Adventures In Sixth Semester

 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.


Non-traditional Summer 

This summer was almost the summer that never was because of taking a full schedule of classes. Thankfully we finished the semester and are on to fall semester. This semester was challenging but it was nice to learn more about the speciality areas of optometry such as neuro-optometry, contact lenses, pediatrics, and binocular vision..

I had my first semester of patient care. It was an intimidating at first to examine people that weren’t my classmates or family and friends. You did not have an idea what conditions were going to sit into your chair. But that’s a part of being a doctor. With the help of my attendings doctors I improved in my efficiency and diagnostic skills over the course of the summer. I saw a wide variety of conditions from unusual refractive error, binocular vision issues, cataracts, and other diseases. For me, it made these various conditions more real and more memorable into my mind. This way I will remember the conditions better when I see them again.

In addition to patient care, when we were not seeing patients we would work on different clinical techniques or known as “orange sheet.” This sheet consisted of not as commonly done but still important clinical tests. We would have to practice these a certain number of times and perform them at least once for an attending. If you did it well, the attending would sign off. We will also get these sheets in the fall and spring with different skills to practice. This semester I will continue in Primary Vision Care in addition will also be seeing patients in the Advanced Ocular Care Clinic. This clinic is where we patients with various ocular conditions such as glaucoma, conjunctivitis, and dry eye.

Once the semester was over, we had another week of Keystone. This was different than the previous week of Keystone we took last year in that we focused on getting the correct diagnosis and treatment for our patients. It was great to see again how far we had come throughout second year and the summer of third year. The potential diagnoses came to us with relative ease and it just became an exercise in making sure we got all of the correct possibilities. It also was a great way to solidify more diseases and concepts.
One truly rewarding and statisfying thing I got to do was to ride in Pelotonia again this year! This event raises money for research at the James Cancer Hospital at Ohio State. Last year I rode for 50 miles and this year I had the privelage to ride 180 miles over the course of 2 days. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done physically and mentally, especially since I did not train enough for it because of school work. I also served as the team captain this year along with my roommate Derek Metz. The two of us along with three other classmates and our professor Dr. Mutti particpated in the event. The first day ride seemed fairly easy up until mile 62. Then the large hills came and sapped a lot of my energy and that of the other riders. Getting to Kenyon College after 100 miles felt amazing especially since I had a hot meal and a massage waiting for me. The second day was much tougher at first since the route consisted of many steep hills and, because I was not fully recovered from the first day, made the journey slow going. Despite how arduous the journey was, the Ohio countryside was beautiful and worth seeing. Many people also came out in town centers and along country roads with supportive signs, cow bells, and refreshments to help us along. If anything, it made my pain and discomfort melt away, even if it was only for few seconds. It also reminded me why I was doing the ride. It was for all of those have suffered from cancer, especially those I knew. God forbid if I ever had to tell one of my patients they have/might have cancer I want their to be effective treatment available without horrible side effects and high survival rates. This research money will bring that goal closer to reality.  

With 5 semesters down, I am officially halfway through optometry school! Its amazing looking at the current first years starting this week and think that I was in their position only 2 years ago. The amount of knowledge I have accumulate seems astronomical to me. It seems much more tangible that I will be a doctor soon and that I will be prepared to do so. This semester will bring me one more step closer. Lets hope it’s a good one!

Summer Season = Summer School…

Welp another semester in the books! And in about two years I will officially be an OD! After the the AOA Advocacy Conference, the semester was absolutely crazy! I first had my final proficiency of second year. This consisted of completing a full exam on one of our classmates in an hour and 45 minutes while being graded by a proctor. Because of all the practice we had gotten from our clinic skills assignments and the previous exams we had performed, I felt very confident in that I would do well. That is until I actually got to my proficiency.  The gravity of the proficiency hit me while setting up my exam room and I had to fight through nerves throughout.  Thankfully I passed that and all of my other finals! Therefore, I’m officially a third year!

Unfortunately this means summer classes too. Thankfully the classes will become more clinically focused and will cover different specialities within optometry such as contact lenses, pediatrics, neuro-optometry, binocular vision, and glaucoma. 

