As the title suggests, I have successfully examined my first real patient! I think I’ve been looking forward to this day since I first decided to go to optometry school so I’ve easily been looking forward to this for at least 2 years. Throughout last semester and into this semester we’ve been practicing a lot on each other to learn all the skills we need for these exams but still, seeing my first real patient was a bit of a nerve-wracking experience. It’s hard to describe what makes it special or different but I think a big part of it is examining someone who doesn’t know everything we’re doing. Plus, something about truly having your own clinic exam room and hearing your name called over the intercom system makes it a special occasion.
Many of us have recruited family and friends to come donate their time (and eyes) to sit for us which really helps with comfort doing the exam. I was already worried about enough things that having my sister as my first patient at least made for one less thing to worry about. (Note: Full consent given and on file) Even so, they are our first real patients and that was pretty apparent. I learned a lot in the first week about being deliberate in your directions to the patient and specifying where to look, and explaining the purpose of the procedure. We practice on each other so much and know where to look, correct answers to give, that I realized I had a gotten a little lazy about a lot of that.
Regardless, seeing my first patient was great! Certainly not everything ran exactly as planned – I may have forgotten to do a test or two… – but finally getting to apply everything we’ve learned on real people was awesome. It was really rewarding to finally see some of the fruits of all the hard work we’ve put in classes start to pay off by seeing our first patients ever. Looking back at my first exam after the fact, I definitely have a list of things I need to work on but at the same time clinic was infectious. I can’t wait to get back in clinic, seeing my next patient, working on improving, and learning a whole new set of things with each exam. It’s a great feeling to have the first one in the books and now onto patient #2 of many more in my career next week.