Ophthalmic Medical Technology Program is helping students shape their future careers
Photos and Story by James Hill
Portland Community College student Vladislav Kirilov has embarked on an inspiring educational journey that is deeply rooted in personal experience and a passion to make a difference in the world of ophthalmology.
About five years ago, Kirilov immigrated from Ust, Kazakhstan to New York to play collegiate basketball when the pandemic hit, forcing him to move across the country. A native Russian speaker, Kirilov had to adjust to a new country as well as learn English. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Kirilov began his studies at PCC by attending online classes. Over the past three years, he completed his ESOL requirements and worked on prerequisites to join the Ophthalmic Medical Technology (OMT) Program. Currently residing in Southeast Portland, he brings a unique perspective to the program.
“Stepping into the ophthalmology clinic of my dreams feels like entering a world of endless possibilities,” said Kirilov. “Here, a rich tapestry of specialties, including cataract, glaucoma, LASIK, and retina, converge to provide holistic eye care. As an aspiring ophthalmic technician, I envision myself playing an invaluable role in this dynamic environment.”
He possesses lifeguard and first aid certificates acquired through specialized courses at PCC in 2021. These certifications underscore his commitment to learning and helping others.
Growing Opportunities in Ophthalmic Medical Technology
Are you considering a career change or looking for a rewarding path in healthcare? The Oregon Employment Department forecasts a promising future for ophthalmic medical technicians in the Portland area, with job openings expected to surge by 20% through 2027.
PCC’s Ophthalmic Medical Technology Program offers a unique opportunity to enter this thriving field. Graduates of the program report an average starting range of $24 to $26 per hour, with experienced technicians earning up to $36 per hour.
What sets PCC’s OMT program apart? With a small cohort of 24-28 students, hands-on training in a specialized lab, and clinical practicums with more than 40 community partners, you’ll gain valuable experience under the supervision of licensed physicians. This program is the only one of its kind on the West Coast at the intermediate training technician level, accredited by the International Council of Accreditation (ICA).
Kirilov’s decision to pursue the OMT program at PCC is rooted in his personal journey. As a child, he navigated the world with impaired vision. His early exposure to compassionate ophthalmologists and ophthalmic technicians inspired him to become a beacon of support for others facing visual challenges. By joining the program, Kirilov hopes to empower individuals with the same care and support that transformed his life.
“These individuals were my heroes, guiding me toward a clearer future,” he said. “Now, I am inspired to follow in their footsteps, aspiring to become a hero for others facing visual challenges. By pursuing this program, I hope to empower individuals with the same care and support that once transformed my life.”
In his eyes, entering the world of ophthalmology gives him options. He envisions himself as an invaluable member of a dynamic team, contributing to accurate diagnoses and providing crucial support during surgeries. His ultimate goal is to be a guiding light for others, just as the ophthalmic professionals were for him.
Kirilov is grateful for the support he received from PCC during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly through emergency grants and food pantries. These resources were a lifeline that helped him navigate school during the pandemic, reminding him of the importance of community and support in times of need.
“The support I received from PCC through emergency grants during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic truly touched my heart,” Kirilov said. “As a student, navigating through the uncertainties posed by the pandemic was overwhelming, and these grants were a lifeline that helped me stay afloat.
“The college’s food pantries, in particular, were a beacon of hope,” he added. “The basic sustenance they provided went beyond nourishment; it was a symbol of solidarity and care during a time of unprecedented struggle. These initiatives have left an indelible mark on me, igniting a profound sense of gratitude and reminding me of the importance of community and support in times of need.”
Thanks to that support, Kirilov continues on in receiving comprehensive knowledge across various ophthalmic fields and hands-on experiences to cultivate practical skills and a profound sense of responsibility. From conducting intricate tests that aid in accurate diagnoses to providing crucial support during surgeries, he sees himself contributing to and enhancing patient experiences.
“By choosing PCC, students open doors to a fulfilling career path where they can serve as essential contributors to enhancing and preserving individuals’ precious gift of sight,” he said.
Vladislav Kirilov’s journey from impaired vision to aspiring ophthalmic technician is a testament to the effect of personal experience and the unwavering commitment to make a positive impact on the lives of others.
“I witnessed the impact ophthalmic professionals had on my life and I’m eager to be part of a team that changes lives through vision care,” he said. “The thought of being that guiding light for someone else, just as those professionals were for me, fuels my passion for pursuing this path.”