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Ophthalmic Medical Technology with a French twist

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Rachid Alilat was born in France. He graduated from high school in Morocco. He has been all over the world and has traveled all over the United States. Soon, he’ll graduate from Portland Community College.

Alilat is a second-year student in the Ophthalmic Medical Technology program at the Cascade Campus. He first came to the United States five years ago. After finding employment in the hotel industry, he decided to find a career by starting on his associate’s degree at PCC.

“PCC was my first experience with education in the U.S.,” Alilat said. “It was a perfect choice, really affordable and I like the proximity of the campus. It’s closer to my home and I can drive down to Albina Street to get a coffee. The great thing about Cascade is that you can chill and relax.

“I’ve been all over the place,” he added. “I’ve tried to keep a global perspective. I grew up in Normandy, which is much like Portland. Culturally, I like the progressive aspect of Portland. It has a European vibe to it. I’ve been all over the U.S., but Portland is different. There are a lot of interesting places to go.”

After a few years working on his degree, Alilat discovered the Ophthalmic Medical Technology program. The program trains students to be an ophthalmic medical technician, which works under the direction and supervision of a licensed physician who specializes in ophthalmology.

“I was attracted to the many opportunities in the field,” Alilat said.

An ophthalmic medical technician’s responsibilities include taking medical histories, performing diagnostic tests, administering medications, instructing patients, assisting in surgery and the fitting of contact lenses, and more. The PCC program is designed to develop the students’ skills in a variety of areas, which means there are plenty of sub-fields to go into.

There is also a promising employment outlook. A survey conducted by PCC indicates that demand for ophthalmic technicians is significant and will continue to be so in the future. Alilat enjoyed a view of his future in the practicum where he put his skills to the test by working 16 hours a week at a local health center.

“We get to work with the aging population a lot to check for eye diseases,” he said. “It shows me how to give the right care to a real patient. To help preserve vision is an amazing thing.”

It’s part of his enthusiasm for the field. Someday he hopes to make a difference on a grander scale.

“There is a lot of self satisfaction and lots of room to grow in this program,” Alilat said. “Some day I’d like to help make health care affordable and accessible to everyone.”

For more information about the program, visit the OMT program web site .

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »