Navy selects alumnus for top optometry award

The Navy selects UMSL alumnus Lt. Kyle Dohm (OD 2006) to receive the 2010 Stanley H. Freed Junior Optometrist of the Year Award.

Pilots need to see to fly. When military pilots and aircrew stationed in Japan have vision problems, they see Lt. Kyle Dohm. The naval officer and University of Missouri–St. Louis alumnus (OD 2006) is the only aerospace optometrist on mainland Japan. Now he’s also an award winner.

Dr. Dohm was selected last month to receive the 2010 Stanley H. Freed Junior Optometrist of the Year Award.

In a letter to Dohm, Rear Adm. Eleanor Valentin, the Navy’s Medical Service Corps director, said, “This award recognizes the professional who exhibits the highest Navy core values, professionalism, initiative, leadership and dedication to the practice of optometry.”

Based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Dohm maintains a large practice at Branch Health Clinic Atsugi, one of seven U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka clinics. He also routinely travels to the other branch health clinics to provide care.

According to Dohm’s award nomination, he has been an exceptional optometrist and naval officer since receiving his commission in 2006. He has written several professional articles and routinely lectures on aeromedicine with a focus on ophthalmology and optometry matters. He also restructured multiple clinical processes resulting in greater efficiency and service, used new technology to increase patients’ access to optometry care, increased specialty services and maintained a 98 percent patient satisfaction rating.

Capt. Mike Warrington, BHC Atsugi officer in charge, said Dohm’s achievements and efforts are unmatched.

“Lt. Dohm is an exceptional doctor and naval officer,” Warrington said. “This award could not have gone to a more deserving person.”

A native of Sharon, Kan., Dohm followed his degree from UMSL by graduating from the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute in Pensacola, Fla. In doing so, he became only the 21st naval aerospace optometrist since the program’s inception in 1989.

Aerospace optometrists undergo aeronautical and aeromedical training to develop additional capabilities that set them apart from conventional optometrists. According to the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute, they become knowledgeable about various military aircraft; life-saving equipment like ejection seats and breathing devices; aviation physicals and administration processes; and potential problems that can occur in flight, especially those that deal with the eyes and vision. They also serve as experts on all ocular- and vision-related aviation matters and must meet the demand for eye care whenever and wherever it is needed, including aboard U.S. naval ships.

In addition, Dohm and his fellow aerospace optometrists must integrate into aviation culture by being familiar with aviation language, the stressors of flight, training, scheduling and deployments.

Dr. Larry Davis, dean of the College of Optometry at UMSL, said everyone at the college was pleased Dohm continues to be recognized for his outstanding service as an optometrist and naval officer.

“We are proud of Dr. Dohm’s professional accomplishments as a respected optometrist and essential member of the naval health care team,” Davis said. “His accomplishments serve as an inspiration to current and future students.”

Humbled by his selection for the award, Dohm deferred credit to the medical and optometry team who join him in caring for families and keeping service members operationally ready.

“Atsugi Clinic has a great team, and I’m proud that we are being recognized with this award,” he said. “It’s truly an honor.”

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