The Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians has named Yvon Farmer, of the Mannford Vision Clinic, 2019 Paraoptometric of the Year. Paraoptometrics are health professionals who assist optometric physicians in providing health care to patients. The annual award goes to a paraoptometric who displays outstanding professional leadership and service to patients.
As a native of Stillwater, Yvon worked in home health for over 20 years, and then spent time working in other industries before deciding it was time to return to the medical field. Upon making that life-changing decision, Yvon earned her Medical Assistant degree through Central Tech, Drumright, in 2012 and became a licensed phlebotomist. She performed her clinicals at Mannford Vision Clinic where she was offered a full-time job before she graduated. Yvon has now worked at the Mannford Vision Clinic for six years as a technician and compliance officer.
Yvon was also her grandmother’s caretaker and felt she wanted to provide that same type of love and care to others. “I want to take care of people and treat them all like they were my grandparents,” she said, adding that this is how she views every patient she cares for. “It’s a rewarding career,” she said. “Every day there is something new. You have your normal patients and maybe an emergency where you have the opportunity to sooth someone’s anxiety or calm them down.”
She also volunteers with Dr. Barbara Murphy at the Tulsa Day Center for the homeless, and volunteers with Special Olympics Lions Club International Opening Eyes program. Working at the homeless shelter has taught Yvon that homeless people cannot be stereotyped. She believes many people with addictions or mental health issues have nowhere to turn and cannot help themselves. The ability to survive is a heavy enough load. “Don’t judge the book by its cover or even the preface and table of contents,” she said. “That doesn’t give you the whole story or tell you how the book will end.” Her work at the shelter is 100-percent volunteer and she receives no compensation for it. Yvon said the look on a patients’ face after having their vision restored is reward enough.
With the goal of improving lives for others, Yvon enjoys serving as an advisory committee member for Central Tech and as a judge for Health Occupations Education Student Organization (HOSA) contests. When speaking to students, she encourages them to focus not only on progressing in their current area of study, but to also consider where their future career path can take them. She relates that half the time she barely had enough gas money to get to school, but she did not give up and is reaping the reward for her determination.
Yvon also shared that returning to a learning environment as an adult was accompanied by anxiety and insecurities that were hard to overcome. Persistence despite her fears resulted in good grades and a deep appreciation for the education she was investing in out of her own pocket.
Yvon completed Medical Assisting with honors as part of the National Technical Honor Society and was also involved in the HOSA. “Central Tech gave me the opportunity to better myself in my career,” she said. “Tech was a vital part of giving me the tools I needed to succeed. My instructor, Mrs. Silkwood was able to teach what is like to work in the industry because or her experience in the field. Tech offered me a shorter time to a career and the ability to reach my goals. Remember… you can do it, and you’re not alone. Through class and HOSA you make many friends and contacts that support you through school and beyond.”