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Female DOs Aren’t What You Saw in That FIGS Ad — Just Ask Dr. Allison Jarstad, DO Ophthalmologist

Nov 20, 2020 | Eye Health | 0 comments

When Allison Jarstad was finishing up medical school and began interviews for her ophthalmology residency, she heard something multiple times that’s stuck with her over the last few years.

“You’re the only doctor of osteopathic medicine we’ve ever interviewed!”

“You’re the first DO we’ve brought in.”

A doctor of osteopathic medicine, or DO, is a fully trained and licensed doctor who attends an osteopathic medical school, which focuses on a more holistic approach to medicine. Training includes the standard western medicine curriculum, but it also exposes students to alternative therapies and emphasizes disease prevention. A medical doctor, or MD, attends a conventional medical school. No matter the comparison, both are fully licensed, capable physicians who practice medicine in all areas of healthcare. 

So when Allison Jarstad, DO ophthalmologist, saw the recent ad by scrubs company FIGS essentially disparage female DOs as less-than their MD counterparts, she was disappointed.

“It’s unbelievable that the ad even made it to publication,” Dr. Jarstad said. “I just don’t see how that concept and idea made it to production without anyone ever raising their hand and questioning, ‘maybe this isn’t a good idea?’”

She noted that DOs go through just as rigorous of training as in a conventional medical school.

“In fact, we take more classes than typical medical students. A lot of my DO peers have taken positions at academic institutions as researchers, scientists, educators,” Dr. Jarstad said. “We are contributing significantly to the field of medicine.”

Dr. Jarstad said her medical training allows her to think about the “whole person” when treating her patients. Part of Nanodropper’s mission is to educate people about proper eye health. Understanding the link between eye health and our overall health is key to learning just how vital taking care of your eyes truly is.

“There’s of course the physical component of what I do, but I also look at the whole person when I’m treating a patient. I really appreciate that aspect of how I was trained to approach medicine,” Dr. Jarstad said.

Dr. Jarstad, now a practicing ophthalmologist for SoCal Eye in Southern California, says the stereotypes she heard as a medical student and leading up to her residency faded away as she entered the workforce.

“I’m an ophthalmologist who has trained at exceptional institutions with world-renowned leaders, both female and male, in the field of ophthalmology. I’m respected by my colleagues and my patients and am proud to be providing the highest level of eyecare to my community in Long Beach and Southern California,” she said.

Dr. Jarstad graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in mathematics, and then received her medical degree in 2013 from Pacific Northwest University. She was a member of the Sigma Sigma Phi Honors Society and was also honored as Student Doctor of the Year. Dr. Jarstad completed her ophthalmology training at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY, followed by a fellowship in cornea, external disease, and refractive surgery at the University of California, Irvine. She trained  in a variety of eye surgeries, including LASIK, PRK, corneal cross linking, cornea transplant surgery, pterygium excision, ocular surface tumors, iris repair, intraocular lens surgeries, and femtosecond laser cataract surgery.

Following her surgical training, Dr. Jarstad went to Stanford University and trained with one of her idols in ophthalmology, Dr. Geoff Tabin, where she was clinical faculty and completed a second fellowship in global ophthalmology. She spent the majority of the time teaching in Africa and Asia while volunteering with www.CureBlindness.org, formerly the Himalayan Cataract Project. Her experiences have taken her all over the world to teach other doctors and take care of patients. 

Dr. Jarstad is living proof that no matter the degree, if you have a DO or an MD, you can make an incredible impact, and the peers who truly matter will not think anything less of you.

“Not only am I building a reputation as an outstanding cornea, cataract, refractive and anterior segment surgeon, but I also participate in clinical trials and teach cataract and cornea transplant surgery throughout the world. If this doesn’t cause the medical community to stop and question the negative female DO stereotype, I’m not sure what will.”

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