Living with Uncertainty

Here we are, in the midst of COVID-19. I would have never imagined in my wildest dreams such a scenario.

Us students are currently living day to day, just waiting for another email, another GroupMe message, another glimpse of hope that we’ll see a patient again soon. It certainly does not help that our national boards were also cancelled. We are now playing another waiting game- on the lookout for an email from the NBEO about when we can re-schedule part 1 of our boards.

It’s been the name of the game recently: Wait & See. It’s certainly not a game I’m very fond of, nor has it been easy. Each email, text message or phone call in which someone tells me they “understand” or they “sympathize” has grown old, like a monotonous alarm clock that awakens me to yet another deja vu type groundhog day. You see, no one can quite understand the stress that has been thrust upon us students, especially my fellow 4th years.

We were supposed to be celebrating being done with part 1 of boards with a glorious diplopia week. We were supposed to be on our way to the next adventure in our career, externs! We were supposed to be seeing hundreds of patients during our time at our extern sites. Yet here we are, doing our part to stay home and stay safe. I am proud of us. We radiate hopefulness, strength, and brilliance.

I am proud of our resiliency during these times, but I am saddened (to say the least) by the missed opportunities. I want everyone to remain safe and healthy, but now as states begin to reopen, I am eager to return to patient care. There is such a fine balance during these insane times between staying safe, while also continuing to support the economy and have people maintain a steady stream of income. The balance is out of control, much like how our lives currently feel.

So, to my fellow 4th years: I know you’re sick of hearing “we’ll get through this.” Instead, I will tell you that we will succeed. We won’t just “get through” this harsh reality. We will demolish boards, we will give phenomenal patient care, and we will thrive in our new environments on externs. I have faith in us, which is about the only thing that keeps pushing me forward when I have no motivation.

So don’t let anyone tell you they “understand” what you’re going through. Each battle is unique to the individual. Just know I’m cheering for each of you. I cannot wait to properly celebrate our accomplishments together. Until then, keep on succeeding, my friends.

“It’s a beautiful day to save*vision”

Many of you may have heard of the quote, “It’s a beautiful day to save lives.” The quote comes to us from the extremely popular television series, Grey’s Anatomy, spoken by the neurosurgeon on the show, Dr. Derek Shepherd.

I like to change that phrase to, “It’s a beautiful day to save *vision” because that’s exactly what optometry is all about. It’s about saving vision, patient care, and being a lifelong learner.

It’s hard to believe we’re already into the fall semester of 3rd year. The years are flying by, to be quite honest. We’re third years– on a journey this year to see a multitude of patients, put our clinical skills to the test, use all of the knowledge we’ve acquired over the past couple of years, and be the best clinicians possible.

When I first said the words “I’m a third year” aloud, a smile came across my face. It feels like the dream of becoming an optometrist is finally coming to fruition. I know the semesters will still be challenging, and we still have boards to take, and more exams to pass, but we are as some people call it “half a doctor.”

So what does 3rd year have to offer? For us, 3rd year began this summer. A packed schedule of various classes, clinics, and to top it all off at the end – keystone. The summer semester was certainly rigorous, but we definitely made time for sunshine and adventure. I truly believe each year gets “easier” as they say here at OSU optometry. Each year is never “easy,” but the path twists and turns less, and the dream feels more attainable.

During summer semester, the university seems to breathe a sigh of relief as the undergrads leave campus and fewer students are around. It’s actually quite nice in terms of traffic, using facilities such as the gym, study spots, etc. The summer was filled with many challenges, especially in the form of 7:30AM classes, getting our exams in clinic more efficient and “cutting our time down,” and balancing seeing family and friends – not to mention those family vacations some of us had to miss due to exams or clinic schedules. We definitely make a lot of sacrifices here in optometry school, but I like to think they’re all very well worth it.

Then came along fall semester of 3rd year. It certainly hit us fast- we’re still 3rd years, we still have clinic, but now it’s time to register for part 1 of boards AND rank each of our extern sites. What a whirlwind. I think that’s a common theme for optometry school- life passes by in a whirlwind. So don’t forget to blink. Savor each moment. And remember- “it’s a beautiful day to save *vision…” and be a 3rd year.


“Calendar Days”

“These days are as good as gold…”

Another blog, another reference to a favorite song of mine (by a band called Knuckle Puck of course… yes go ahead and giggle at their name), but it’s quite applicable.

It seems like just yesterday we were sitting in Fry 22 for 8 hours + nearly every day of the week… Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s pretty darn close. It’s hard to believe that the first semester of second year is nearly over! To be honest, we’re all very ready for our last 3 week Christmas break/freedom because starting third year, we’ll be in clinic!

