UW Mentorship: Dr. Letheren

Authors: Matthew Czikk, Vaness Ho, Grace Sim, Kylie Morhun

Dr. Cheryl Letheren is an experienced optometrist with a wealth of knowledge to share about running a practice. She was also able to speak about what she looks for when hiring a new associate – a position we will all be in soon. Beyond the obvious traits an employer would look, Dr. Letheren stressed the importance of workplace harmony. All of us will be graduating with professional experience and clinical expertise, but what will eventually set any of us apart will be our ability to connect with a patient and with our fellow colleagues. Dr. Letheren expressed that her best employees and associates were not the ones that got the highest grades in their class, but rather the ones who were able to build long-lasting relationships and be a consistent presence in the clinic.

Her office in London, Ontario is equipped to provide full comprehensive eye exams and also includes a dispensary. Interestingly, there was a large focus on vision rehabilitation following brain injury in her clinic. In fact, her office is currently going through expansions in the building to include a dedicated area for recovery downstairs. We thoroughly enjoyed learning about the newest eye tracking system, RightEye, and how it is used to assess certain visual functions both prior to and during the recovery process. The eyes are linked to the whole body which is why Dr. Letheren believes vision training should include integrative exercises that are not just focused on the eyes. We got the chance to see how rewarding it can be to be involved in this area of optometry by reviewing some successful before and after cases. Many patients couldn’t pinpoint the source of their discomfort following head trauma, but knew that something was not 100% right. A particular patient described the feeling of constantly falling when walking. Little did they know a quick prism fix would change all of that and their outlook on life. We also gained an appreciation for inter-professional collaboration as Dr. Letheren works alongside both occupational and physical therapists. By integrating these areas of interest into a practice, it can be a fun way to break up the day from just routine exams.

Dr. Letheren also showed us that optometrists working in a clinic can maintain a healthy work-life balance. Although running a full time clinic, Dr. Letheren still places utmost priority in experiencing life and travelling in her free time, including taking her associates to conferences, or leisure-travels.

Lastly, we wanted to give a huge thank you to Dr. Letheren for sharing her enlightening experiences with us!

Matthew (3rd year), Dr. Letheren, Kylie (3rd year), Grace (1st year), Vaness (1st year)