Home > Blog > May 2021 > Meet Ophthalmic Medical Technician Program Director, Dimitra Triantafilou

Meet Ophthalmic Medical Technician Program Director, Dimitra Triantafilou

Posted: May 25, 2021 by Diane Smith
woman poses in front of eye equipment
Dimitra Triantafilou CO, COT is the Ophthalmic Medical Technician Program Director at our Denver Campus.
 


With more than a decade of experience in the field, Ophthalmic Medical Technician (OMT) Program Director Dimitra Triantafilou, CO, COT, is a wealth of information. She recently sat down with us to talk about the profession and the program at our Denver Campus. Learn why the program might be a great fit if you are interested in this field.
 
Q: How would you describe your job to someone outside the medical field?

A: “We are highly specialized technicians who take care of an organ that is extremely important to our patients—their eyes. Ophthalmic Medical Technicians work with an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) to provide direct patient care. We spend a lot of time getting to know patients by taking a history, checking vision, doing special tests and photography of the eyes, and helping the doctor to explain medical conditions and surgeries to patients. This is a unique field within healthcare that not many people know about. It is truly rewarding to learn about the eyes and their diseases in great depth, to do so many different tests and exam elements with patients, and to work so closely with the eye doctor as an essential part of the healthcare team.

woman demonstrates a piece of medical eye equipment on a female student The Denver OMT program is the only program of its kind in the state and surrounding areas. The program can be completed in less than two years.
Q: Describe what being an ophthalmic medical technician means to you. 

A: “As an ophthalmic technician, I am a physician extender. I am the first person who sees a patient, listens to their chief complaint and history, and gains their trust by performing my specialized testing before they see the doctor. Being an ophthalmic medical technician means that the physician trusts me for my knowledge and expertise to perform accurate eye exams, and to develop rapport with the patient and the eye care team to provide the best care I possibly can.”

Q: What drew you to this profession and made you want to enter the OMT field?

A: “I wanted a career where I could directly improve others’ quality of life and connect with people. I’ve always been a helper and a socialite, and I love to learn. The OMT career challenges me to develop these skills by taking care of patients and connecting with them every day, and thinking critically to get efficient and relevant exams done. I love learning and there is always something new to read, learn about or study in this field. It’s humbling to always be learning.”

Q: Describe a typical “day in the life” of an OMT.

A: “There is no typical day and that is part of the fun! You never know who is going to come into the clinic and what challenge you’ll be presented with. Every patient is different. Usually the day is an eight-hour clinical shift in a private eye clinic or outpatient hospital setting, and the main duty is to do intake, interview and workup each patient for the doctor. OMT’s can also participate in clinical research, teach, provide patient education, talk to patients on the phone and so much more.”

Q: What is the toughest part of the work you do?

A: “The toughest part is dealing with patients who have vision problems that cannot be corrected. Some patients have serious issues that cannot be fixed with glasses or medical treatment and this can be hard for patients and families. It can be emotionally taxing to witness patients suffering with these issues. It’s a challenge to think outside the box to find ways to make these patients’ lives a little brighter.”

Q: What is the most fulfilling part of your profession?

A: “Each patient’s history and exam is unique, and it becomes like a puzzle that you and the doctor partner together to solve. It’s rewarding when you see the results of your patient care pay off with the doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan. It’s fulfilling that your knowledge, skills and diligence made a difference in someone’s quality of life. Also, I’ve been lucky to work with incredible ophthalmologists throughout my career. It’s very fulfilling to gain the ophthalmologist’s trust and to truly feel like an extension of the physician and to work with them as part of a respected healthcare team. Once you develop a solid working relationship, patients look forward to seeing the doctor and the OMT.”

Woman talks to female student while in the ophthalmic medical technician lab classroom Ophthalmic Medical Technicians play a key role in the eye health of their patients.

Q: What you would consider the top three things people may not know/understand about the job of an OMT?

A: 1. “There are SO many options for this career path! As an OMT, you can work with physicians in several different specialties within ophthalmology. You can work with an eye doctor who prescribes glasses, a surgeon who performs complicated procedures on the retina (the back of the eye) or a neuro-ophthalmologist who diagnoses and treats vision for people with brain tumors. You can specialize in diagnostic photography and ophthalmic imaging and become an expert at photographing and analyzing different scans of the eyes. You can work in a big hospital or in a private practice. You can teach medical students or specialize in research studies. You can work in surgical assisting. You can work with children and adults of all ages. Ophthalmology truly is a world of its own within healthcare and the opportunities for Ophthalmic Medical Technicians are endless.
 
2. “Ophthalmic Technicians are in high demand— the number of job openings is expected to grow by 19% in the next 10 years. One hundred percent of our program graduates have found jobs over the last several years and many of them get hired at their clinical externship sites. Eye doctors in Colorado and in neighboring states are always looking to hire Pima Medical grads.”
 
3.”OMT ranks highly in the US News and World Report’s “Top 100 Careers in Healthcare” due to the quality of life, salary and job availability.”

If all of this isn’t enough, Triantafilou  added. “When people think of a career in medicine, they often think of doctors and nurses, and years of medical schooling that seems expensive, arduous and out of reach. But it doesn’t have to be. There are so many stable, fulfilling careers in healthcare outside of being a doctor or a nurse. Becoming an OMT is affordable and the education is difficult, yet manageable for anyone with the focus and determination to do the work. Earning an education and certification as an Ophthalmic Medical Technician opens the door to a rewarding career in medicine in as little as 20 months.

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