Explore UAB

by Nathan Anderson

Terri Call, OD, is the state’s 2023 Optometric Educator of the Year. The American Optometric Association (ALOA) granted the associate professor this honor. 

Call earned her Doctor of Optometry degree from the UAB School of Optometry in 2015. She joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 2016 after her residency in Geriatric and Low Vision Rehabilitative Optometry at the Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center.    

During Call’s residency, Caroline Pate, OD, FAAO, and UAB Optometry’s director of residency programs, noticed her ability to teach. When a faculty position opened at the School of Optometry, Pate suggested Call apply. 

“I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Call weekly during her residency in our residency conference didactic seminar series, and I noticed her talent for public speaking and conveying information effectively,” Pate said. “She was a natural teacher. As she was getting closer to the end of her residency, I suggested she consider a career in academia and mentioned how I thought she’d be a great fit. Fast forward to today, and we are lucky to have her on faculty at UABSO.”

At the School, Call is the Primary Care Clinic director and instructor for the Injections and Minor Surgical Procedures (IMSP) and Clinical Evaluation of the Visual System (CEVS) courses. CEVS is often the first time students engage with a phoropter or look at an eye under the microscope.

“I try to instill good foundational skills so they can be sure they’re ready to go into clinic,” she said. “This is the most important aspect of that course to me. I remind students that the material's purpose is to help people, not just to get them a good grade.”

Call explains that helping students transition into professionals is often the most rewarding aspect of being an educator.  

“Every year at graduation, I watch students walk across the stage and remember how excited they were the first time they caught a tricky disease or nailed a tough refraction,” she said. “Seeing those students transition from their first optometric steps into fully practicing optometrists who will be credits to the profession for the next thirty years is a tremendous honor.”

Her kind but firm teaching style and leadership of the CEVS team is appreciated by students and faculty alike. Each year, the graduating class chooses a faculty member to carry the ceremonial mace during graduation. Call has been selected to carry the mace during convocation in 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023.  

Call hopes that students will maintain a desire to learn and grow as professionals after graduating from School. 

“My best hope is that the students I teach leave my classes and clinics with the desire to keep learning for the rest of their lives,” she said. “I don’t think I could ask for more than that.”