So far, second year has taught us a lot about each other and ourselves. It’s taught us how to take a practical, how to problem solve during a practical, how to keep our cool (or what to do when we’re not) during a practical, and how to become “expert” test takers. Do you notice a common theme this year? PRACTICALS. Just when we started to get more used to the rigorous exams of optometry school, they threw another curve ball at us, but it was not something we couldn’t handle with loads of practice and effort. Being in pre-clinic has finally allowed us to feel like clinicians and become one step closer to our dream jobs. From tonometry (taking eye pressures) to dilating and viewing the retina, we’ve all had those, “NO WAY! This is so cool!” moments when we get our first glimpse of those various landmarks and anatomical structures. Of course we’ve seen them in textbooks and through the teaching tubes on the slit lamps, but when you actually perform a skill yourself, it’s incredible.

So what else has happened other than exams and practicals? Well… Let’s talk about Academy! 

What an amazing experience! This year, the American Academy of Optometry was held in San Antonio, Texas. Having personally never visited the grand ‘ol state of Texas, I was excited for this opportunity not only in optometry, but also in traveling. It felt good to step away from our iPads and studies to see what other folks in our field were up to. It also amazed me at what myself and my fellow second years were able to comprehend. Listening to these well-educated and esteemed O.D.s lecture on topics from transient vision loss, convergence insufficiency, anterior segment diseases, and much more, I was astounded at how much we were able to follow. Don’t get me wrong, some of the research was still above my head, but OSU has truly prepared us well for both clinical and research based knowledge.

Academy also had much more to offer, such as looking at scleral lens fittings, trying out the latest Johnson and Johnson contacts, learning about the new transition contact lenses, automatic phoropters, networking, etc. The companies, free T-shirts and whatnot were wonderful, but probably one of my favorite experiences was getting to mingle with students in different levels of their optometric education. Conversing with first years, third years, and some fourth years was great. I’ll have to admit though, getting to hangout with our professors outside the classroom was probably even more engaging and entertaining. Sometimes you don’t realize that the people teaching you are more than just the ones handing you exams and watching you during practicals. They’re people too, of course. To simply hangout, kick back, and be outside of the classroom with them and not just discussing school content really embodies the family element of OSU optometry. Speaking of family, our very own buckeyes won the Essilor Academic Challenge at Academy! Congrats fam! This was the first year this event occurred, and the buckeyes came to win. Our entire optometric family came to support them during this pseudo quiz bowl/academic games, including all of the professors and students at Academy. It made me proud to see that OSU really does prepare you for anything- not just clinical or boards- but even for fun challenges like the one held at Academy.

So a word of advice– go to Academy! Network, explore, learn the latest and greatest in research, hangout with your professors, and do something out of your comfort zone because the calendar days are flying, and “these days are as good as gold.”


Class of 2021 with our very own, Dr. Pierce.

Everything is Copacetic

copacetic (kōpəˈsedik) adjective 1. in excellent order.

This has to be one of my all-time favorite words. Probably because it’s tied to one of my favorite songs, but also because of the meaning and how it sounds.

When is ANYTHING ever in perfect order? Okay maybe things like filing cabinets, the Dewey Decimal System, etc., but what about in life? Is life ever in “perfect order?” If it is for you, well then congrats. For most of us, life is trying to take things day by day because there are simply “not enough hours in a day.” However, what if we really took the time to enjoy, cherish, succeed, work hard, and prosper during those hours? Well even if you do, I don’t think everything will still be in perfect order. There are simply things we cannot control, and I think that’s a huge part of life, especially in optometry or any grad/med school. We cannot control everything. We cannot control what happens during a proficiency, an exam, for dinner, other people, etc. We can study, work hard, put in the hours, make that yummy food, and do our best to be kind to those around us, but things will always come up. Life has a funny way of giving you exactly what you need at the right time, even amongst the mess, craziness, business, and allll of those extra plans you didn’t get done yet.

This year, I’m still learning to take the time to relax. I’m still learning to focus on my best, because even though we’re all adults here, I’ll be blatantly honest, there are still people that love to toot their own horn. I’m a firm believer in humility goes a long way, and I think grad school is a humbling experience for everyone, but not everyone let’s you know that. This all leads me back to copacetic. Does everyone truly feel like their school life, social life, health, etc. are in perfect order? I’m going to go with no. Will people make you feel like they have it all together- absolutely. But let me let you in on a secret, life is perfect for no one. So block out the people who only share their success and not their struggles or failures. I think everyone comes across that sometimes, but the best moments are when you struggle together, and help one another become better clinicians, better learners, better teachers, etc.. I’m blessed to still be getting to know the people that are working to be better. Sixty-seven students [I believe] are in my class. Sixty-seven people from all different walks of life with dreams to become optometrists, and here we are, growing together. So let’s keep growing, working, learning, succeeding, struggling, and all the things in between.

