Arra Apikian Is All About Fitness and Optometry

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Arra Apikian is a second-year optometry student attending the Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry in Pomona, Calif. Though he is of Armenian heritage, he was born and raised in Iraq and moved to the U.S. when he was 17-years-old. Growing up, Apikian says, he was an active and energetic kid whose father taught him the importance of agood work ethic and taking pride in workmanship. Though his hometown often didn’t have electricity and he had to study by candlelight, his tenacity to pursue a higher education motivated him and eventually led him to optometry school.

After migrating to the U.S., he found work as an ophthalmic technician at the Retina Institute of California and as an ophthalmic imaging Specialist at the Doheny Eye Institute-Doheny Image Reading Center where his love for optometry was solidified. “It was rewarding for me to be part of an environment that created a noticeable change in a patient’s vision and being there firsthand to see the excitement of visual improvement,” Apikian told VMail Weekend. “A simple procedure not only improved a patient’s vision but changed their self-confidence and elevated their self-worth. The happiness and positivity from the interactions with patients was contagious. It changed my outlook on life.”

In February 2017, Apikian created his Instagram, Optomfit, which combines his passion for optometry and fitness. “School and fitness have always been a priority in my life. As a full-time student and part-time worker in my undergrad years and as an optometry student, I’ve always managed to have some time for working out, even if it was for a quick 30 minutes,” he stated. In between reflective posts about life in optometry school and images of the latest industry conference he went to, Apikian also posts photos of himself in the gym or on a hiking trail somewhere in Los Angeles. “It’s my way to relieve stress, take care of my body, and feel confident at the same time. I want to share my interests on social media and motivate others not to neglect their health even if they get busy and distracted by school or work.”

When it comes to creating content for Optomfit, Apikian finds that it’s sometimes difficult to follow a certain strategy and post consistently while being busy with school. However, he tries to stay focused on motivation, optometry and fitness, which are the main themes for his page.

  

“First, becoming a doctor isn’t an easy process. It requires a lot of studying, dedication and motivation for every step along the way. Second, starting optometry school and learning interesting facts about eye health encouraged me to share some of that information on social media to benefit others. Before I share any information, I make sure to look into my notes again and research online to make sure the information is accurate. Lastly, fitness has always been a passion of mine. I had to find a way to focus on myself and clear my mind during study breaks because I believe maintaining a healthy lifestyle is critical for mental and overall health—home workout videos are more convenient with busy schedules.”

Though managing a social media account with over a thousand followers comes with its challenges, Apikian makes life easier for himself by allowing his life in optometry school to influence his content. “My Instagram is basically a reflection of my life as an optometry student. I try to reflect my education in school on social media by posting educational facts or motivational quotes to inspire others,” he stated.

Optomfit has also connected Apikian to optometry students, practicing ODs, and even frame companies. He has gotten the opportunity to go to optometry conferences and events and was even chosen as one of the new Transitions student ambassadors for 2019. “One of the most rewarding aspects is putting your name out there, which opens doors for new opportunities. Social media helps you connect with people you might not meet in real life. It can even help build up your patient base while you’re still a student. Another rewarding aspect is being able to help out other pre-optometry students with application, interviews, or even with fitness/health advice to others.”

One of the practitioners Apikian got to meet was Harout Khanjian, OD, president/owner of California Eye Center Optometry located in Pomona as well. “Aside from all his accomplishments he uses his own weekly live television show on USArmenia to focus on educating the community about various eye conditions, diseases, disorders and their connection with the human body,” Apikian explained.

“When I attended his practice for clerkship I was motivated seeing how he treats and cares about his patients and I remember him telling me, ‘it will all be worth it at the end when you go home knowing you helped someone with their vision.’”

Though he doesn’t post with a specific target audience in mind, Apikian hopes that followers of Optomfit continue to engage with his page as he goes into the profession. “I plan to keep sharing my passion for optometry and fitness while I’m still in school. After graduation and as a practicing OD, I plan to share more educational posts about eye conditions, diseases and disorders,” he stated. “I want to inspire people in every way possible by sharing my journey as an optometry student who migrated to a new country and worked hard to accomplish his dreams.”