The SUNY Optometry alumna is excited to work with the Vision Rehabilitation Service.
Call it a homecoming: This fall, Shephali Patel, OD, MS ’10 returned to her alma mater to work with the vision rehabilitation service, providing low vision and head trauma services.
“The right tools and techniques make it easier for people to function in their daily lives,” Dr. Patel says. “I enjoy low vision, head trauma and vision therapy, as these are places where I can affect overall physical and mental health, in addition to ocular health.”
It’s a mission that has guided the Lodi, New Jersey-native throughout her career, starting with clinical rotations that took her from Wenzhou Medical College in China to Lawton Indian Hospital in Oklahoma to SUNY’s own University Eye Center. After stints with several commercial optometry locations, she joined the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center in 2011. There, she provided primary eye care in a hospital setting, working with patients with ocular disease, low vision and traumatic brain injuries, and collaborating with physical therapy and audiology colleagues to rehabilitate patients with vestibular disorders. She also lectured and provided clinical instruction.
In 2013, Dr. Patel took her talents to the Lake City VA Medical Center in Florida, where she served as the director of low vision services and a staff optometrist, before moving into the associate chief of optometry position. In that role, she was the VICTORS program coordinator and developed a binocular vision and traumatic brain injury sub-clinic that operated out of the low vision clinic.
Moving back from rural Florida is a big change for Dr. Patel, and she will remember her time in the South fondly—she recently took her fourth trip to Disney World!
“In the past four and half years of working at the VA in a small town, I’ve been very lucky to become a part of a community of health care providers and have been able to absorb a lot of wisdom from many of our veterans,” she says. “It has been nice to see southern hospitality at its finest, in and out of the hospital, which is something I am really going to miss.”
Nonetheless, she is excited to return. “Being at SUNY is like coming home again,” Dr. Patel says. “While it is nice to write papers, lecture at meetings, or earn fellowships, working with externs and residents is by far the most fulfilling part of my job, and I look forward to being able to work with future generations of optometrists.”