20. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

May 14, 2014, was a day I thought perhaps I would hear fireworks or applauds, but no such sound reached my ears. In my mind, a stopwatch of sorts did ring to mark the end of the journey that I set out on 2 years ago. If anything, that last day of being an optometry student passed by rather uneventfully. Although it was a Wednesday, it felt like a Friday with a very long weekend ahead. On the last day of my final clinical rotation, I felt rather nostalgic about all that had passed before my eyes and ears during the two year accelerated program. I started the day with the same excitement I had when I saw my first patient as an optometry student. When I finished the exam of the last patient of that day, I felt myself not wanting to let go. As the patient left my exam room, I recall mumbling to myself that you are my last patient. And then, I heard the stopwatch go off in my head. That was it, the end!

It has been a wonderful journey. Not an easy journey by any means, but nonetheless an important one. If asked would I do it again, unequivocally I would respond yes. After all, the sacrifices that I have made to complete this program will in return give me the opportunity to continue working within my chosen profession of optometry. During the course of the didactic and then clinical portion of my studies, I acquired a solid knowledge base and became clinically competent and confident to practice optometry in the USA. In the United Kingdom, I worked as an optometrist. With my soon to be bestowed title of doctor of optometry, I feel I have attained a life long dream and can continue doing the work that I am passionate about.

During these past 2 years, I have been fortunate to work with and be mentored by some amazing individuals. This extends to the patient populations that I have served. Most recently, in my VA rotation, it was an honor to serve those that served our country. I will endeavor to carry forward the knowledge that I have acquired from the clinical pearls shared by my teachers, as well as those learned in each patient encounter. One of the most valuable lessons was that success in an eye exam is not merely about getting someone to see 20/20 or views out to the ora serrata, it is about connecting with people and accepting the fact that they are entrusting you with one of their precious senses, their eyes. With this in mind, I feel I have done my part of attaining the highest degree in my chosen profession. I feel the Advanced Standing in Optometry Program was robust and helped me achieve my goal of becoming a doctor of optometry.

In the next few days, I will travel to Boston to walk up that aisle to receive my diploma. All the way, I will remind myself that this is not the end, it is merely the beginning of a lifetime that I will dedicate to my chosen profession of optometry!

08. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

Each of the above mentioned “Done” statements relates to the successful completion of the 3 steps of the National Board of Optometry exams. The ‘Almost Done’ pertains to graduation. It is an understatement to say I breathed a sigh of relief when I found out at each step that I passed. As many of you reading this may have experienced, you just never really know how you did with those type of exams. I prepared to the best of my ability for each of the exams, but there was still a part of me that felt like it was not enough. I would say Parts 1 and 2 were a bit more predictable as far as, you get as much out as you put in. As I have stated in previous blogs, I would highly recommend signing up for an exam preparation course. Part 2 of the exam is done online at a test center nearest to wherever in the USA that you happen to be located. Given the online nature of Part 2 of the exam, I would advise getting a prep course like Optoprep, which is structured in a case based manner. This helps with becoming familiar with efficiently reading cases and answering questions that relate to the case.

Part 3 is a clinical skills based exam. In theory, this is the bread and butter of our profession. This is the chance to showcase all those techniques you have been fine tuning over the course of your optometric studies. I have a few bits of advice you should consider when approaching Part 3:

1. Register to take the exam at a time where you will be seeing the most volume of patients. The routine exam is called ‘routine’ because it is precisely that. The basics of that exam and the repetition with which you perform the skills helps with the preparation for the clinical skills part of the board exam. If you know you will be at a VA setting, you can be fairly certain you will be presented with opportunities to do gonioscopy and the like on a regular basis.

2. Plan your travel dates/route well in advance. What should have been a one hour direct flight from Philadelphia to North Carolina turned into a 14 hour journey. I had booked the exam a few weeks in advance, but did not take into account the possibility of snowstorms and how it might impact my journey. My flight was cancelled and the new flight was delayed and then rerouted. By the time I reached North Carolina, I felt I needed a day to recover from the long journey. Unfortunately, I only had a few hours to rest and then perform my best. Luckily, I was able to get into the groove and make it happen. However, it took a lot of will power to get through that exam.