Looking back to one year ago today, I received my white coat. It’s awe-inspiring to think of all the things I learned in the past year. Now my classmates have reached another milestone to complement our summer classes: starting our third year clinic rotations! Every semester each one of the third years will be in our Primary Vision Care (PVC) about 1-2 half days every semester. Everyone will also do a one semester stint in the Advanced Ocular Care (or disease) clinic and in the Eyewear Gallery. This semester I will just be in PVC. Like many of my fellow third years, my first day in PVC was a bit rocky. I had never done an eye exam by myself before so it was a lot to get used to. It also didn’t help that we had a tornado warning in the middle of my exam so we had to stop and take shelter in the basement of the building. Thankfully my patient was a good sport about the whole situation and I managed to finish the exam. Overall I’m excited to see many more patients and advance my clinical skills in the coming year. 

I have my second day of PVC tomorrow. Here’s to hoping my exams tomorrow go smoothly and are tornado-free. Wish me luck! 

First Time “Optocrat” in Washington, D.C

I remembered that in middle school we learned the School House Rock “I’m Just a Bill” which discussed how a bill gets passed through Congress. Well I finally got to see much of the process in action, minus a talking and singing paper bill. 

Eleven of our classmates including fellow blogger Kevin made our way to DC for Congressional Advocacy Conference in Washington, DC. This conference serves as an opportunity for students and optometrists to come together tell politicians why optometry is important!

The first part of the Congressional Advocacy Conference consisted of education. This included speakers about aging in America, tips on how to properly talk to congressmen, and on the important bills we would be advocating for. These three bills included:

HR 1688 – this bill would allocated 20 new residency positions in VA healthcare system specifically for optometry. This would help work through the backlog of veterans wanting eye care services and give more educational opportunities for recent graduates who want to pursue a residency.

HR 1312 (National Health Service Corp Improvement Act) – this bill would allow optometry back into the National Health Service Corp. This is a federal program that allows primary care providers to receive scholarships or loan forgiveness in exchange for working in underserved rural or urban areas for a specified number of years. This bill would help meet an overwhelming demand for eye care services in our nation’s health centers and give recent graduates a way to pay off their student loans

HR 2 (also known as the “doc fix” or the “SGR fix”) – this bill reforms changes the way Medicare pays physicians from a system that has consistently cut reimbursements to a quality and performance based system that should increase reimbursements for all physicians including optometrists. 

Armed with this knowledge, excitement, and previous binge-watching of House of Cards, I set off for Capital Hill with members of the AOA and other students to be an “optocrat.” No matter your political affiliation whether it be Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Tea Party, etc. we all had a vested, bipartisan interest in advancing our profession on Capitol Hill. 

Due to the busy schedules of many politicians, I met with their legislative aides. The other doctors, students, and I talked about the bills. I was fortunate to discuss the burden of our student loan debt and, in one case, the positive impact optometry has on the VA. The meetings were only about 15 minutes but enough to get our point across. All of the people I met were receptive to our ideas, aides and congressmen alike. After each meeting, we reported to a room in the one of the House office buildings to write a formal thank you note and report back to the  AOA how the meeting went. 

In between meetings there was some fun exploring the Capital Hill area including riding the train that connected the Senate office buildings to the main Capital building. In addition this weekend happened to be the same weekend as the Cherry Blossom Festival. The National Mall and the Potomac River we’re cover in these beautiful flowers. Given the harsh winter we experience this past year it was a much welcomed change. 

This day was particularly important because the SGR fix was to be discussed and voted on in the Senate later that afternoon. With the help of a friendly docent, the doctor I was with and I obtained passes to Senate gallery to listen to the debate.

Much of time was not spent watching a debate but rather watching a Senate page rotate a pencil multiple times for 45 minutes. Two different senators did speak on the issue. The first was Sen. Jefferson Sessions of Alabama who spoke against the SGR fix, saying it would cost the US more money in the long term. The second senator was Sen. Ron Wyden from Oregon who spoke for the bill. Most the session was rather boring unfortunately and consisted mostly of a Senate page adjusting a pencil on a desk approximately six times. Soon I had to leave and catch my flight back to Columbus.

Later that night the Senate voted overwhelming to approve the bill with a signature from President Obama coming soon afterwards.

This was such an incredible experience not only advocating for optometry, but watching a bill that I had a small role in advocating, get debated in the Senate and eventually pass! It made the political process more real for me and showed that I can have an impact especially with the help of others. It was also an excellent opportunity to get to know prominent members of the Ohio Optometric Association (OOA). They were legitimately excited for us to come along and I received excellent career insight and advice from them. I recommend every optometry student come to this event at least once during their time in school. 


