Hello! I have been wanting to blog forever, but I have to be pretty strict in how I use my time now that it is “boards season” and the end of last semester was a whirlwind. The turn of the new year sort of is a big mental shift for us third year students as we begin to prepare for the National Board (NBEO) part I exam in March. I started casually working through review material back in October with the intention of getting through the first pass of the material before January 1st, but life did not pan out that way. Now I am reorganizing for new goals and a new schedule to be sure I get through all the material twice before the exam.
Since my last post, many new and exciting things have happened! We have received our fourth year externship assignments. I actually got my first and second choices with regards to our Advanced Practice site and Ocular Disease site. I feel super fortunate because all three of my semesters are at locations I can commute to from my home, so I can stay with my husband. My VA site is going to be a really long drive (about 1.5 hours), but I do a little over an hour now. Last fall was full of excitement starting with a Remote Area Medical (RAM) trip to Charleston, West Virginia where about 20 optometry and pre-optometry students helped provide at least 450 free comprehensive eye exams and about 600 pairs of free glasses to anyone in need. I did a RAM trip as a first year, but I was only able to help with the entrance testing, which is important, but I learned an incredible amount from being able to actually perform the exams. I think the first day I did 21 refractions, which really improved my skills. We also took turns doing dilated slit lamp exams and binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy, which allowed us to see some interesting pathology. We were fortunate to have Dr. Nerderman go with us from the college, and there were three other doctors from around the country who all went out of their way to show us anything they saw they thought we should see or help us identify things were had not seen before. It was an amazing learning experience!
A few weeks after that trip I went to San Antonio, Texas for the American Academy of Optometry Meeting. I highly recommend making a trip to San Antonio if you get the chance. It was a really neat city with so much to offer. I could write a ton about it, but the short of it is, that is the location of the Alamo and the whole downtown is built around a beautiful river walk. On top of getting to explore an incredible city, we also learned a ton at the conference. There were optometrists and professors from around the world at the conference presenting and participating, and I really learned a lot. It is also neat to be at a point in my education where I know what talks I am interested in, areas I would like to learn more about, etc. I participated in the Student Fellowship Program, which has a set of required activities to attend. Some other highlights included the first ever academic challenge, which was a quiz bowl for the different colleges to participate in and OSU won! I highly recommend going to the meeting at least once. It seems particularly popular to go third year because our schedules just allow for more flexibility to travel as long as you get the clinic leave. It was also fun because both of our flights had many of our professors and classmates on them. They did the whole, “O-H… I-O” thing over the intercom because there were so many of us on the plane. On our way back, many of us had some travel complications, so we ended up getting a free night in a hotel to take a flight out the next day and a $250 voucher for airfare in the future. Thanks to that little hiccup, I get to take a trip to Georgia this spring for only $50!
This week was my first week in my spring clinics, and I think I am going to love these rotations! I am in Primary Vision Care (PVC) and Advanced Ocular Care (AOC) clinics this semester with a four-week rotation through contact lens in April (contact lens clinic is a fourth year clinic, primarily). I am super sad to be done with my fall clinics because I just adored vision therapy, and I got really attached to my patients. It was awesome to spend an hour with a person every week, and sometimes you saw the same person for six or more weeks! It was great getting to be a part of the care team for so many people with traumatic brain injuries, too. I learned a lot about the extent to which a concussion can impact a person, and now I just cringe when people talk about them casually. During my time in vision therapy, the majority of the patients would say things like, “Thanks to vision therapy, I can read again!” I had one patient who said he felt uncomfortable navigating stairs because he could never quite focus his eyes on each step, and now he does it without even thinking about it. Vision therapy is really impactful! I also had a lot of really interesting cases in PVC, and I just adored working with Dr. Hopkins. He transformed every part of my exam and helped me really think about writing a good spectacle prescription, and I look forward to continuing to improve on those skills.
Just a quick lifestyle note for all the prospective students, we do have all of our clinics as third year students through the holiday break. I had six days of clinic during the three week break from classes. I actually really enjoyed these times in clinic the most because it felt like being a doctor where you just see patients and don’t have to worry about juggling classes. I am fortunate in that I live at home year round, and my immediate family is about 40 minutes away, so I did not mind going into clinic on Dec. 26. Some people who are from other states have a lot harder time with the holidays. I highly recommend that during your third year you plan as best as you can what days you want off according to the school leave policy, so you can request them as soon as the email goes out saying it is time for requests. Leave requests are granted on a first come, first serve basis, so you have to be ready to act fast.
I cannot believe that tomorrow is my last first day of classes! I just made my last semester schedule, and went through all my beginning of the semester routines (putting midterms/ finals, deadlines on my calendar, etc.). We start first thing tomorrow morning with our class about injections and lasers! I am excited for our classes this semester! Have a wonderful week, all! Below are some pictures from RAM and Texas.