How COVID Helped Me Refocus My Medical Career and Find Purpose

By Dr. Rocío C. Pasión ’93

Dr. Rocío C. Pasión ’93

COVID has been hard, but my professional life has changed positively because of it. In August 2020, I had spent my entire professional life (22 years) at the same ophthalmology practice. I was underappreciated and hiding somewhere between thinking about the things I wanted to do and actually doing them. I looked forward to retirement, seeing myself volunteering for an underserved community—specifically using my skills within the Latino/Hispanic population.

My hunch is that fear was holding me back, and I was adept at dressing that fear up in disguises. COVID was an opportunity and an excuse that allowed me to face my fear. COVID was not a hang-up, it was a step to get me closer to my professional finish line. I turned in my resignation and faced the end of my 22-year tenure at the old practice. Within 48 hours I had a Zoom meeting and a job offer.

My new position at Siepser Eyecare refractive laser center refocused my subspecialty in glaucoma management, ocular surface disease, refractive surgery, and pre-/post-operative management. And, most importantly, my voice in the new practice mattered.

Under the new practice president/owner’s tutelage, I procured funds for ophthalmic equipment for Community Volunteers in Medicine in West Chester, Penn. The local migrant/underserved community can now access—with dignity—eye exams and medical and surgical treatments.

I was encouraged by the new practice when a primary care position at Nemours Children’s Hospital was offered to me. I now hold a position at a private practice in Pennsylvania, and I see close to 80 children per week at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Wilmington, Del.

At Nemours, I speak Spanish about 30 percent of the time and spend my days educating parents about their children’s systemic health, diagnoses, and ocular health. I have also joined the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative to become involved in health equity for minorities (almost all ocular normative data is based on a Caucasian population).

Coming from Central Falls, R.I., I was one of the kids living in an underserved community. I was uplifted as an undergraduate student by my Talent Development family at URI: Sharon and Frank Forleo and Mr. D. (may he rest in peace).

It is the cumulative effort of professors, advisors, and professionals that restructured my life’s purpose. COVID is still here, and I am still adapting. I am doing everything differently now and, thankfully, have reallocated my life’s purpose.

Rocío C. Pasión, O.D., is a board-certified optometrist specializing in primary care, amblyopia/myopia retention, and specialty contact lens fitting. She graduated from URI with a B.A. in biology and Spanish, and then attended the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University, where she obtained her B.S. in visual science and her O.D. degree.

Photo courtesy Rocío C. Pasíon

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