In early 2016, Vandhana Sharda, OD, MSc, FAAO, took on the role of chief of optometry for Atrius Health, a role that allows her to work with 28 optometrists at 16 Atrius Health practice sites across eastern Massachusetts, as well as the ophthalmologists and other clinical departments that have a connection to the visual system. “I’m a big fan of a multidisciplinary medical group like Atrius Health and being able to participate in patient-centered care, easily communicating with other specialties and having ready access to the patient’s medical information,” Dr. Sharda says. “Being able to coordinate care with so many specialties under one roof is more effective and thorough care for the patient.”
After receiving her degree from New England College of Optometry (NECO) in 2003 and completing a residency at Dimock Community Health Center nearby in Boston, Dr. Sharda returned to NECO to start her career in academia. There, her experiences gave her a glimpse of many specialty areas from contact lenses to low vision, pediatrics and glaucoma. Dr. Sharda’s time in an underserved neighborhood left a memorable impression, piquing an interest in community health. “The patients were very appreciative, and the cases were challenging,” she says. “I liked how multifaceted it was and how it allowed me to use optometry in the broadest perspective.”
After a decade with NECO, Dr. Sharda made a career move in 2013 to serve as chief of optometry at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in Massachusetts. When Harvard Vanguard and two other medical groups joined to form Atrius Health in 2015, Dr. Sharda stayed on board and was ultimately named to her current role. She oversees the optometry department and the contact lens and optical services and has helped expand these services during her time there.
As chief of optometry for Atrius Health, Dr. Sharda continues to hone her clinical skills working with patients three days a week and working on administrative matters for the remainder of her time. She specializes in adult comprehensive eye care, although the practice is equipped to see anyone age newborn and up. “What I really like about this organization is that it is dynamic and innovative, and it has given me the space, trust and resources to help patients by improving processes through efficiency and collaboration.”
Caring for patients with diabetes is one area where all medical professionals at Atrius Health are passionate, Dr. Sharda says. She helps coordinate the visual aspect of the care, working to ensure that patients with diabetes receive the retinal exams that they need. “It has been so interesting, professionally challenging and motivating to work here,” she says. “We have a strong team, and I’m proud of the work we do together between the ODs, MDs, opticians and support staff in all the sites.”