3. Visit the NBEO website for information on the particulars of the exam and then memorize what is required in each station. The exam center is well equipped and has a brief summary of what skills are expected at each station. Having said that, when the clock is ticking, it is best to have the flow in your head. No doubt, things may not go as smoothly as you have rehearsed in the weeks leading up to the exam, but how you deal with the situation is more important than what actually goes wrong. So, keep your calm throughout and you will be fine. To date, I have never heard of anyone not walking out of the exam center alive. Preparing to the best of your ability will help allay some of the performance anxiety which is natural to experience in a clinical skills exam.

Now onto the “Almost Done,” which as I mentioned pertains to graduation. Ah, what a joy to prepare for a celebration and not another test! The best advice I can give about preparing for this day is to book a hotel room well in advance. A few months in advance does not seem adequate. For example, I happened to do a search four months in advance of the May graduation and there was no availability for a room in a 20 mile radius of Boston. As crazy as it may sound, I would suggest booking a year in advance to ensure you get the location and hotel that you want. The hotel I chose to book was the very same one that I stayed at when I came to Boston for my admissions interview. My stay there for graduation will be special for that very reason, along with the fact that my friends and family will be accompanying me on this final leg of the journey to being “Done.”

19. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

Do not worry, no PG or R ratings are required for this post. The title was inspired by one of the shows that I like to watch, called Taste. In it, aspiring chefs are asked to create dishes that could be considered guilty pleasures. The winner dished up homemade fried chicken along with macaroni and cheese. Two guilt laden delicacies on one plate guaranteed a win. When contemplating what to write for this blog, I decided to focus on my guilty pleasures. I want to convey how they have evolved over the years, as I have gone from being a “Professional Student” to now, soon to be part of the adult workforce.

As I approach the final turn of this journey towards achieving a doctorate in optometry, I cannot help but reflect upon my life as “professional student.” This term is mainly used to describe a student majoring in what are considered the professional degrees. The slang of the term refers to a student who stays in school for many years rather than embarking on a career. In either case, the term professional student carries with it the connotation of someone who has dedicated much of their life to being a student. Yeah, that sounds like me.  After having spent years as a student, it got me thinking about what my guilty pleasures have been thus far in this journey. The following list is in no way exhaustive, but I wanted to share a few of my guilty pleasures with you. You being my non-judgmental audience, of course :)

1.  Sleep! As a student, I managed to schedule in time for a short nap between classes. Even if it meant dozing off in the lecture hall for a few minutes, I felt entitled to take a mental break and never felt guilty about it. Now that I am on clinical rotations, this is no longer an option. In fact, if I even get a half hour to grab a quick lunch it is considered an indulgence.

2. Chocolate! I made it a tradition to eat a Snickers bar before every exam or proficiency, even if it began at 8am! The quick energy boost was my justification for eating chocolate at random times of day. While on the subject of chocolate, might I add that the chocolate chip muffins at Paulo’s cafe in NECO are simply divine!

3. Cereal for dinner! On a student’s budget, a bowl of cereal with milk became a staple part of my diet. Yes, cereal is not just for breakfast. I try and stick to the wholegrain cereals, but on occasion I mix in a sugary Fruit Loop type cereal. Hey, we all have been told that the more colorful your plate looks, the more nutrients you are taking in. There has to be some truth to this beyond vegetables!

4.  Fast food! As a student, I often felt like eating fast food was justified, given the fact that we had very little time to cook when we were supposed to be studying. As I have transitioned to a ‘working hours’ type schedule in my rotations, I have tried to substitute this guilty pleasure with cooking homemade snacks and meals. Even something as simple as homemade grilled cheese gives that feeling of a guilty pleasure while still satisfying that fast food craving.

5.  Coffee and the disproportionate amount of my monthly living expenses that I spent on it. Looking back, I should have bought shares in Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts. Seriously, as students, it is almost a necessity to buy and consume large amounts of coffee. Now that I am approaching the end of my student days, I have invested in a Keurig to get me through my rotations. I bought an insulated travel coffee mug and I take it with me to clinic. No more time to run out and grab a quick coffee between classes — in clinic there are patients to see and assessments/plans to write.

