Meet Our VT Shirlene Fuerst
How would you describe yourself?
I’m caring, compassionate, positive, love people (and dogs!)
How did you decide to become a VT?
After I went through vision therapy myself and saw how impactful it was in my own life, I knew I wanted to give that feeling to others. And when the opportunity presented itself I jumped in with both feet. Now I’ve been a vision therapist for over 30 years.
Why do you like being a VT?
I can’t tell you how much I love my patients. To give hope where there has been hopelessness; to turn apprehension for school and reading into a love for it. The best days of my life are when patients finish their vision therapy and I see their results. It’s the greatest satisfaction to give the gift of loving to read and learn to your patients and watching their confidence soar.
How would you describe your work style?
When I see a patient for the first time and they share their story, I can identify on so many levels! There is an immediate connection and incredible empathy. After a few tears, I can see the end game and the hope that I have for the patient that‘s sitting across from me. Due to my past vision struggles (amblyopia). I was diagnosed with amblyopia at age 5. Back then, the only treatment available was an eye patch for my strong eye, which created a lot of insecurities for me, as well as struggles in school.
It wasn’t until I was in my early 20s and working at EYEcenter that I saw Dr. Fred Fuerst for vision therapy. I had no idea that this is what my “normal” could be! I always struggled with reading: skipping lines, losing my place. Due to the amblyopia I also didn't have depth perception, so driving and playing sports was very challenging. My vision was interrupting the functions and joys in my life, and that’s the feeling I can empathize with when I meet my patients for the first time.
How do you encourage a child to keep working at VT when they are feeling frustrated/down?
I listen. Let them describe their problem and try to get to the root of the situation at hand, and address it at that level. I want the connection with their story first, and can build understanding through that.