Dr. Meagan Lincoln graduated from the Nova Southeastern University in May and is back in her hometown of Kotzebue, Alaska to open up an eye clinic for Maniilaq Association. While it wasn’t the easiest trail to blaze, Dr. Lincoln admits that it was worth it and she couldn’t have done it without the encouragement from her family, friends, and community. She also wants to recognize the local organizations for the financial support: Maniilaq, NANA, Northwest Arctic Borough, Kotzebue IRA, KIC, and Teck Cominco.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, she knew that she wanted to continue her education but wasn’t sure what for. So, she went to the student counselor’s office and took different personality tests with the hopes of finding out what the best career choice would be. However, it didn’t help because her personality falls in the middle of most measures. Dr. Lincoln then moved on to look at the bureau of labor statistics webpage which has information on every job, career, outlook, etc. She found that optometry had everything she was looking for in a career.
Dr. Lincoln went back to take undergraduate pre- requisites at the University of Hawaii Hilo, which took three years to complete. It mainly took so long because of the long chemistry course sequence from pre- general and general chemistry through organic and bio- chemistry. The pre-general course was required since chemistry was not offered to her at Kotzebue High School. Finally, after receiving her bachelor’s degree and spending another three years finishing pre- requisites, she got accepted into the doctor of optometry program which would then take her another four years.
“One thing that was discouraging for me at the time I was considering becoming an optometrist was how much longer I had to go to school.” She says, “I would say to not let that be discouraging, time really does fly and it’s worth it in the end.” Dr. Lincoln also notes that it’s important to learn time efficient study skills in undergraduate school because it is not easy adjusting your study habits on the spot when you get to graduate school.
"There were times when I ordered groceries on Amazon to be delivered to my door thinking it would save me time in the day, you know.”
While in school at Hilo, Dr. Lincoln shadowed and worked as an optometric technician for two optometrists in private practice which helped her during the first few years of optometry school. The doctor of optometry program also required a mini Master’s of Business Administration that teaches students the basics of practice management.
Through a student club, she was able to participate in a mission trip to Peru during her first year of optometry school. They gave eye exams to 1300 people in 3-4 days. She also consulted with her mentors a lot through the past few years because she knew her plan was to return home to open the eye clinic.
Dr. Lincoln will provide full optometric services from glasses and contact lenses prescriptions to the treatment of ocular disease. She will be doing some village travel, but she will not be able to cover all the villages on her own.
“It’s important to have annual eye exams with dilation to assess the ocular health, not just the glasses prescription.” Dr. Lincoln states. “Some of the most blinding diseases are sneaky in that the patient will be asymptomatic until significant vision loss has occurred as the brain may fill in missing areas of vision in early stages.”
Dr. Lincoln is spending the summer preparing the eye clinic to be ready for business in August.
“Other than that, not much elese besides enjoying my time at home.” She says. “I missed the peaceful, simple way of life up here. It’s good to see everyone. Good to be home.”