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RMU Doctor of Optometry Student, Toni Brown, Puts Her Heart Into Eye Care


It’s now fun trivia, but Toni Brown admits to being a tad nervous upon learning she was the first student to be accepted into the new Doctor of Optometry (DO) program at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (RMU).

Though she had already put deposits down at three other schools, Toni became intrigued about RMU when a classmate in her undergrad program talked about how his childhood optometrist, a respected and caring doctor, was going to be a professor in the University’s new Optometry program. The more Toni looked into RMU, the more interested she became. Getting a desirable education, clinical experience, and adventure much closer to her home in central Utah won her over.

“RMU has a great medical focus, and the professors seemed real personal and caring,” she said. “There are so many things you can do in Utah and through RMU that it would’ve been a dumb decision to choose not to be here.”

Initial feelings of apprehension quickly turned into excitement and comfort as faculty instilled a sense of belonging leading up to the start of classes in May 2023.

“I felt like part of the family once they accepted me. They were very welcoming,” Toni said. “The acceptance call was a 15-minute call. It was very centered on helping me as an individual.”

A Thriving Environment for Learning

A half-year into her OD experience, Toni enjoys being a part of the only Optometry program in the Intermountain West. She gushes about the impressive facilities and faculty, and the picturesque surroundings of the Provo, Utah-based university. That institution’s modern building is equipped with state-of-the-art tools and equipment to provide an ideal environment for learning.

In addition, the inclusivity of the student body, featuring graduate students from various healthcare professions around the nation, fosters a rich and diverse learning experience. And then there’s that sense of community.

“Being surrounded by individuals who are trying to help others, it has a great community feel,” she said. 

The genuine care for each student’s success has made her time at RMU rewarding.


Finding Her Path

Optometry wasn’t Toni’s first career choice. She initially explored nursing but found the emotional toll too heavy to bear. Having grown up on a farm, she also considered becoming a veterinarian. But her vet dreams came to an abrupt end after she had to perform an unpleasant tooth extraction on a dog while interning for a veterinarian.

Driven by a desire to make a positive impact on people’s lives, she opted for optometry to be able to help people in all circumstances, including those in small communities like her rural hometown of Venice, Utah.

“Optometrists are really ingrained in their communities, especially from the rural community I grew up in,” she said.

A Life Vision

Optometry feels like more of a calling than a career for Toni. As her journey continues, she envisions making a lasting impact — one that extends far beyond eye health, touching the hearts of every patient she encounters. Toni’s aspirations extend beyond eye care. She hopes to be remembered as a healthcare provider who genuinely cares for her patients as people. In her RMU classes, she’s learned that optometrists are not merely eye care providers — they also serve as social workers, friends, advocates, and individuals who foster personal connections with patients.

Toni’s goal is to create a balance between her work and personal life, allowing her to build intimate relationships with her patients and genuinely care about their overall health.

“The kind of doctor I would like to be remembered for,” she said, “is helping others to know that they are worth it, they’re loved, they’re important — because everyone is.”

Months after being selected first in her class, Toni continues to show that she’s also first class.