I’m proud to be a buckeye. Our program is rigorous. It’s no wonder our lives are not copacetic. School is hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it. I’m blessed to be where I am today, and when I look back at the journey, it’s amazing to look at the progress of not just myself, but my peers. Take a look around, acknowledge the people that have been working super hard. Congratulate someone on a job well done with a proficiency skill or a new skill learned. Our class is family, and families lift one another up. So let’s keep pushing, lifting, and strengthening each other because I’m proud to stand among my peers who I know will make amazing clinicians one day.

Optometry is an intense profession, and anyone who tells you otherwise… well they’re crazy. So while everything may not always be copacetic because of the craziness of opt school, it’s always a beautiful day to save eyes and lives [as Dr. Shepard once said in Grey’s Anatomy].


Which is better, (opt) 1 or (opt) 2?

How am I already an Opt II? It seems like just yesterday I was struggling through 1st year classes, learning how to drive around Columbus, making new friends, and learning how to live a whole new lifestyle.

I will say a summer off was much needed. First year took a lot out of all of us. I think one of the best things about first year is the transformation we all see in one another. There’s an amazing growth we all experience, not just in academics, but in who we are as people, future clinicians, friends, loved ones, etc. We grow because of all the new experiences and people we encounter.

Starting off second year, I was nervous that my summer had lead me to forget a lot of the information I learned first year… But how could I forget spherical equivalents, blepharospasms, taking visual acuities, etc. I’m truly amazed at how much information myself and everyone else has retained. I’m also grateful for my education here at OSU. Our school and its professors and doctors have an incredible ability to educate and turn students into the future’s best clinicians.

Thus far, second year has been great for many reasons, the #1 reason being that we get to practice being real optometrists and learn clinical procedures! Wearing our white coats so often and dressing in clinic attire feels so awesome. Being in pre-clinic makes us realize that we are indeed closer to being optometrists (don’t worry first years, it gets better). Some of the most satisfying moments are when you watch a clinical technique being performed (for example, getting your corneal beam in focus on the slit lamp), and then you are able to perform that task with success multiple times. I’ll admit that I gasped a little when I saw the corneal epithelium (thank goodness we’re all optometry nerds here). I digress…

This year has a different feel to it already, and while I’m nervous for all the practicals, I’m ecstatic to see where this year takes me and to experience more growth alongside all of my wonderful peers. Class of 2021, we’re off to a great start. Just remember, eyes on the prize (pun intended). 

“White looks good on you”

Well class of 2021,  we did it!!! I know I myself, our professors, our parents, loved ones, friends, etc. could not be more proud. Looking back on this year, it’s honestly amazing to see all of the knowledge we’ve acquired, the milestones we’ve marked, the friendships we’ve made, and so much more.

Now as I sit at home, I quite frankly literally do not know what to do with all of this free time. In fact, I even asked some of my friends, “what is free time and how do you use it?” (joking… kind of). It’s also a blessing to just sit and look back at this year.

Personally, this was the most challenging year I have experienced thus far in my 23 years of life. From being the farthest I’ve ever been from home (yes, it’s only a mere 3 hours, but my undergrad was 1 hour away), missing my friends from undergrad, no longer being a college athlete, new professors, new city, new friends, new living arrangements, new EVERYTHING — I was overwhelmed to say the least. I did adjust to city life and to school, but it took a lot longer than I would have liked. I like to think I’m decent with change, but when your “world” was once the confines of the area of Pittsburgh, PA to New Wilmington (Amish country), PA, things seem to get a little challenging. I was no longer a drive from home, a walk away from all my best friends on Westminster College’s campus, or a short walk to the pool or bio labs where I spent nearly all of my time. Everything seemed to be a 20 minute drive or walk away in Columbus. And don’t get me started on parking in Columbus… HOWEVER, though it sounds like I had a lot of complaints, which I did, I still adjusted. I still succeeded. I found my friends, the people I vibe well with. I found the places I like to study, the coffee shops I like to frequent, and the freedom that comes with being in a new place. There’s so much to explore in Columbus, and once I got my footing, I was able to run a little faster, and explore a little more. The city is a really cool place with a lot to offer. Not to mention the amazing food (I’m definitely a “foodie”). So here I am at home, grateful for this whole year. Never would I ever have imagined the challenges I would face this year, especially academically, but I came out swinging nonetheless. I am so proud of my classmates and myself for all we have accomplished this year. It’s truly inexplainable, unless you care to take a few hours to sit with us and listen to all the new big words we’ve learned.