6. Facebook! Being a professional student has required me to ‘write off’ the last few years of my social life. In exchange for this sacrifice, a quick check into Facebook to see what was going on in the outside world became a guilty pleasure. I did not allow myself to get sucked into social media for the most part. But now that classes are behind me, I have time to actually read, post, and respond to my friends’ posts. And more importantly, I do not feel guilty for taking time out to make those bonds again.

7. Shopping! During my time at NECO, I always felt that I had to buy “sensible” shoes. Getting to class and clinic, via the T or walking the streets of Boston, required the donning of comfy shoes. Anytime I dared look at a pair of ‘girly’ shoes, I had to remind myself that they would not be a wise investment given the limited wear I would get out of them. Now that I am in my rotations and have rediscovered my social life, I am shopping guilt-free for shoes to hit the town with!

On this note, it is interesting to mention that as a student, my wardrobe consisted of jeans, fleeces and t-shirts. It was a guilty pleasure to surf the net during my study breaks and shop for the latest fashions, whether they were for class, clinic or going out. Very quickly the time came to start building a wardrobe of clinic attire. Even for those of you in your first year, I would advise to start building that clinic wardrobe. Perhaps it is not entirely a guilty pleasure. However, it is forward thinking and heck, it is fun to shop for grown up clothes, too.

These were just a few of my guilty pleasures. I feel as if I am evolving in terms of making the transition out of student life and into the real world. I am certainly looking forward to experiencing more guilt-free indulgences along the way!

 

 

08. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

When I began this journey towards earning a doctorate in optometry, I never thought there would be a time when I would have to evaluate 60 patients in one day! Part 2 of the board exam can be likened to just that. It is officially called ‘Patient Assessment and Management.’ Over the course of the day, you are faced with 60 cases with a number of assessment/management questions that follow. By the end of the exam after having to think so much, my brain literally felt like it was going to pop out. But having said that, it was a good challenge.

For anyone reading this and who is due to take the exam, please do not worry. By the time you get around to taking the exam, you will have dealt with a fair number of patient encounters through your clinical rotations. In my opinion, it is through these real life cases that you truly learn about assessment and management. My best advice would be to be an active learner during your clinical rotations.The data gathering part of the eye exam should be fairly cemented by this point. The challenging and fun part is to interpret that data and come up with an assessment and plan. So it is not enough to just show up for clinic — really challenge yourself. If there is a tough case, step up to the plate and take it on. Your preceptors and support staff are there to help you, so there is nothing to be afraid of. Ask your preceptors questions and start making a mental database of cases and how best to manage them. I also found the format used in the KMK and Optoprep courses both helpful in my preparation for the exam.

The following are a few tidbits of advice you may find helpful if you are going to take the exam. Visit the NBEO website for particulars regarding the test content and what you are required to bring on the test day.The actual exam is offered at test centers throughout the USA. Map out and even do a test drive/visit to the site. Many of these test centers are tucked away in buildings that are not obvious. The last thing you want to do on the exam day is get lost. The test centers are very strict. No watches or bracelets can be worn. I had a bad cough on the day and was told I had to unwrap my cough drops and put them in a tissue.There is a 45 minute break in between the morning and afternoon session. Essentially, the clock keeps running and if you do not return to the computer, the exam will have already started. My advice would be to pack a power lunch. Something you can quickly eat in the test center. Ever since high school, I have a tradition whereby I eat a Snickers bar, right before an exam. I have always regarded Snickers as the original boost before all the fancy energy bars hit the market. So, I was sure to bring along a Snickers bar as part of my halftime snack.

Lastly, definitely get a good night’s sleep. It is very much a thinking exam and being well rested is essential. Hopefully you will find some of these tips helpful when you set out to manage 60 patients in one day!

For me, it is now time to step back from the books for a bit and enjoy this wonderful time of year. Warm holiday wishes to you all!!

14. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

Gotta love that one extra hour of sleep we gain this time of year. Our first patient, at the current hospital site that I am at, is scheduled for 7:30 am. You can imagine how excited I was to have that extra hour in the morning. So far, it has meant I have a bit of leisurely time to grab a cup of coffee on my way to work. I am beginning to personify the Dunkin’ Donut’s slogan, “America runs on Dunkin’.” There is one nearby the hospital and there is nothing like a good cup of joe to start the day off. As an aside, I recently learned that the Providence metropolitan area has more Dunkin’ Donut shops per capita than any other region in the Untied States. Go figure, Boston came in second!

I certainly feel like things are moving forward through this year of clinical rotations. My time in Providence and working at the veteran’s hospital has been an adventure. It has been an honor to serve the men and women who have served their country well. On a daily basis, I expand my knowledge/skillls relating to eye disease/management. In addition, I learn something new from the life stories/adventures that my patients share with me. Part of the beauty of rotating to different sites is the opportunity to learn from different patient populations. This allows for a diverse experience which we can carry forward into our own personal and professional lives.

Discovering a new place is the other appealing aspect of rotating clinics every 3 months. When I moved to Providence, I knew very little of what the city had to offer. I must admit, the first few weeks were very challenging. I have lived in various countries, but somehow the combination of moving to a new place under the guise of a student intern was an adjustment. After living in the heart of Boston for the past 1.5 years, I became accustomed to taking public transport or walking wherever I needed to go. So naturally, it took time to adjust to navigating my way around in a car. I always felt like I had a good sense of direction, but that has not stopped me from getting lost on a daily basis. This is despite having a trusted car navigation system. Nonetheless, this has in no way stopped me from exploring the local area.

During my time in Rhode Island thus far, I have been able to go sailing in Newport, visit the local beaches, and attend various artistic events. I attended a local event called the WaterFire. A canal runs through the downtown area of Providence and within the canal they burn small fires. There is a Venice type feeling to the event. I would highly recommend it to anyone wishing to experience a bit of the city while strolling along the canal. The night I went to the WaterFire, there was also a delightful open air performance of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” performed by Brown University students.

On Halloween day, I went to the local zoo, which had 5,000 beautifully carved pumpkins on display. I had never seen anything like it before. It was a testament to the artistic nature of this charming city. Besides local artistic events like these, I think it is fair to say, you cannot find a bad meal in this city. It is rightfully known as one of America’s best cities for foodies!

Here is to making the last few weeks of my stay here in Providence memorable, for all the right reasons, as I set out to spring forward into my next rotation!

04. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

I am currently in the second of four clinical rotations in the lead up to graduation in May 2014. Last year, I recall waiting anxiously to find out where I would be placed for these rotations. I believe the current third year class will be finding out in about 2 months. For any of you who fall into this category or for the current second years pondering the prospect of sites to include in your shortlist, I will provide my thoughts regarding the matter.

In my experience, the end result of the process was great. This is while bearing in mind, I had to make my selections two weeks after beginning the program. For those of you in the four year program, imagine being asked during your first year to choose which sites you want for your final year! Naturally, I had very little idea of which were the popular and which were the not so sought after sites. I asked around and did a bit of homework regarding the sites myself and made my final selections.

We are fortunate as NECO students that our school requires us to fulfill at least one VA hospital site. I recently met optometry students from other schools and they will not get to experience working in a VA hospital during their clinical year. As is well known within the optometry community, the exposure to disease and management that students come across at the VA is second to none. I was fortunate to land VA sites for two out of the four rotations. Some students cringe at the thought of this, but if you stop to think….it is in our own best interest to put ourselves in challenging roles as students. If you go for the ‘easy sites,’ you may risk not developing your clinical skill set or at the very least you may find yourself getting bored of doing routine exams.

Besides the VA, we were allowed to choose from specialty categories. I would advise choosing something you know you truly like and if you are not sure then choose the more broad based ones. Do your homework and ask around. Your predecessors will be happy to give their input and with the NECO email system, everyone is easily contactable. If you have an interest in contact lenses, low vision, or pediatrics, make sure you rank them high on your selections. I have an interest in contact lenses and was fortunate to get a site near home in NJ.

Another important thing to consider is the housing situation. The prospect of moving around for all four rotations sounds exciting, but moving is not fun every 3 months. Think about the logistics of moving and be prepared to board a plane, train, or automobile with your retinoscope and clinic bag in hand. Many sites require students to travel from one office to another, so ask and be absolutely sure of the situation.

