PIKEVILLE – After more than three years of planning, the University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Optometry (KYCO) has welcomed its inaugural class of 65 students.
“The KYCO Office of Student Affairs received an impressive number of applications from qualified candidates across the country. More than 650 applications were reviewed, and nearly 150 prospective students were interviewed over a five-month period,” said Roya Attar, O.D., assistant clinical professor and director of professional relations. “The KYCO admissions committee assessed each applicant’s educational history, performance and professional background, seeking students who would advance the mission and vision of the optometry program and the university. The 38 women and 27 men accepted represent 22 states and 25 percent of the class identifies with racial and ethnic groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in optometry. The inaugural class represents a unique and diverse cross section of educational and life experiences and were selected not only based on their academic merits, but equally for their character and core values.”
The optometry program will be housed in the new Health Professions Education Building. The approximately $65 million building contains comprehensive, state-of-the-art classrooms, teaching labs and surgical suites that allow for hands-on training through virtual reality technology, simulation and standardized patient education. This “Vision of Hope” in the Appalachian Mountains features $10 million of the most advanced clinical and vision science technology in the country.
The rigorous curriculum will focus on case-based problem solving, interprofessional education and leadership development. Students gain their clinical training at Pikeville Medical Center as well as Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers located in the nearby areas.
During their orientation week, students met with all of their faculty members and advisors; became familiar with the facilities on the university campus; were welcomed by KYCO Founding Dean Andrew Buzzelli, O.D., M.S.; University President Burton Webb, Ph.D.; Provost Lori Werth, Ph.D., and University Chancellor Governor Paul Patton, as well as hearing from several other guest speakers. Numerous activities were planned for the entering students to acquaint them with the university and the local area.
Classes began in August with the first students set to earn their Doctorate of Optometry (O.D.) degrees in the spring 2020.