Fall 2019

ESSENTIALS: HANNA FYLPAA, OD '14

Optometry is rewarding in a variety of ways, but how many ICO alumni can say that commuting to work is an adventure? Hanna Fylpaa, OD ’14, is based in Southeast Alaska. She primarily practices in Juneau. However, every 4-6 weeks, she boards a ferry boat or small aircraft to a remote village.  

“I load up all of my portable equipment into hard-sided cases and haul it with me,” she Dr. Fylpaa. She will often fly low over humpback whales, glaciers, and landmarks before reaching communities that “do not have roads in or out.” For 3-5 days at a time, she sees patients in field clinics.

There is no ophthalmologist nearby. So, Dr. Fylpaa must frequently help coordinate urgent flights to Anchorage or Seattle for tertiary care. Thanks to computer software shared across the Indian Health Service, she can access patients’ PCP, rheumatology, and neurology information, order labs and imaging, and refer to special providers. She adds, “I am also an officer in the Commissioned Corps for the United States Public Health Service, which means that I wear a uniform every day, maintain basic readiness standards, and could potentially be deployed to a humanitarian crisis or natural disaster.”

These are Dr. Fylpaa’s Essentials for practicing in the extreme environments of Alaska:

BOOK BOOST

““One of my favorite books is called Leadership and Self Deception. It is a sort of self-improvement book, which I don’t normally read. It turned out to be quick and easy. It has helped me with a lot of relationships and often gives me a boost of patience when interacting with people I don’t see eye to eye with.”

A DOG FOR ALL SEASONS

"Chuy, my dog, brightens my day. He is always up for the adventure and gets us out on the darkest, coldest, rainiest days. He has built-in outdoor gear and the weather doesn’t bother him much.” 

WARMING UP

“Something that keeps us warm in Alaska is a tropical vacation during the cold dark months! We spent a few weeks in Hawaii a few years ago, and luckily were able to line it up with Island Eyes for some CE. Last winter, we went to the Philippines for a few weeks to thaw and unwind.”

CATCH OF THE DAY

“Fishing is a fun way to get out on the water and spend time outdoors. We are fortunate to have fresh caught wild Alaskan salmon and halibut for dinner a few times per week. My biggest tip with fishing is patience - a skill that I am working on every day!”

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WILD ALASKA

“Glacier Bay National Park is such an incredible area. It is 3.3 million acres of rugged mountains, fjords, ocean, and temperate rainforest. I spent a week kayaking in Glacier Bay with my husband and 2 other couples in 2017. Seeing the tide-water glaciers calving, the baby seals on icebergs, brown bears way too close for comfort, and the 10,000+ foot peaks rising straight out of the water was breathtaking.”

VOICE OF CHOICE

“One of my guilty pleasures is mystery thriller books. I really like to read but will oftentimes listen to audiobooks while walking the dog, running, or doing housework. I don’t have a favorite audio book, but have found that I prefer British and Australian narrators!”

HOBBYIST HUSBAND

“My husband, Croix, is extremely laid back. He has such a sense of adventure that really gets me out of my comfort zone, such as learning to backcountry ski, surf lessons in the Philippines, getting open water scuba certified… the list goes on!”

THE ICO FAMILY

Amy Rindahl, OD ’14, FAAO, is one of my classmates from ICO. We have been friends since orientation 1st year. She came up to Juneau to visit in August, 2017. We did tons of hiking, running, boating, fishing, and zip lining while she was here!”

XTRATUF GEAR

“Good gear is a must in Alaska. XtraTuf brand is the most popular type of rain boot in Alaska. They offer a snug fit, some arch support, and Salmon Sisters have added variety to the colors and designs of the stereotypically brown boot. It is acceptable fashion to be worn out fishing, hiking up a mountain, or to dinner with friends.”

RESIDENT FRIEND

“Leslie Meyer, OD, FAAO, is the residency coordinator at Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, New Mexico, where I completed my residency. She is a great doctor and an awesome person. We have kept in touch and remain friends. She and her husband are actually two of the friends we kayaked in Glacier Bay with.” 

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