4th year rotations, trips, and Boards

Well, I failed to live up to my statement at the end of my last post that I would try to update more regularly. Whoops.

Although classes have been over now for some time and I generally have more free time, it’s amazing how that free time gets consumed with many other things. Most notably, being in clinic full time during 4th year consumes large blocks of time. In essence, clinic during 4th year reminds me a lot of when I worked in the “real world” before optometry school. Life during rotations often consists of waking up, go to work, come home and figure out dinner, lounge around a bit, go to sleep, and repeat. As a result, my motivation to do things in the evening is often pretty low after working a full day and unfortunately, the blog has fallen by the wayside. But here’s a synopsis of the last handful of months.

Fourth year in optometry school primarily consists of four, three-month rotations. Two of those rotations occur in Columbus at the college and the other two occur entirely outside of the college. In my case, my first two rotations were in Columbus over the summer and fall. Being in clinic full time was a really different experience to get used to. After being a student for more than half my life, switching to seeing patients all day everyday was a nice and welcome change, even if it presented some challenges and makes me question what I’m doing from time to time. But at the same time, I’ve gotten some really amazing patient experiences that I’m sure will make me a good clinician someday.

Checking another ballpark off the list in St. Louis. Along with San Fransisco and Oakland later in the summer.

But I haven’t entirely been in clinic all the time either, of course. In the spring, as I often do, I got to thinking about which baseball stadiums I have yet to get to and how I might get to a new stadium that season. And wouldn’t you know it, but St. Louis was a place I hadn’t been to and it’s only about a six-hour drive from Columbus! So I hatched a plan to convince my family (which doesn’t take much) to go to St. Louis around July 4th when I had a couple days off clinic.

The trip to St. Louis though only made me want to get to some more games and new ballparks, but I didn’t really think anything was going to work because of being in clinic so much during 4th year with limited time off. During the summer though, I had a former coworker, who I’ve remained good friends with, move to the San Francisco area and we jokingly talked about me coming to visit him. Initially it started as less than serious idea, but after looking into it more, things started falling into place.

My cousins and I outside Chinatown in San Fransisco.

First, Southwest runs a daily non-stop flight between Columbus and Oakland so that was temping, the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics would both be home (and I could get to two new stadiums on one trip), but the topper was that I have cousins in the area who were going to be in town and meet me for the Giants game. It was absolutely great to see them since it had probably been about 10 years since I’d seen Melissa (in the black shirt) and about four years since I had seen Sara (red shirt). Plus, I got to meet Sara’s little one, and my second cousin for the first time. All in all, San Francisco was a really great trip.

And as if going to St. Louis and San Francisco wasn’t enough travel for the year, I also traveled with a number of my classmates to the annual American Academy of Optometry conference in Chicago. I really enjoyed the conference and went to some really interesting talks on contact lenses and ocular disease. I generally agree with what many people around the college say, in that the Academy meeting is really some of the best continuing education out there available for optometrists. Many of the presentations are really cutting edge in the field and incorporate significant clinical research to support new treatments and standards of care.

“99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer…”

While the conference itself was great, the trip home was an experience to say the least. The crew I was traveling with all decided to fly to Chicago even though it’s about a six-hour drive because flights were pretty cheap and convenient for when we wanted to travel. Basically the short story is that our return flight on Saturday night got cancelled because of weather. And while this is all occurring, we were exploring the Museum of Science and Industry and loving it because we’re all science nerds at heart. But with our scheduled flight to Columbus being the last one of the day, we were stuck. We had already checked out of our hotel, so we had no place to stay that night and many of us had plans for things we needed to do on Sunday in Columbus. And then in the process of looking at alternatives, we didn’t have time to make any other flights going out in the afternoon and didn’t want to be on the 8 a.m. flight to Columbus on Sunday morning. So while one person in our group was seeing if we could be re-routed and another figuring out if we could get refunded for our tickets, I threw the idea out of renting a car and just driving it back. Ultimately we were able to get all our flights refunded and rent a car for a lovely six-hour drive back to Ohio. Needless to say, the whole experience was a little hectic, but it all worked out in the end and it’s good we all like each other so we could withstand being stuffed in a car together for more than six hours.

Besides all the traveling, rotations changed back in early November. I’m currently enjoying the relative warmth of North Carolina at my Veterans Affairs rotation and really appreciating not having to deal with the snow. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a born and raised Ohioan, but the cold and snow does wear on you after a while. Regardless, most of the first month being down here involved getting used to the pace and flow of the VA. It’s a very different atmosphere than being at the school or other optometry sites around Columbus. The pace is much quicker and the complexity of some of the patients is daunting at first. But overall I think I’ve been learning a lot that will help me for years to come. So while the VA has been challenging, it’s been very rewarding too. It’s not every day you get the opportunity to provide eye care and a difference to veterans who served in World War II as well as many other conflicts throughout the history of America. It’s a unique and humbling experience to serve those who served us.

In other school-related news, I have now completed all the other parts of boards in the last month. January will be a bit of a make-or-break month as I will find out my scores for both part II and part III. But right now, it’s just a waiting game.

It’s hard to think that next time I write a post it will be 2018 and the year I graduate. It’s a bit surreal how quickly it’s coming and yet how far off it still feels. Either way, I hope everyone who reads this has a wonderful holiday season and a great start to the new year. See you in 2018!