The Growing Pains of Clinic


I am sitting in Fry Hall nervously waiting to do my contact lens proficiency at 11:00 today, so I am going to give a quick update on the summer semester! In general I will say that the summer semester holds true to its reputation of being challenging. I went into the semester thinking, “I only have two full days of class/clinic and three short days! This can’t be so bad!” What I did not realize was that I rarely actually leave the college on those early days because there are so many other things to do. Like all semesters, there is an adjustment period and a learning curve to overcome. I feel this semester has more of a learning curve than the previous ones because it is our first time in true clinic. Second year clinic allows for up to four hours with one patient, who is likely someone you know. Third year Primary Vision Care Clinic (PVC)¬† is two patients in four hours, and you have no idea who is coming until they are in your chair. In Vision Therapy (VT) and Advanced Ocular Care (AOC) you typically know who your patients are going to be and can develop a plan in advance, so not all patient encounters are a surprise like PVC. Clinic really dominates much of your thinking as a third year student, which is a new experience. You spend time reflecting after clinic on your actual clinical findings, your technique, the story of the person you just spent two hours with, etc. Then you spend time studying, and practicing the areas you felt did not go quite as well. We all struggle to develop the balance of knowing when to do what tests, what tests will give reliable data, what additional tests will be needed, etc. It is really challenging to see something new clinically, recognize it, develop a strategy to either further evaluate the finding, develop a plan to treat the finding, determine what referrals to make, and so on in real time (thankfully you have your attending doctor to help). Time is probably the absolute most challenging thing for clinic when you are first starting out. It is extremely hard to work quickly when nearly every patient encounter will have something¬† you have never seen before. It is also hard to be a new clinician trying to work fast, think critically, run accurate tests, and carry on conversation. I am a person who loves people and loves to get to know every person’s unique story, so I have to be really controlled in clinic to keep the exam on track at all times and not get too far into additional conversation. I am looking forward to the day that my skills are so second nature that I can have full conversation at the same time. I also so much look forward to having patients who I see regularly. I find myself wondering how my past patients are doing or what happened once they were referred to ophthalmology or AOC.

8 hours later:

I am finishing this blog now post proficiency and sitting on my patio enjoying a beautiful 80 degree day! I have a lot of work to do, so I am going to wrap this up quickly. Just a few more comments about the summer semester that are non-clinic related. Outside of clinic, this summer semester is back to the studying life. Second year we spent less time studying and more time practicing skills. We have five classes this summer, and they all require a lot of studying. I actually don’t mind studying in the summer because I study outside almost always. One huge bonus to living over an hour from the school is living in the country where I can study outside listening to the birds, surrounded by trees and flowers, and watching the hummingbirds at my feeder! Unfortunately, commuting in the summer is much harder than I anticipated. I traded my parking stress and weather anxiety for construction stress. If you are considering making a long commute, plan for the worst with construction. My commute this summer has been pretty consistently an hour and a half when everything goes according to plan. I had so many detours, I was at one point driving 74 miles one way to school. Thankfully, I have extremely kind people in my life who are willing to let me stay with them. I have stayed in Columbus more this summer than all the other semesters combined. I have stayed over with my friend a lot because we study together. I highly recommend finding a person or a group who you can study well with. A lot of people study “together” in the sense that they both go somewhere and study independently but ask for help as needed. Jessica and I truly study together. We usually try to study all the material prior to studying together, and then a couple days before each test we go through it all together and teach each other. For me, my grades are always much better and I feel more confident when I take a test that we studied together for versus by myself. I highly recommend it.

As for my contact lens proficiency, I was pleased with how it turned out. We had to put on and evaluate a gas permeable contact lens with fluorescein dye, which makes the eye glow like a highlighter under blue light. We also had to put on and evaluate the fit of a soft contact lens. I am not a contact lens wearer, so the world of contact lenses has been all new to me. I am super excited to start learning about specialty lenses this fall!

Good luck to all those students who are applying and interviewing for optometry school! It is hard to believe that three years ago I was sitting on the same patio studying for the OAT wondering if I would get into optometry school. I can promise you, it goes fast!