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Megan Patterson ‘25OD is the 2023 Toland Scholarship Winner

While doing a stint in Neuro-ophthalmic Disease Service last week, Megan Patterson ‘25OD, was approached by Bisant Labib, OD ‘14, Resident ‘15, FAAO, co-chief of Suite 3 at The Eye Institute (TEI) and associate dean of Optometric Special Programs at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus University.

Dr. Bisant wanted to know if Patterson “had received any news” that day.

megan-patterson-and-andrew-gurwood-pic1“I was completely confused about what she meant, but she seemed excited and asked me to come to Suite 3 with her,” said Patterson.

On the way to the suite, they pulled Andrew Gurwood, OD ‘89, Resident ‘90, FAAO, PCO professor, aside from a lecture he was conducting with second-year students, and the three of them, along with Nia Phillips, OD ‘23, one of the 2023-2024 PCO residents, gathered in one of the nearby cubbies.

“They told me that they've noticed how hard I work in the clinic and they had nominated me for the Toland Scholarship,” said Patterson. “At that point, I felt extremely honored to even be considered for the scholarship and was so happy that I was one of the students they felt deserved it from our suite.”

Later in the day, Patterson received an email from Maria Parisi, OD ‘85, Resident ‘86, FAAO, associate dean of Optometric Clinical Affairs at PCO/Salus, informing Patterson that she had been named the 2023 Joseph C. Toland Memorial Scholarship winner.

"Megan is dedicated, hardworking, competent, and compassionate. She combines didactic knowledge with good clinical judgment in the best interest of those she cares for,” said Dr. Parisi.

The Toland Scholarship is awarded to a worthy third-year Doctor of Optometry student (or students) who is in good academic standing and demonstrates a distinctive ability to provide competent and compassionate care to his/her patients. Dr. Toland was a beloved teacher and clinical provider who selflessly supported the mission of PCO/Salus and the optometric profession through advocacy and leadership. He graduated from the Pennsylvania State College of Optometry (PSCO) in 1954 and later studied medicine, graduating from Hahnemann Medical College in 1963. During the turf wars between optometry and ophthalmology in the early 1970s, he led the political challenge to medicine in support of expanding the scope of optometric practice to include the treatment of disease. His advocacy was central to the therapeutic profession that optometry is today.

Patterson said she was honored to be a part of Dr. Toland’s legacy at PCO/Salus. Her mindset when she is at clinic is to learn everything she can, apply the knowledge she’s gathered in class, and offer the best patient care possible.

“Winning the scholarship means so much to me. As a first-generation optometry student, and the first person in my family to attend this level of academia, sometimes it can feel like I’m at a disadvantage compared to students who have grown up with doctor parents and family members who understand how often I’m studying, the amount of effort that this degree takes, and have a certain level of comfort in a clinical setting that they have always been around,” said Patterson. “But at the same time, I feel like that has always pushed me to take my schooling to the next level and absorb as much as I can while I’m here.”

She added that being the scholarship recipient has shown her that others can see how passionate she is about patient care and becoming the best doctor that she can be.

“I can’t thank the doctors in Suite 3 enough for pushing me the right amount and expecting excellence from me,” said Patterson. “Winning has shown me that my work has not gone unnoticed and inspires me to continue the standard I have set for myself not only during my time at The Eye Institute but on externships and in my future career. I hope to be an example of the product that PCO/Salus produces as a practicing doctor.”