Terry Stines turned 70 on July 11 of this year and a week later had his first day “back to school.” The longtime North Central Phoenix resident is studying to be an ophthalmic assistant at the Maricopa Skills Center, on the campus of Gateway Community College.
Stines is no stranger to tackling something new. He has had a variety of vocations but most recently spent time fixing up antique automobiles. The reason behind his return to education started with a mission trip organized by his church last year.
Stines decided to join a mission team of Bethany Bible Church, 6060 N. 7th Ave., that was readying for a trip to Guatemala. The team consisted of two doctors, a nurse, a nursing student, a fireman/EMT, and Stines. In Guatemala, they were joined by a dentist.
The team treated many locals, especially administering medicine for worms, pre-natal care, treating injuries and infections and pulling lots of teeth. Stines was the main “pill counter” in the temporary pharmacy.
The team had taken many pairs of glasses with them but did not end up distributing any because there was no one to match up glasses and people. That’s why Stines decided to go back to school. If he could acquire the skills of an ophthalmic tech, he could distribute glasses on upcoming mission trips. He would be able to evaluate a person’s vision and get them the correct glasses.
The 702-hour program includes instruction in taking patient histories, basic eye testing and measuring, administering directed treatments and topical medications, diagnostic test procedures and equipment operation, anatomical and functional ocular measurements, and more.
Stines hopes to have his certification completed by late spring 2017. But that only gets him partway to his goal. He will also need the proper equipment to bring to Guatemala to conduct eye exams to properly match glasses to clients. The item should be portable enough for the trip to Guatemala. Local ophthalmologists or other medical professionals who have an older piece of equipment they are willing to donate should contact Stines at email@example.com.