PAC, Practicals, and other Activities from My Fourth Semester

 Eyeball Friends

Once the semester started, it has not stopped! It has become very busy but not in the way previous semesters were. For one  thing my fellow second years and I have officially begun seeing patients. I cannot discuss the details due to HIPAA privacy laws but I can say my first exam went extremely well.

Besides more clinic responsibilities, I’ve been working very hard on spearheading our schools section of the American Optometric Association – Political Action Committee (AOA-PAC) The point of the campaign is to raise money to help advocate for optometry’s best interest in state and federal governments. So far it has been very successful! The Ohio Optometric Association (OOA) has been incredibly helpful providing support and advice for my position. My other responsibility is to recruit classmates and plan a trip to the Congressional Advocacy Conference in Washington D.C. There, we will meet with congressmen, and discuss and promote bills that are important to optometry. It’s a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about the political process and help out the procession of optometry.

It has not been all work thankfully. We recently had the annual EyeBall at the beautiful Columbus Atheneum. It was a great way to socialize with our classmates as well as recognize faculty, staff and students who have contributed greatly to College. This year my fellow blogger Elizabeth won the Student Leader of the Year Award so congrats to her! There was plenty of food, drinks and dancing to make it a wonderful evening.

We recently finished our first round of midterms which included exams in our Retinal Diseases, Ocular Pharmacology, and Visual Neurophysiology and Perception classes. These classes all required a lot of study time but the exams were not that bad. We also had two practicals in our Advanced Ocular Techniques class. Our first practical was on gonioscopy, which is when an oversized contact lens is placed directly on the eye and it is used to make sure the patient isn’t at risk for angle closure glaucoma. It was one of the hardest practicals I have had to do but I’m so glad that it was a success. Our other practical involved a similar piece of equipment but this one was used to look at different parts  of the retina.

Even with the incessant cold and copious amounts of snow, my classmates and I have managed to make it the best of it. This past Friday I ended up going skiing for the first time with some of my more athletically inclined classmates. They were patient with me as I fell on my butt and was unable to get up on multiple occasions. Eventually I got it and had wonderful time. Hopefully I can go back again before the weather warms up and before our second round midterms starts.


Finals Time is Here…and done!

Nick and Matt at the Shoe

I’m finally home after a long and arduous semester. As anyone is our class would tell you, this was probably the hardest one yet in optometry school. I did learn a great deal though and much of it I will be able to directly apply to next semester classes and clinic. The semester ended with a bunch of proficiency exams. Most of these were a review of what skills we had learned throughout the semester. All of these skills equal a full comprehensive eye exam (as long as a patient doesn’t have any serious eye issues). This means I am ready to see my first real patients next semester! I am beyond excited for this! We will be doing full eye exams on our healthy friends and family members with the help of one of our fellow second years. We still haven’t gotten our clinic assignments but we should all know very soon.

I did squeeze in some fun between the bajillion tests, quizzes, and proficiencies. On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, it was Ohio State’s annual Mirror Lake Jump. At midnight, my friends and I ran to Mirror Lake and jumped into the water. It was about 20 degrees outside. I was surprised on how cold the water (even though I really shouldn’t have been) but at least I was doing it with 10,000 of my closet friends. Afterwards I ran the four or so blocks back to our friend’s apartment. The heat never felt so good. That Saturday was The Game. My brother is a current graduate student at *ichigan so he was able to come and see The Game with me. It was a great victory for Ohio State and great opportunity to rub it into my brother’s face afterwards. One thing he did remark on was the kindness of all of the Ohio State fans towards him. I’m glad that fellow Ohio State fans treated him well despite his choice of schools.

I’m looking forward to the upcoming semester. But for right now, I am just going relax, eat Christmas cookies and enjoy the upcoming holidays. You should all do the same. Happy Holidays everyone and I’ll catch up with you guys after the New Year!

Third Semester’s the Charm


This semester has been non-stop and I’m glad for the small break to provide an update on what’s been going on.

So most important for this semester is that my fellow second years and I are finally learning how to do a full exam between two classes. One class focuses on the ocular health portion of the exam which includes slit lamp, BIO, and fundoscopy. The other class focuses on primary care aspects of the exam including refracting, visual acuities, patient history, and many other techniques. Some techniques are easier than others but the professors and other attending optometrists are incredibly helpful. The time within is not usually enough to learn the techniques so we have to practice outside of lab. Someone is always available and willing to practice their clinical skills with you. It’s a great break from book studying that we did some much of last year.

