The College of Optometry is pleased to welcome Dr. Coral Pucci (’17) as Assistant Clinical Professor. For Dr. Pucci, what started as a desire to go into marine biology and marine veterinary medicine evolved into specializing in disease as an OD. In her undergraduate studies, she had to learn about large, agricultural animals and didn’t love it. Dr. Pucci eventually decided to investigate other medical fields. After graduation, she worked as a pharmacy technician and shadowed medical professionals. She quickly ruled out some pathways and focused on MDs and ODs. What did she learn? “That optometrists are fun! And the level of competition for MDs was not for me.” She interviewed at two Midwest optometry colleges, because of the proximity to her family in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. On her visit to UMSL, “the student ambassadors tipped the scales. They had so much energy and communicated the family atmosphere that I was looking for.”
After graduating from UMSL in 2017, Dr. Pucci completed a residency. “I thought all through school that I would do a residency. There is always more to learn. I just wasn’t sure if I should pick something I love and enhance it, or pick something I wasn’t as good at and get better.” She didn’t apply for a match, because she knew she could always do it later. Dr. Pucci was approached by Dr. Julie DeKinder, Director of Academic Programs and Residencies, who suggested that she look at some of the sites that weren’t filled. She contacted Dr. Linda Lucas at the VAMC in Marion, Illinois. “It was a match made in heaven!” She was glad that she chose disease, something she has a true passion for.
Dr. Pucci thought that she would like to teach later, after she had gained some experience. But she heard about the job opening at UMSL and decided to apply. “I didn’t want to fall into UMSL just because of comfort. I talked to faculty at other colleges and determined that this is where I should be.” When asked about the switch from student to faculty, Dr. Pucci reports that she is thrilled. “I have so much respect for the people who taught me. I have been quickly accepted into the group, and everyone is so friendly.” She is grateful to get a peek at what goes on behind the scenes at the college. “The faculty and staff put in so much work to be prepared for our students.”
When not on campus or writing lectures, Dr. Pucci and her roommate, Dr. Katie Loock (’17) often discuss the interesting cases they’ve come across. “I have a list of things I want to look up later, when I have a little more time!” She’s enjoying her Richmond Heights neighborhood and seeing some St. Louis sites that she missed while a student. But she’s most excited about bringing pharmacology to her students. “It can be a struggle to learn pharmacology during second year, when you don’t have the benefit of seeing clinic patients. But my VA residency showed me how important it is!” In reflecting on her first stint at UMSL, Dr. Pucci is amazed at how much she learned during those four years. Now, she’s on the other side of the desk, encouraging students to be their best.