in which I work/serve. At Divine Family Eyecare, I can see 10-15 people per day ranging in age from eight years old until geriatrics. Most exams consist of routine primary care visits, some contact lenses fitting, and a few medical exams. While seeing patients at Northwest EyeSurgeons, there is a variety of patients mostly in the geriatrics age range for refractions, and some specialty contact fittings.
Which optometric issues concern you the most?
Throughout my career, the lack of education surrounding diabetic eye care and its importance, concerns me most. It is astounding when I hear that people do not know they could have diabetes in the eyes. This is especially concerning in the brown and black communities. This is especially concerning in communities with people of color.
Why did you choose a career in optometry?
I have been wearing glasses since the age of eight through the help of the Kiwanis Club! I wanted to find out why squinting improved my vision, but caused my head to hurt while doing that task. Optometry allowed me to use my science background and knowledge, and be able to apply it to educating my patients.
Where do you hope to see your optometric career in five years?
I hope to still be seeing and educating patients on the importance of primary eyecare and ocular disease management. I hope to continue to have my small group educational sessions on eye health and wellness.
What is one piece of advice you can give OPT-IV students as they prepare to graduate and begin their optometric careers?
My one piece of advice is find your niche that you are good at, explore to the fullest, and learn from every unique patient who sits in your chair. If you love pediatrics, contact lenses, vision therapy, primary care, or ocular disease (my favorite), practice management, you choose, the possibilities are endless. Let that ambition for greatness be what defines you as a doctor.
DR. BOWEN’S OHIO STATE EXPERIENCE
What were your most memorable moments at Ohio State?
My time spent with the black graduate/professional student caucus was instrumental in making cross disciplinary friendships, colleagues, and making my experience at The Ohio State more enjoyable. I enjoyed many weekends tailgating with my cousins and friends at football games.
I was featured in the University-wide magazine/video for recruitment for other minority students with Students First Students Now.
I really enjoyed being part of the rules video for the American Student Optometric Association student bowl contest.
Other activities and honors included:
American Student Optometric Association- Trustee- Elect / Trustee
AOSA Membership committee chair
AOSA Delegate representative to House of Delegates
American Optometric Association –AOA PAC representative
Black Graduate/Professional Student Caucus
National Optometric Student Association
Student Ambassadors for the College of Optometry
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical School Project Professionalism
What do Ohio State and the College of Optometry mean to you and your family?
The Ohio State University community and the College of Optometry gave me a foundation for my future in optometry. The relationships that were established have been integral to my career, in that I have lifelong colleagues and friends.
How do you stay connected with the College of Optometry?
I take my children for their annual eye exam to the College of Optometry. I also attend and participate in minority events, and take part in the many continuing education courses offered by The Ohio State University.
What has the COVID-19 experience taught you about patient care?
The very trying time has taught me that people are very afraid of the unknown, and communication is key. I have been able to change my patient education, referrals, and overall quality of time I have with each patient. COVID has taught me to slow down. I have learned to embrace the quality of time I spend with each patient more.
How do you imagine patient care will change in the future, in light of the COVID-19 public health crisis?
I’ve already seen a decline in people receiving eye care due to COVID-19. We have to continue to advocate for eye health and encourage the patients to maintain routine eye exams and advance care exams.
DR. BOWEN’S FUN FACTS
What are your current hobbies, volunteer work and interests?
My current hobbies include: reading, volunteering with church, attending sporting events, and cultural art events. Being a wife to my husband Dameon, and mother to the most beautiful girls, Avery and Brynn.
What was the first concert that you attended / most recent?
My most recent/last concert (due to COVID) would have been watching my husband (he was in the choir that sang with Andrea Bocelli at the Schottenstein Center).
My favorite concert was Celine Deion at the Schottenstein Center.
What’s the best eye pun you’ve ever heard?
Why did the land line phone say it couldn’t see? Because it did not have any “contacts.”
If not an optometrist, I would be…
I would be a chemist! I loved studying reactions and completing experiments.