I was also fortunate enough to attend EastWest Eye Conference in Cleveland two weeks ago. To read more about my time there you can read my article on

This semester I also took on the position of the Local AOA-PAC Liaison. My responsibility is to raise awareness about the political issues affecting optometry on the state and national level. In addition, I will also help coordinate the AOA-PAC drive at Ohio State which raises money to help fight for the best interests of optometry and plan Ohio State’s trip to the Congressional Adovcacy Conference in Washington, DC in March. Most of my work will take place in the spring semester but this semester, I will be having the President of Ohio Optometric Association coming in to talk to my classmates about AOA-PAC.

I also recently took the role of Treasurer-Elect for the Student chapter of the American Academy of Optometry (SAAO). The goal of the group is encourage student involvement in Academy and to education students on latest research going on in optometry. The organization had existed before but was recently resurrected. I’m excited to be a part of this organization and cannot wait to see what amazing things it will do.

Overall, the semester has been excellent but a little stressful. With a multitude of tests, proficiencies, meetings, and just living in general, I sometimes forget that the whole point of optometry school is to become an optometrist. For me, this means being excited to go to work every day, and having the honor of improving people’s lives. This ultimately equates to a satisfying and purposeful life. My roommate recently asked me what the reason I decided to do optometry. I had not been asked this in quite some time but it forced me to remember all of those reasons. It reminded me why I am doing this in the first place and to keep going. It also has been making those late nights of studying a lot easier to go through.

I did get one brief respite from studying. On Halloween, a few classmates and I dressed up as if it were Christmas! My fellow blogger Elizabeth (definitely check out her blog later) came up with the idea. She and some of our other classmates dressed up as reindeer while I went as Santa. Together, we went to downtown for the annual InterProfesssional Council Halloween Party which is always a good time.

Now that I have had a chance to breathe, it’s back to studying and practicing.

New School Year!

So I have been lax about the posting here and I apologize for that. As you can imagine, things have been pretty busy. Most important is that I completed my first year and received my white coat. I cannot tell you the sense of accomplishment my classmates and I felt once we got them. This had been something we worked towards for the whole year. We earned this! It was even better to have our friends and family there to celebrate with us.

White Coat Instagram

                So then my summer break started and I had the most amount of free time I had all year.  I filled that time with some summer fun and work at a local optometrist’s office. There I was trained to work in all aspects of the office including the front desk, pretesting, and optical work. The experience has been invaluable so far and has helped me learn more about the business of optometry. It has also already helped me with some of my classes. I’ll keep this job throughout my remaining years of optometry school for both a source of income and for experience. I would recommend this to anyone who has the time.

                Summer could not last forever unfortunately and I did have to return to school; this time as a second year and with a new class of first years. I haven’t gotten a chance to meet all of them yet but the ones that I have are wonderful people and were eager for the school year to start. It had a lot of nostalgic feelings seeing the first years go through a lot of the same Orientation and Welcome Week activities that I did just last year.

                One major event that has already happened was my first day in pre-clinic and my first time using my white coat! During this whole semester, we will finally be learning about how to do a full eye exam from start to finish. It’s an exciting but daunting process given the number of things we will have to learn. For our first lab we started out with taking a patient history and their visual acuities. My instructor emphasized always keeping eye contact with our patient and show that we are listening to them. This way can start building a good trusting doctor-patient relationship. Overall it was great to finally be in lab and learning how to be a doctor.

I’ll keep everyone posted on the other things going on at our school this year. It should be a busy one!

Another Day

Many prospective students as well as my family and friends wonder what an average day here is like. So last Friday I kept notes on what I did and compiled them. There is some variation between the days but this pretty typical.

6:00 AM My iPhone alarm wakes me and I groggily make my way to shower. I’m sad I have to wake up but pumped that it’s Friday but more importantly it’s my half day in clinic! It takes me extra time to get dressed this morning. It’s mostly because I stink at tying a tie. Once that’s done I eat a frozen breakfast sandwich, pack my lunch and I’m driving to school.

8:00 AM My first class of the day is Dr. Earley’s Neuroanatomy class. In this we learn everything about the brain and nerves of our body. It’s important for us to know this information especially since many neurological disorders have ocular symptoms associated with it. Today we continue our discussion of cranial nerves III and IV. A lot of information is given in this class but Dr. Earley makes it interesting with true and sometimes humorous stories of patients he has seen.

