Archive for January, 2015
Before I got into optometry school, I felt like time passed by me slowly. It wasn’t until I was sitting in my black robe and a gold tassel hanging on my head that I realized how fast undergraduate had flown by. However, with every semester that passes at NECO, I feel the sands of time slipping through my hands. Part of me is so relieved after every final to be able to breathe again, but another part of me is just dumbfounded by how fast the semester goes! I’m not sure where I’ll end up after graduation, but one thing’s certain: I really want to enjoy my time in Boston and NECO! Whenever I reflect on what has happened through a semester, only bits and pieces pop through and it makes me nostalgic for all the moments I wasn’t able to truly savor. So for this wrap up of 2014, I hope to share a few small tidbits that have lingered with me this semester.
We had a great guest speaker event given by Mr. Tom Sullivan at the end of October. He is an inspirational speaker in every sense of the word. Having been blind since infancy due to Retinopathy of Prematurity and a former student at Boston’s Perkins School for the Blind, Mr. Sullivan spoke of the trials and tribulations of growing up. He was bullied and making friends was difficult…until someone gave him a chance. A story of how a next door neighbor who saw past his disability and changed his life with the simply gesture of asking to play baseball showed how easy it was to make an impact on a person and the two remain best friends today. It reminded me of how important it was to focus on those close to you, especially through stress and hardship (like studying for 6 midterms/finals in one week, eek!). Through those times, I am grateful for technological advances, such as Skype and G-chat, as I have definitely counted on my family and friends back home for support. But as part of the “Y-generation” many of us are under constant social media and solitary influence that sometimes it is easy to lose sight of the importance of actual inter-personal relationships. Not only is this a crucial skill as future doctors, I believe it’s an important aspect of staying grounded. Through this semester, there have been numerous times that patients have come into clinic for their eye exam, but have ended up sharing so much more of their life. Part of being a future doctor is realizing the trust patients give and the vulnerability they present by allowing us a glimpse into their lives. I already miss my clinic site because it provided an absolute connection to patients that were often lost on me during the busy hours of studying. Listening to Mr. Sullivan speak simply reinforced the importance of maintaining empathy and a simple humanism through everything I do, both as a student and a doctor in the future.
This semester was difficult for me and I stumbled a bit in some aspects, however, I was readily picked up by both my fellow classmates and my gracious professors. The rumors that second year is difficult have rung true for me. It was a challenging semester due to the academic expectations as well as the ongoing battle to further ourselves clinically. The old me would snub at the thought of tutoring or receiving aid because of pride and over-confidence, but it’s truly been one of the best experiences of fall semester. On a graduate school level, it’s not about competing with my fellow classmates or receiving a top grade, but rather about learning and understanding material that is beneficial for the rest of our lives. We are past the stages of memorizing for a grade, only to lose it all after the exam, and we are above holding all-nighters in a grave last minute fight. I was humbled by the dedication of Dr. Hanley (one of my professors for the course: Principles and Practices of Optometry for OD2), who not only held review sessions an hour before class, but also gave her time separately in office hours to help those of us who hungered for more. Principles and Practices of Optometry is one of those classes that you want to have down cold because it’s your future bread and butter.
The amounts of diseases and weird things that can happen to the eyes have truly astounded me this semester! It had me obsessively cleaning my eyelashes as well as ferociously making signs and symptoms disease flashcards. I felt the need to be proactive about my learning this semester because I realized it’s truly to our benefit to have this knowledge, to know this material beyond a grade, and to seek help when we fumble a bit or, even when we’re completely confident, as it never hurts to check your answers. Receiving guidance from professors and upper-year students gave me more confidence in myself as well as made me feel less alone while navigating this increasingly intertwining web of new knowledge. Not to throw in a cheesy Dumbledore quote from Harry Potter to make my point, but… “You will find that help will always be given at Hogwarts (NECO) to those who ask for it.” It’s in these moments that I’m glad I go to a smaller school that is completely focused on optometry, because the attention and care I receive from my professors and classmates is truly unmatched.
As I head into this new semester, I’m looking forward to enhancing my clinical skills at my new clinic site, this time at a private practice, which will be a change! I’m hoping to sneak a few moments for just myself and the great city of Boston, where I can take it its river views and gorgeous skyline. Of course, I’ll have continued group study sessions and weekly reviews with my housemate, where we do simple tasks like looking over pictures from lecture, just to help things really stick in our brains. I know that although second year is a tough one, there are people rooting for me on both sides of the coast. I also know that should I waiver a bit, there is inspiration all around me.