Topping the year off with our white coat ceremony was just what the doctor ordered. The ceremony was funny, exhilarating, high energy, emotional, and a whirlwind of other feelings. Putting on that coat (shoutout to Dr. Earley for helping me with mine) was a beautiful moment. It made me feel like all of my hard work was for something, and that being a doctor really is within my reach. You see, unlike most schools that just give their students the coat at the beginning of the year, we must earn ours. With every hour spent in class or studying, with the time we must dedicate to our classes instead of talking to friends or making time for ourselves, we earned our coats through hours upon hours (what seemed like 1 eternity later..) of grueling work both inside and outside of the classroom. Optometry school is no joke. It’s not just a year or 2. It’s 4 years of learning how to give the best care possible to our patients. It’s learning not only the science, but the patient-doctor dialogue/interaction. It’s learning to make mistakes and listen to others. It’s learning that you’re no longer the best of the best because you’re at school where everyone came from being “the best/top of their class”. It’s learning to be humble, kind, and compassionate. It’s 4 years in which we grow into the best doctors possible from the encouragement and support of all those around us. 1 year down, 3 to go.

I am extremely grateful for this summer off, and I know it is much deserved and needed. However, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to use all the fancy new equipment we got this year. Here’s to a blessed year, and more to come.

It’s the Final Countdown!

Where has the time gone?! It seems like just yesterday we were all anxiously awaiting our first day of classes, or perhaps awkwardly introducing ourselves to a plethora of people, classmates, professors, upperclassmen, etc.

All I know is that I’m pretty grateful that what they say is the hardest year of almost any graduate/medical program is almost coming to a close! I think I’m most grateful & excited because like my classmates, I am SO ready for white coat ceremony. It feels amazing to know we have earned that white coat. We’ve put in countless upon countless hours of class, lab, studying, review sessions, etc. Perhaps that is why time has flown!

This second semester, in my opinion, has been better than first since we have a grip on what needs to be done to succeed. We’ve all found what studying techniques work for us, we’ve explored more of Columbus, found those study spots that don’t get old, found the people we love to vibe & study with, we’ve found our (stem cell) niche… I had to throw that nerdy pun in there.

Second semester has still been full of challenges! From exams being more difficult, different material, being in clinic, and ordering our hefty amount of equipment, life has not slowed down! However, I have realized more and more the importance of taking time for yourself. It may seem that all your classmates ever do is study (and for some, that’s true), and you may try to do the same because if you don’t, you feel like something is “wrong.” This whole feeling is something I have completely learned to overcome. Whether it’s taking time to workout, go to my new favorite bakery, Cherbourg in Bexley (shout out to Kristen for the suggestion), watch some Netflix, take a walk, walk around Target, meal prep, these are all CRITICAL to survival. Life is hard, but it’s the little things that help so much!

Something else I have learned from second semester is the importance of more advocacy for Optometry. I have encountered a myriad of people who have almost no clue what our profession entails. From family members, to nurses at the doctors office, to friends, it’s been a fun and interesting task trying to educate the public. I feel as if I have a few new catchphrases such as, “Optometrists are doctors too!” or “No, we don’t go to school for a year or two, it’s four years, plus more for residency!” or one of my favorites, “We’re not just here to ask you which is better, 1 or 2?”. My passion has grown even further for the profession, and I feel so blessed & grateful to be at The Ohio State University. So here’s to the final countdown, our last free summer, becoming real doctors, making an impact, and pursuing the dream. Proud to be a buckeye! Proud to be a future optometrist!

Second Semester Showdown

It’s seems like just yesterday we were on break, snuggled up at home or maybe laying on a beach with family members… Yet, now we find ourselves back in the swing of things, living our fast paced lives, ready (or not because here it comes…) for second semester of our first year!

Walking again into Fry for the first time after break was rather refreshing once I got to see the friends I missed and listen to the stories of their winter breaks. Reconnecting before we jumped into classes was just what the doctor ordered. However, it didn’t take long for professors to hand us work, lecture for 3 hours straight, or for us to be asked if we’re “sleepy already?!”. But that’s okay!

