And another semester is done! This semesters coursework was the most clinically oriented we have had this thus far. Classes included Systemic Diseases for Optometry, Third Party Payment Plans, Clinical Binocular Vision, and my personal favorite Advanced Contact Lenses with the accompanying lab class. Each of these classes taught us all important clinical skills such as how to treat and diagnose binocular vision disorders like Convergence Insufficiency, identify various systemic diseases based on retinal findings, and different specialty contact lenses for different types of eyes. It’s been great to delve deeper into the various specialties, especially to see if there is any desire to specialize after graduation. Right now, I would like to do a residency in Contact Lenses. Contact lenses can be used to improve vision in patients with diseases such as keratoconnus or dry eye. Right now it seems like it would be a highly rewarding area of optometry for me to practice.
This semester I had clinic two to three times a week. This included Primary Vision Clinic two half days a week. Clinic has been much easier than it was in summer semester. I have been become more efficient with procedures and better with my clinical thinking. With each passing session of seeing patients, I have more confidence in my ability to help my patients and handle their chief complaints. In addition, I spent this semester in the Advanced Ocular Care clinic. This is where patients with various conditions are managed including glaucoma, conjunctivitis, uveitis, dry eye and other disease states. This experience has been excellent in teaching me more about diseases. It also been great since every patient is incredibly appreciative of your efforts. You really feel like you are making a difference.
One other clinical experience we had was School Vision Screenings. In Ohio, school children are required to have there vision tested either through an eye exam or through a vision screening. Once a week, we went to local school and screened mostly first graders and checked for various conditions such as refractive errors, eye turns, color vision deficiencies, and ocular health issues. It definitely challenging getting the some of the kids to pay attention especially the boys, but In general they were fantastic and well-behaved. Some days it felt like an episode of “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” One day, I had a little boy call me Bigfoot due to my height and hairy arms (I guess). It was a good laugh and made the day more fun.
One highlight of this semester was attending the American Academy of Optometry’s Meeting in New Orleans. The Academy is an organization focused on research within optometry and then applying towards clinical practice; therefore the motto “Today’s Research, Tomorrow’s Practice.” It was a fantastic conference with some of the best CE I have attended. In one of those lectures included poetry to help us remember various diseases. Some of my professors and fellow classmates even presented about their research. It was great to support them and see Ohio State so well represented. On the last day I was in New Orleans, I went around and saw all the important sites including the French Quarter, Bourbon St., and Mardi Gras World where many of the famous floats for the Mardi Gras parades are made. I would highly recommend visiting New Orleans and Academy meeting if you get the chance.
The most exciting piece of news we received all semester was our externship assignments for fourth year. Externships are when we leave the College to go work in different modes of optometry practice. We select two different sites of 3 months length each. One site has to be at VA hospital and the other can be private optometry practices, surgical centers, low income clinics, and university hospitals. I have found out I’m going be at the Salt Lake City VA from November to January, and at the Wicker Park Eye Center in Chicago, IL from February to April. In Salt Lake City, I will be treating and managing diseases in veterans as well as working in the specialty contact lens service at University of Utah. In Chicago I will be working in a optometry-ophthalmology practice which serves a lower income Hispanic population. Occasionally I will also be working at LASIKPlus where I will be seeing pre and post-op refractive surgery cases. I’m very happy with the sites and I’m excited to continue seeing more of the country and continue learning to be a good optometrist.
With finals over, I can finally relax and enjoy Christmas with my family and New Year’s in Chicago. I hope everyone enjoys the Holidays and I’ll catch up later.