Lidkea Optometry has earned itself a reputable status over the years among students completing their Primary Care clinical rotation as a highly-touted clinic where they can gain an abundance of practical knowledge.
Receiving an external placement at Lidkea Optometry has become highly sought-after not only for the extensive range of ocular disease students will experience first-hand but also for the wonders that Fort Frances and northwestern Ontario have to offer.
Dr. Bruce Lidkea said he first started taking on students in 2004.
When then-student Dr. David Bond, who now has a practice in Barrie, Ont. but grew up Fort Frances, asked Dr. Lidkea if he was open to the idea of allowing students to practice at his clinic and complete their external placement.
Dr. Lidkea explained his clinic has grown from a primary care rotation back in 2004 to ocular disease and more complex cases.
His students have said the exposure to specialized optometry added to the appeal for choosing his clinic during their external rotation.
Lidkea Optometry's most recent student, Stepan Jaworsky, recalled a few specific moments which stood out for him during his rotation from May 1 until his departure on Aug 9.
“I had countless first impressions and many moments that stood out at the office, but my most memorable experience at Lidkea Optometry was probably observing a very serious eye infection the kind that some optometrists do not even see in their whole careers,” said Jaworsky.
“It was shocking and definitely sticks in my memory,” he added.
He added he gained a lot of knowledge from Dr. Lidkea's father, Robert, and it was a meaningful experience.
“I was able to learn quite a bit from the old Dr. Lidkea as well. Just being able to work with one of the oldest optometrists in Canada was another big thing—it meant quite a bit,” said Jaworsky.
Jaworsky spoke about his transition from working and living in Waterloo, Ont. and how the support from Bruce and the community helped put him at ease.
Being of Ukrainian descent, Jaworsky said the help from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its members helped him adjust to the small-town life.
“In advance, I found out there is a Ukrainian Orthodox Church not too far away,” he noted.
“So, I right away jumped on that and attended the first liturgy and attended every liturgy through my stay here and was able to help them out quite a bit with the choir, because I sing myself and I direct the choir back in Waterloo so that was really nice.”
He also mentioned a story about a fishing trip with Mike and Christina Taschuk, along with Stan and Elma Wepruk.
“Mike and Christina invited me earlier for an outing on their pontoon on Rainy Lake which was also very awing and memorable,” said Jaworsky.
“A definite memorable specific moment for me was watching Mike fillet and clean the eight or so walleye that we had caught during that first fishing trip. Those fish were all completely filleted by him probably in under five minutes,” he marvelled.
During his time at Lidkea Optometry, Jaworsky emphasized how he has become more efficient in his practice and how his confidence has grown—an observation also made by Dr. Lidkea.
“At first, it is a little bit a challenge to increase that efficiency but then it kind of plateaus and you just start to feel more comfortable with everything,” stated Jaworsky.
Dr. Lidkea said from the moment when he first started taking on students, he found a lot of enjoyment out of the process.
“I found that it was great working with students. During the student-mentor interaction, I learn just as much as they do.”
“I get the opportunity to learn from the students the newest techniques and the newest theories,” added Bruce.
Dr. Lidkea added he sees this placement as a time for students finishing up their schooling to grow into a professional.
“I like to think of this as a transition. A great place to transition from student to doctor.”
He also mentioned he got a lot of fulfillment watching Stepan's confidence develop and change during his time at the office.
“The level of confidence that you have gained here is impressive," stated Bruce. "You're a whole different guy now.”
“It's been very positive, that's for sure. That's an understatement,” said Jaworsky about his time at the clinic and Fort Frances.
As of Aug. 26, Dr. Lidkea will be welcoming his new student, Alice Chen, and both are looking forward to the next chapter.
He hopes to prepare and accommodate Chen with her transition as she will have more interaction and be busier with patients.
Chen said she had learned a lot by reading and hearing from previous students how enjoyable their experience was in Fort Frances.
She added she is looking forward to experience helping patients suffering from different ocular diseases and getting to explore the area.
“I've never been that far up north before and I think there is going to be a lot of beautiful places to explore,” she remarked.
“I am very excited to meet everyone there.”