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Rachelle Shader "hoods" her husband, South Albany graduate Jonathan Shader, during the commencement ceremony on Friday, June 1, for the 2018 graduating class at Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific Northwest in Lebanon.

I graduated! Words cannot describe my gratitude toward Western U and the community of Lebanon, which prepared, equipped, and enabled me to pursue my dream of pursuing a career in ophthalmology.

We are so fortunate to live in America where a cataract that causes blindness can be cured with a common outpatient surgery. In some countries, however, a cataract is a permanently disabling condition, affecting as many as 52 million people worldwide, 99 percent of whom live in developing countries. On a mission trip to Nigeria in 2009, I saw individuals affected by this condition, and it has been a driving force in my life since, leading me to pursue medical school and an ophthalmology residency.

It wouldn’t have been possible without this community and the great people in it, such as Jim and Heather McDaniels, the Girod Family, John and Carol Dinges, and so many others that have supported me every step of the way!

So what are the brand new doctors of the Western U class of 2018 up to next? After completing four years of medical school, the next step is a one-year medical internship, followed by residency training (ranging from 3-6 years) and then a potential fellowship training, ranging from 1-3 years.

I, for example, am fortunate in that I will be completing my one-year transitional internship at Kaweah Delta Medical Center, in Visalia, California, before moving to Georgia for my ophthalmology residency at Augusta University/ Medical College of Georgia. After residency, I plan on pursuing a one-year fellowship training program in the cornea and anterior segment, perfecting LASIK, learning new refractive surgeries, and being trained to perform corneal transplants.

I am amazed at how successful my classmates have been in the “match” as well! The match is the post medical school job application process. A medical residency is part school and part first-time job as a physician. Other students from Western U matched into Pain Management and Rehabilitation programs at the Mayo clinic in Minnesota, internal medicine in Washington, surgery in Michigan, and family medicine training in Wyoming, just to give a few examples. We also had classmates match into radiology, anesthesiology, psychiatric, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, and orthopedic surgery.

As Dr. Paula Crone constantly reminds us, “At the end of the day, it is all about the patient.” Overall, this journey for me has been all about the amazing people that I have had the privilege of working for, working with, learning from, teaching, and the patients that I have had the opportunity to serve.

Thank you to the Lebanon Express and to everyone who has read and commented on my column over these years. Thank you also to my wife, Rachelle, and my parents John and Patti Shader for all your support. I will continue to be an ambassador for the community of Lebanon and Western U, and our great osteopathic profession, which emphasizes compassion and holistic patient care. Thank you for your support and belief in me, and by the grace of God, I will use my training to accomplish the great privilege of helping to restore sight to the blind, here in America, and to the ends of the earth.


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