Alumni Focus on Royland Samms (OD'95)

DR. SAMMS' STORY

Hometown

Born in Jamaica, but moved to Canada when I was very young. I became an American citizen during my fourth year of optometry school.

Were you the first optometrist in your family?

Yes.

Why did you choose to attend Ohio State?

Ohio State was the best optometry school and I wanted to learn from the best.

Which degree(s), related to optometry, did you earn at Ohio State?

Doctor of Optometry, 1995

Name a mentor from the College of Optometry or a person who had a positive effect on your education.

Dr. Joe Barr had the greatest impression on me as a student because of his engaging communication style and how he translated the importance of those skills to me.

DR. SAMMS' CAREER IN OPTOMETRY

Where do you practice, currently?

Self-employed at Atlantic Vision Care—Hamilton, Bermuda

Briefly explain some of your daily job responsibilities or patient interactions.

We do a little bit of everything, including a lot of time caring for keratoconus patients, which is unusually common on the island. I am very fortunate to have two great associates in my office that help balance the clinical and patient care dimensions of our practice. However, recently, I have spent much more time focused on the administrative side of things, so I no longer see as many patients.

Tell us a special story that relates to your career now.

Our office has literally "blown up" since day one and it’s been challenging, and rewarding, to be constantly keeping up with the needs of the community around us. Bermuda is only 22 square miles and there are a total of about six optometric and two ophthalmology practices. Next thing you know, our office becomes the largest and we grew out of our location in three years. I have had to draw on everything from my experience at Ohio State to figure out how to deal with such rapid growth while training staff where there were none with prior experience. At times, we were forced to be really creative, as there was no template for what we were trying to bring to the island.

What’s one thing you learned during your education that has affected you most in your career?

I don’t know if it’s any one thing, Ohio State has such an all-around comprehensive preparation. I definitely felt both prepared clinically and theoretically, which gives you confidence in what you do.

Why did you choose a career in optometry?

It was during a career fair in high school that I first heard of optometry. I later decided that I wanted to pursue the medical sciences, but figured that I should shadow or talk to the physicians personally in order to understand what it was all about. I reached out to many different types of medical professionals who were usually too busy. I ended up speaking to their office associates rather than the doctor individually. But every time that I reached out to an optometrist, they were always so friendly and made time for me - encouraging me to pursue the profession. At this point, I realized that if you cannot make time for a student, then that’s not saying a lot for the profession.

Which optometric issues concern you the most?

In Bermuda, we are on the verge of therapeutics. This, of course, has ignited the usual battle with our medical colleagues. It’s not always been pleasant but my hope that we can get something figured out soon.

Advice for aspiring optometrists.

Be aware of the competitive environment you will face. I have tried to provide mentorship for those that are interested and to provide a realistic picture of the industry – it’s certainly not as easy as it once was. However, as long as you stay plugged into the community and set goals, you should be fine.

DR. SAMMS' FUN FACTS

Most memorable moment(s) at Ohio State.

Outside of the classroom, I was pretty involved in my church and local sports including attending Ohio State basketball games. I guess I was lucky to be here during the basketball heyday of Jimmy Jackson and I remember that being a lot of fun.

What are your current hobbies, volunteer work, interests?

In school, my classmates got me playing golf at the Scarlet and Grey course, which has been a nice hobby that I’ve stayed with. Not that I’m any better.

What does Ohio State mean to you?

This place means family. Having been on both sides, it is apparent that there is a genuine spirit of wanting to help each other between the students and faculty. Everyone treats you like family and you just don’t get that everywhere.

If not an optometrist, I would be ...

Probably orthopedic surgery

Final thoughts ...

My time spent at Ohio State was better than I could have ever hoped for and I love wearing my Ohio State pride everywhere I go.