While most days working in an optometric practice probably wouldn’t inspire ECPs to start reciting poetry, for one optometric student it was his motivation for writing it instead.
For Jonathan Jacesko, currently a fourth year OD student at Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus University, writing humorous poetry was something he's been doing for a long time. Following 10 years as a naval flight officer and graduating from the University of Maine with a master's in English, Jacesko decided to enter optometry school as he wanted a career that would allow him to help people.
"I really enjoy that one-on-one interaction with patients," he explained. He also enjoyed knowing at the end of the day he's helped someone, "even if it’s just getting a prescription written to improve their vision a little bit or more serious things like diagnosing life-threatening diseases and conditions," he added.
Although he had stopped writing humorous poetry for a while, he was given the opportunity to pick it up again during a blizzard in his first year at PCO, which resulted in the school being closed for a week. During that time, Jacesko wrote a poem called "The Blizzard That Ate PCO."
"I posted it on the Facebook page for our class to get some laughs out of my friends," he said. "A lot of people thought it was great and a few people, even then, said hey, you should put out a book of these."
However, it wasn't until his second year as an optometry student that he realized he might be on to something. For PCO's talent show he read a poem he had written called "Where Do All the No-Shows Go" and won first place. "That public acceptance was a big impetus to create a book," he said.
Write It Up
“How to Refract an Insomniac” – Illustrated by Shane Stevens, New England College of Optometry (NECO), Class of 2018
Over the next two years, Jacesko continued to write more poems. "Having a lot more experiences with patients and learning a lot more about optometry in general, I was inspired to write more of these poems that are specific to the eye care crowd," he said.
All of this has led up to Jacesko ultimately putting all his poetry into a book called Optopoetry — billed as a book of poems and drawings for the eye care crowd, with poems inspired by Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss.
According to Jacesko, the book includes common themes and language of the business that regardless of what type of eye care practice you are in, ties everyone together. For instance, Jacesko believes the problem of "no-shows" is something all modes of healthcare deal with. And he also received some poem ideas — such as one about patients that take a long time with their refraction — from optometrists.
In addition to his poetry, Jacesko wanted to have some illustrations to accompany the poems. To source his illustrations, he drew upon the optometry student talent pool from schools nationwide, putting out a call for optometry student artist volunteers through Facebook. That resulted in six optometric students — Cheryl Duong (SCCO '18), Jenny Krech (PCO '17), Leanne Laporte (PCO '17), Alice Lim (PCO '18), Shane Stevens (NECO '18), and Brad Urlik (WUCO '19) — providing drawings for the book.
And for patients who might read the book, Jacesko is including a patient education endnote to help explain certain terms in the poems. “If someone really want to do a deeper dive into it, this could certainly educate them a lot,” he added.
Turn The Page
"Color Vision" is one of the many poems to be featured in Optopoetry.
Now with Optopoetry almost complete, Jacesko has been working to spread the word about his project and raise funds to help print the book. He is almost at the end of a fundraising campaign on IndieGoGo, through which to date he has exceeded his funding goal. A $20 pledge will get you a copy of Optopoetry, while a $30 pledge gets backers a copy of the book, a secret poem and a special limited-edition Golden Occluder donated by Gulden Ophthalmics.
Once the fundraising campaign has ended, Jacesko will also be selling copies of the book on Optopoetry.com. Right now, he plans to print the book in November so it ships in time for the holidays.
In addition to raising money for printing the book, Jacesko also has a three charitable causes he plans to donate funds from sale of the book to.
All in all, for Jacesko writing and publishing Optopoetry is really just to make people laugh. "There’s some frustrations in optometry, just as there is in any profession, so the book pokes fun at the quirks and foibles of the profession," he said. “Really (it's) just an outlet to chuckle at how things are."
For more information about Optopoetry, visit Optopoetry.com or contact Jonathan Jacesko at [email protected].