Drs Bob and Rosie Melrose represented Brookside Optometric at the 2022 UC Berkeley, Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science practice emersion program this year. The program is designed to give interns at the school a familiarity as to what they will encounter when they graduate and enter the world of patient care away from the academic environment.
The Drs Melrose were happy to participate considering this program at the University had its origins here in Stockton over the last 45 years!
Dr Hisaka, a Stockton native, graduated from the University of California, Berkeley School of Optometry in the mid 1970’s and returned to Stockton to enter private practice. Dr Judy Prima joined the practice two years later. Dr Hisaka and Dr Prima had both joined the clinical faculty at the UC Berkeley Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science and had begun hosting a day long program in the office and at their homes to acquaint the student interns with the necessary skills they would need to master when they began practicing their profession away from the academic environment. Dr Hisaka and Dr Prima would bring in bankers, lawyers, real-estate agents, Optical lab owners, and representatives from quality frame and contact lens companies to offer their advice as to what the students needed to start doing to prepare for graduation. Both Rosemary and Robert Melrose attended one of these meetings in 1981 which led them to join the practice upon graduation in 1982.
Our practice continued to host these functions for the student interns on a yearly basis until we realized the students needed something more. In 2016 we realized that the students needed to observe a practice as it was operating to understand the nuances of how a practice operates and that they needed time to talk to staff to learn the duties and challenges of enrollment of patients, frame styling and billing of patients. This was not something we could do in a single day.
We approached the VSP Vision Insurance Company to see if they would be willing to provide funds to cover lodging expenses for the students so they could take two days to observe how our practice worked. VSP was very happy to assist us in this program. We then contacted the school to arrange for groups of students to come out to Stockton for two days to observe. We began our new program with the students in the spring of 2017.
The students were very excited to attend this program. One of the highlights was on the first night when the Brookside Doctors would take them out to dinner and answer all questions they may have about the practice of our profession.
The students returned to school raving about the experience. The feedback was so good that the school began working with other northern California practices to offer the same experience for the interns. VSP continued to provide financial help with travel costs and was so impressed with the results that they have since reached out to many of the Optometry Schools in the nation to put this program in place in other states.
We had no idea when these meetings first started so many years ago would grow into a national program. While the pandemic has forced us to go virtual for the last three years, we do have high hopes that in 2023 we will be back to an in-person program again. Until then we always make sure that the interns know we are only a phone call away if they have any questions, we could help them with. Our motivation to do this is very simple-when you love your profession you need to do whatever you can to help those who come after you to succeed. We hope our efforts have had impact.