Alumni Focus on Joanna Cammenga (OD'16)
DR. CAMMENGA'S STORY
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?
I think we had a fabulous team of educators for in-class learning. I also learned a lot from my clinical attendings, who all challenged me in different ways to stretch myself. I'm grateful for all of the educators who invested time in my learning!
DR. CAMMENGA'S CAREER IN OPTOMETRY
Name of your employer(s) and title, including location.
I work at a private practice called Accent on Vision, where I am a part-time optometrist in Tucson, Arizona.
Give us a glimpse of your typical day as an optometrist.
My typical day includes seeing patients of all ages for mostly comprehensive eye exams, including a lot of contact lens exams, some medical office visits and glaucoma care.
Which optometric issues concern you the most?
I am very interested in myopia management. It is no small thing to me to be able to slow down nearsightedness and prevent possible adverse associated outcomes including myopia maculopathy, glaucoma, cataracts, and retinal detachments. I have done my best to stay on top of the research and currently offer myopia management for children in my practice with soft multifocal contact lenses.
Why did you choose a career in optometry?
I was naturally drawn to health sciences since I was young. I was very interested in pursuing a career that can impact others' lives directly. I was very fond of my optometrist, who I saw since I was in the fourth grade. She took the time to educate me on the field and show me what she loved to do. I love being able to connect with patients one-on-one and hopefully create a welcoming environment where patients feel they can ask me anything and trust me to help them to the best of my abilities.
Where do you hope to see your optometric career in five years?
I am currently loving my job here in Tucson and I hope to continue to be working there.
What is one piece of advice you can give OPT IV students as they prepare to graduate and begin their optometric careers?
Soak in every tiny bit of advice from your teachers/attendings. Even if you feel like you've got it all down, you don't :) Expect to be continuously learning throughout your career. Take advantage of the top-notch team of educators you have access to now so when you walk into your first day of work on your own, you can recall all they have taught you and be ready to tackle the hard stuff. Don't be afraid to consult with others once you're out there. We are a giant team spread across the nation!
DR. CAMMENGA'S OHIO STATE EXPERIENCE
What were your most memorable moments at Ohio State?
Oh man, it was a fun four years, where to start? :) The EyeBalls, Centennial celebration, being a part of Epsilon Psi Epsilon, countless study sessions with friends. I enjoyed going to the AOA meetings and cheering on our Student Bowl contestants, and even getting to participate in the filming of a student bowl rules video one year! The list could go on, it was a very fun experience :)
What do Ohio State and the College of Optometry mean to you and your family?
Ohio State Optometry provided top-notch preparation into a fabulous career that my whole family is grateful for.
How do you stay connected with the College of Optometry?
I read the Alumni Magazine and any emails sent my way. I hope to be able to attend events in person and reconnect as things start back up and having small children allows :)
How do you imagine patient care will change in the future, in light of the COVID-19 public health crisis?
I wouldn't be surprised if all the PPE sticks around in healthcare environments in the future. Also, at our office in particular, we began to schedule many services in our optical as well, which helps with the flow of people in the office.
DR. CAMMENGA'S FUN FACTS
Tell us about your first-ever eye exam.
I am pretty sure it was on my dad, and it took a good three hours. There's nothing wrong with his eyes ... Talk about thorough :) One of my favorite skill practice stories though was my first time doing goldmann tonometry and I was using my husband as my subject. He was such a good sport as I poked him in the eye for way too long. At the end he was sweating and dizzy and Dr. Dawn Goedde (OD’04) recommended not practicing on him for that anymore :)
What are your current hobbies, volunteer work, interests?
Currently a major focus in our life is in our home. My husband and I began our journey as foster parents in the spring of 2019 and it has been quite a ride! We have had eight children in our home over the last two years, ranging in age of 3 days to 3.5 years. It has been incredible being involved in the lives of these kids and their biological families. I have been humbled and surprised at the relationships we were able to form. We have been so genuinely excited when some of the kids were able to reunite with their biological families and still stay in touch with several of them. In April 2020, we adopted our son, Andrew :) As the world was beginning to shut down due to COVID, our adoption ceremony was moved to Zoom. It was different than expected, but had a blessing in disguise of allowing friends and family from all over the country to participate in it as well.
What was the first concert that you attended / most recent?
Good Charlotte (HA!) was the first, and I want to say the most recent was the band Fun. We recently were bigger fans of going to Broadway shows and had season tickets here in Tucson for the last few years. We are excited for them to get back up and running!
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
Reading minds ... to a certain level :) I would just love to be able to have clearer lines of communication with everyone I interacted with.
What’s the best eye pun you’ve ever heard?
It's too hard to choose, I think they're all so cornea :)
If not an optometrist, I would be ...
Probably a high school science teacher or social worker.