Seeing is believing: Discovering the eye world as an Optometric Technician
Originally from Romania, Andreea Bauknecht moved to the United States after receiving her bachelor’s degree in business administration and started working for an optical chain. It wasn’t long before Andreea realized her tasks were limited due to her knowledge and experience in the optical industry. That’s when a coworker opened her eyes to the Optometric Technician program at Madison College.
We sat down with Andreea to learn more about her experience and where her degree has taken her.
Madison College: What interested you about the Optometric Technician program?
Andreea Bauknecht: There was only so much I could be taught as far as screening tasks for the optometrist. I wanted to be more involved and have more background knowledge in the field. When one of my coworkers who graduated from the Madison College Optometric Technician program told me about it, I applied immediately.
I had heard such wonderful things about the program; it has a great reputation in the field. I loved that we were taught so many hands-on tasks and get to participate in clinicals giving us real-world experience.
I initially wanted to do the program online since I was working full time and was in charge of the retail portion of the business. I reached out to the program director, Ann Hayden-Finger, for more information. She truly believed I could do the program face-to-face and full time based on what I was hoping to get out of it.
MC: What was your experience in the program?
AB: The moment classes started, I knew I made the right choice. I loved the curriculum. It taught things I saw in the field on a daily basis and the instructors were simply amazing. Their passion for the field and for their students was unparalleled; students in my classes wanted to do their best every day to make the instructors proud.
Madison College Optometric Technician program provides real-world lab settings and hands-on experience.
MC: What was your favorite part of the program?
AB: I fell in the love with human eye anatomy, so anything that touched on that was something I loved learning about. Our anatomy instructor, Angie Gray, was simply amazing and made learning easy.
We were also allowed to sit for a couple of certification exams that would have taken years to obtain had we not graduated from the program; that was a great benefit.
MC: What was your experience as a Madison College student?
AB: I enjoyed my time as a student. The Health Building has state-of-the-art labs. I had everything I needed to learn how the real optometric world works.
MC: Tell us about what you do in your position.
AB: I work full time for the Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin. This is the only Eye Bank in the state and it provides ocular tissue for mostly all eye transplants in Wisconsin — we recover, process and distribute human eye tissue. I secured a position here while still in school simply because my employers knew what the program teaches and had great experience with past graduates. I started as an eye recovery/lab technician, then was trained in distribution, donor eligibility, and became a medical director designee. I am currently the supervisor for the Quality Services department and still act as a medical director designee.
Meanwhile, a lab assistant position became available with the Optometric Technician program and I had the opportunity to join the team as support staff. I have been working part time for the program since 2015 and love everything I get to do.
MC: Anything else you want to add?
AB: I am incredibly thankful Ann convinced me to take the program face-to-face because it opened so many doors for me, and strengthened my love of the field. I wouldn’t have had the professional opportunities that were offered to me had it not been for the program. I get to do what I love every single day and make a difference in people’s lives. That is not something I had the opportunity to do before I came across this program.