As second semester is well underway, it’s filled with slight more relaxation since we have the first semester under out belts. It feels satisfying and reassuring to know we have made it one step further to our degree. Though the journey is long, there’s always an adventure around the corner… Speaking of adventure, it’s pledge week for those of us joining Epsilon Psi Epsilon, and I could not think of a better way to jump back into school than with some fun on the side. ΕΨΕ is the only optometry fraternity in the nation, and we are so lucky to have it here at The Ohio State College of Optometry! ΕΨΕ is a phenomenal way to connect with more peers, especially those you don’t sit with during class, and it’s even more wonderful to get to know some of the upperclassmen better.

It may feel like all we do is study, but ΕΨΕ gives us the opportunity to take a step back and interact with those who we share the profession with. It allows us to grow in camaraderie and show a little more of our buckeye spirit!

Most of all, I think each of us is especially looking forward to the white coat ceremony. Our sizes have been taken, embroidery has been ordered, and we are ready to feel like true up-and-coming optometrists, especially since we’ve had our first taste of clinic! Though most of us were nervous, with the help and patience of our attendings and 3rd year students, we were pleasantly surprised at the enjoyment and learning opportunities presented to us.

So bring it on second semester! OptI’s are ready for you!

Just See How Far We’ve Come

Time is everything.

Yet somehow it seems that time has flown by in the blink of an eye during our first semester of Opt School here at OSU. For many, we are grateful to have completed one of the most stressful semesters we have ever experienced. For some, time may be moving too quickly. However, I am certain a collective sigh of relief was echoed after exiting Fry for the final moment of the first semester for us Opt I’s.

So what exactly have we learned within this first semester? That’s quite a hefty question, but I definitely have some ideas.

We’ve learned that sleep is vitally important. Some of us have taken this to heart and gotten nearly 8 hours every night. Others have stayed up till 3 a.m. attempting to shove the last pieces of ocular anatomy or pathophysiology into their overworked and tired brains.

We’ve learned that we are at an institution that truly cares about us. From office hours, to joking with professors, to interacting with our amazing upperclassmen, we are certainly well taken care of. Shout out to the second years who brought us all those sweet treats before our General Anatomy skull practical!

We’ve learned that we must rely on each other to get through both the “easy” and the seemingly insurmountable days. Without our peers we would be nothing. Without the friendships we have solidified, the time spent studying (and definitely laughing/goofing off), and the memories made with those we spend countless hours with, we would be nowhere. Personally, it is my classmates that push me even harder, challenge me to know more and be better, and make me a happier student. I am so grateful for each of them.

We’ve learned what it’s like to fall short and keep moving forward…I think this is a really important point. We all come from such great schools, we are all very much “type A”, and we all love to succeed. However, this is not an easy task for anyone, and we would be crazy to think that Optometry school was going to be a walk in the park. There are always bumps along any journey, some more eye opening than others, but in the end, we just keep moving forward.


Last, but certainly not least, we have learned that the dream is very much alive because we have made it to the end of our very first semester! Just typing those words makes me feel phenomenal. Though we have a long way to go, I like to think we’ve come a long way, and I’m thrilled to see where our paths lead. Cheers to the end of first semester, and to the beginning of a new year!


Too blessed to be stressed

It’s no secret that grad school, medical school, optometry school, and just about any professional school involves a hefty amount of work, which, of course, induces stress. Why go through all of this stress you may ask? Well, for some, school comes naturally, for others, it’s the dream of helping others, and for many, it’s all about following the dream.

I’ve dreamt of the day I would sit in my respective Optometry school’s classrooms, but never did I imagine to be so fortunate as to attend THE Ohio State University. The name definitely holds a profound amount of prestige, and as I make my way through exploring the campus and all that Columbus has to offer, I find myself realizing that I am indeed too blessed to be stressed.

Optometry school has been my dream since high school. When I attended some of my very first freshmen biology courses in undergrad, I wondered if that dream would remain possible. I should know better than to even doubt myself minutely, because giving up is not in my nature. I think that’s something everyone in the class of 2021 has in common; we’re no quitters, and we fought to get here. Our perseverance is alive in well as we trek every day to Fry 22.

We are too blessed to be stressed because no matter how many exams are thrown at us, how many hours of labs we attend, how many mistakes we make, how much money is spent on tuition, we have made it to a point in life that not many people get to partake in. We are in the process of becoming the future primary care providers of vision, and that is a privilege. We are endowed with so much knowledge (sometimes so much that we feel our brains might leak onto the table right there in front of us). We hold the future in our hands. It’s not all about the grades, the numbers, or the person who already knows how to work a slit lamp or a Fundus camera. It’s about the journey, and I am so excited to continue this journey with the class of 2021.