4th Year is Here!

Greetings from the other side of finals and life as a fourth year! Today’s blog is brought to you by coffee and summer rains, in the ever popular interview format. So, find a lounge chair, kick off your flip-flops, and enjoy yet another update from The Ohio State University College of Optometry!

(Interviewer, aka Kuu*): Hello all, and welcome to A Day in the Life of an Optometry Student! Joining us today is Hannah, back from her third-year tour, and ready to share all about the happenings of 4th year! Hannah, how are you?!

(H): I’m doing great, Kuu! Thank you so much for having me back!

(K): It’s great to have you with us today. So, tell me, where are you now?

(H): Well, Kuu, right now I’m still in Columbus, on what’s considered my “in-in” rotation. With this, I, and about a quarter of the rest of the class of 2019, bounce around between 5 different clinics here at the college for 3 months.

(K): That sounds pretty exciting. How are you liking it so far?

(H): I honestly love it here. Being in-in first has been a great way to ease into daily clinic life, which I’ve definitely appreciated. Though I wouldn’t say clinic was necessarily a struggle for me in third year, it’s been nice to gradually work into a larger volume of patients and hone some of my weaker skills as I go, rather than being thrown in to see over 50 on my first day.

(K): Your approach definitely sounds less stressful. How did you come to be in-house first? And is that how you wanted it to be?

(H): So, around a year ago, I started thinking more about extern rotations. Though they’d been explained in various brief lectures over the years, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, or what was considered the “best” way to work externs. Naturally, I turned to my attendings for advice. One in particular suggested being in the Columbus area first, as it would be more conducive to housing (rather than having multiple short-term leases), would allow me to gradually wean off of attending dependence, and would foster the strongest clinic skills. In my own mind, I also realized that such a schedule would allow me to be in the Columbus area while it was warm, while hopefully being placed far enough away on extern to escape the potential of another brutal winter. With all this in mind, I submitted my extern location and timing rankings mid-fall (through a process that will likely be changing dramatically this year, so I won’t go into any detail on it), and waited to hear back.

(K): It sounds like you put a lot of thought into your decision. And so, would you say it worked out as you had hoped? Do you indeed get to avoid another Ohio winter?

(H): So far, everything’s worked out great. It’s funny – I was so afraid of being disappointed by my placements that I refused to be the first person to look and see where I was going. I happened to be home for Thanksgiving when the extern email came out, and so I begged my older brother to look for me. After a few minutes of reading through the message and searching for my information, he assured me that I wouldn’t be disappointed, and announced to the family and I where I had been placed. Both extern locations were in my top 6 choices (aka, not in Ohio), and I was going to be in-house first. Admittedly, I was so thrilled by the news that I jumped out of my chair, screaming in excitement. It was a good night.

(K): I’m glad everything worked out for you. So, going back to current fourth year life, what do you enjoy most about it?

(H): That’s a tough question, Kuu. Honestly, I love most everything about fourth year life. Probably one of the biggest highlights though is not having to study (finally). Yes, we still have assignments for different rotations (like quizzes and case reports), and we are still in one business class with Dr. Wright, and there are some nights when I go home and look over different topics related to a patient that I saw during the day, but it’s totally different than the studying that we had to do before. After 3 long years, I can finally go home at night and not worry about finding time to study for an upcoming test, or review new information. I can largely learn in my own time, at my own pace, and focus more on the topics I’m interested in. It’s so much more relaxing.

(K): That sounds amazing. So, if you no longer need to spend long hours studying, what do you do with all your free time?

(H): It honestly varies quite a bit. Some nights, I admittedly don’t get out of clinic until 6:30 or so. On those nights, I can be pretty worn out, so I may just go home, make myself some dinner, and then just putter around doing odds and ends around the house until I’m too exhausted to function anymore. On the days that I get out earlier, I like trying to get a workout in, either by myself or with friends. When it’s nice, it can be awesome to go hiking at a metropark or go on a long bike ride to get out in nature. I’ve always loved yard work, so when there’s a break in the rain, I try to get out and work both at my house and at a family friend’s residence. Finally, on weekends, I head home pretty routinely to spend time with my parents and younger brother and help on the family farm.

(K): So you like to keep yourself pretty busy, it sounds? Do you get much vacation as a fourth year?

(H): Yes, I love to keep busy – so much so that last weekend, my dad compared my daily schedule to Tangled’s Rapunzel in the song When Will My Life Begin. Considering she’s my favorite Disney princess, I think that that may be one of my favorite compliments to date. As far as vacation time though, the short answer is no. Being in clinic is obviously what 4th year is all about, and so we are given a total of 5 days off in each in-house rotation (one Monday, Tuesday, etc). In theory, there can be some clinic swaps to modulate this schedule, but compared to previous years, it doesn’t feel like much.

(K): I can definitely understand that feeling. Do you have any suggestions on how to make the most of your vacations?

(H): Absolutely. My family rarely does the typical “family vacation” thing, so for me, it was all about using my days wisely and sporadically to allow for some form of a break almost every other week for the whole summer, rather than using all my days off at once. So, for instance, I took a random Thursday off to go hiking with a friend, and a random Wednesday to spend the day with my little brother. Mondays and Fridays I tried to make into long weekends, and then I chose to connect my Tuesday off with a holiday. Obviously this type of plan wouldn’t work for everyone, but I’ve been amazed at how much just a single day away can break up the monotony and give me more energy to finish out a week of clinic.

(K): Huh. I’d never thought of using vacation days that way. Good advice! Well, we’re running out of time for today, but before we go, is there any other opt-school advice you’d like to share with our audience?

(H): It sounds ridiculously cliche, but have fun and choose to make the most of wherever life finds you right now – whether that be a prospective student trying to plan details of the next 4-5 years, a first/second year enjoying the remaining days of your “last summer ever”, a third year counting down the days until summer semester is over at last, or a fourth year working to find some stability in the transition to full-time patient care. Life passes crazy fast – blink and you might miss all the wonderful things that this stage has to offer.

(K): True words indeed. Well, that’s all the time we have for today. Hannah, thank you so much for joining us! And friends, don’t forget to join us next time for another update from OSUCO’s A Day in the Life of an Optometry Student!