10:00 AM After grabbing a pretzel bagel from Bruegger’s, I settle in for Dr. Yu Physical Optics and Photometry class. The class is focused on teaching us the behavior of light and how this applies to optometry. Today we learned about polarizing filters which are used in sunglasses to eliminate glare from the sun or from other objects.

11:00 AM The last class of the day is Pathophysiology taught by Dr. Delgado-Nixon (or VDN as she is known as). Just like neurological disorders, many common systemic problems such as autoimmune and vascular diseases have ocular symptoms. It’s important for us as optometrist to know the underlying pathology that causes these and how they affect the eye. Today we continued learning about atherosclerosis which is when an artery wall accumulates fat and calcium which can constrict the vessel. This is important to us because plaques can be created and block important arteries such as those supplying the retina. If this happens it can cause a patient to go blind in that eye!

12:00 AM I get my PB&J sandwich and return to the lecture hall for a review session with VDN. We have a test coming up on Tuesday and so she spends the time quizzing us on exam topics. These review sessions are optional but I like to use the time to figure what I do not know and be able to study those topics for the exam. Most professors do at least one of these before every test.

1:00 PM It’s clinic time! I grab my acuity cards and red paddle and make my way up to the consult room. I find the third year I am assigned to and we are off seeing patients. My job as a first year is to perform visual acuity testing, visual field testing, take the blood pressure of the patients and occasionally stereo testing. If the person also has glasses, I figure out the prescription of the glasses using a machine called a lensometer. The third years are incredibly helpful and willing to answer any questions that we have. As I watch them, I get excited thinking about being in their position in less than two years especially having my own white coat. The time passes quickly and it’s time to leave clinic and start the weekend!

7:00 PM After a long day and a long week, I muster the energy to grill myself a hot dog and sit down to watch Netflix’s for bit. I’ll need the energy for the Eye Ball the next evening and for the two exams this week. At least spring break is coming up fast along with a chance for much need sleep. As I fall asleep that night, I imagine myself wearing a white coat of my own. At least that day is only 78 days away.

It’s Over…for now


The semester is over and I’m finally back home! The last few weeks of the semester were a blur with exams, practicals, and finals. But happy to say I passed this semester and I can’t wait to return in January.

Practicals are structured similar to the way they were in undergrad for me. They included stations and time limits. The questions would be about structures photographs, models, histology slides, and in one case actual human skulls. But the one major difference was the complexity of the questions. Some of them at the stations would point to a structure and ask about the function or other details about the structure such as origins, insertions, what other structures it connects to, etc. At the end of one of the practicals, the TA read out the answers so I had a better how I did coming out of the exam.  

Final exams this semester were the most difficult finals I have ever had. It lasted 7 days with 3 reading days in between which was much longer than what I was accustomed to. The material covered everything for the whole semester which for some classes added up to over one thousand slides, diagrams, drawings. This made it much for difficult to study for them. I was forced to prioritize what I needed to review based on the importance of the topic or how uncomfortable I felt about it. It made me wish I had studied more consistently and steadily throughout the semester.

Even though we had all these exams come at us one after another with all of this material to review, it was not all bad. Our class president and fellow blogger Elizabeth worked with our professors to get at least one, sometimes two review sessions scheduled for each of our classes. These reviews are student driven meaning that professors review concepts base upon our questions. I did not always have a specific questions but it was really nice to hear stuff from lecture or lab repeated. It also pointed out some deficits in knowledge that I had in my classes.

There was some good fun thrown into the mix as well. I was fortunate enough to go to the big Ohio State vs. *ichigan football game (otherwise known as The Game). My brother is currently a graduate student at *ichigan and he got tickets for me and my Dad. The atmosphere was amazing even though those appalling colors of blue and gold (or maize as they call it) was adorned everywhere in Ann Arbor. I was in the student section with brother and Dad but there were a surprisingly large number of Buckeyes in the section as well. The game was a nail biter from beginning to end only made worse by the sounds of “Hail to the Victors” and “You Suck” from the *ichigan students around me. Thankfully we won and I got to leave the stadium victorious but with dissatisfied family members.

Now to relax and not worry about any optometry school stuff until the next semester begins. Happy Holidays everyone!