In the end, I truly believe something good can be found in each clinical experience. Part is what you are presented wit,h and the rest is what you make of it. Have faith in the process and keep an open mind with whatever you are presented with.

Good luck and enjoy!

09. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

One of my first blog entries was about making a ‘nest.’ Well, the time has come to pack up and move upwards and onwards…or in my case, geographically downwards from Boston to Providence, Rhode Island. I must admit, I did not know where Providence was located exactly on the map and only had a vague idea of the location of Rhode Island as a whole. For those that are not aware, Rhode Island is the smallest state in the USA. If anyone wins Jeopardy with this tidbit of knowledge, I expect a share of the winnings. Back on topic, Providence is roughly 50 miles south west of Boston. Providence is the capital and most populated city within Rhode Island and the third largest city in the New England region. No wonder Providence is considered part of the “not willing to travel” category when we made our rotation choices. Having said that, it is a good one hour commute and so I decided to make the move down.

I felt sad moving out of my little ‘nest’ in Boston, but at the same time I was excited to discover new lands and experiences. I am grateful for having a loving mother who came up from New Jersey to help me with the move. I managed to fit most of my things into 4 suitcases and a compact car. I managed to secure housing through a friend of a friend type situation. I am settling into my new home and slowly embracing living in a part of the city where I have to drive everywhere. I do miss living a few blocks from Trader Joe’s in Boston. What I do not miss is carrying bags full of groceries home. I also miss the T system, but definitely do not miss the bus system. For the 15 months that I lived in Boston, I did not drive a car and I managed wonderfully. Driving places has become a novelty now that I have become reunited with my car. Pumping gas on the other hand seems a chore. Growing up in New Jersey, I was spoiled by not having to pump my own gas.

So far, I have managed to visit a bit of downtown Providence and the Brown University area. The famous Thayer Street made for an enjoyable stroll and I even managed to find an old fashioned one screen movie theater. Providence is known for some good eats. In 2012, Travel & Leisure Magazine listed Providence as the #1 city to go to get a delicious meal, beating out the likes of New York, New Orleans, Chicago, and Portland. There is a renowned culinary school here. I am hoping to take a 3 hour cooking class taught by instructors who have trained celebrity chefs. There is also a culinary arts museum which looks like a fun place to spend an afternoon. I am sure there is much more to discover about Providence and I look forward to doing just that over the next 3 months. I will report my discoveries in future posts. For now, off I go to get ready for clinic tomorrow!

19. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

Yes, preparing for the boards at times felt like rehearsing for a performance. In so much as there was a mounting energy in the lead up to the exam. Naturally, there was performance anxiety and all that goes with that as well. The preparation involved was nothing short of rehearsing the script for a monologue and imagining how it would unfold. I carefully committed to memory facts that I had formed into story lines in my mind. For example, I made associations between each drug and diagnosis to a family member or friend. I dare not reveal who was assigned which diagnosis. It was an amusing way to condense all of the information.

The Advanced Standing (ASIP) students along with the AODP students take the boards in August rather than the usual sitting in March. This is due to our heavy course load during the March session. Nonetheless, as we began our final year rotations, we juggled working full time at clinic with studying in the evenings and weekends. Anyone reading this who has worked full time, 10 hour days knows it is not easy to come home and crack open the books. I was fortunate to be working in a community health center, where I came across near enough every clinical scenario that could have been presented in the board exam. It helped me relate demographics to the diagnosis and treatment of real life cases. I say this in reflection, but at the time I wished we had a month off to just study. In retrospect, that would not have been ideal. These types of exams seem to test broad based knowledge and so one of the best ways to prepare for them is to get used to the idea of working a case up from start to finish. This includes having a working list of demographics, differential diagnosis, treatment, follow up, and a good understanding of what other clinical tests need to be done.

In the leadup to the boards, I made the commitment to invest my time, mental energy, and money into preparing for the exam. I purchased the KMK course and would highly recommend it to anyone who would like a review of key points learned in the didactic portion of our optometric studies. My knowledge base grew exponentially and I have no doubt that beyond the board exam, having completed the KMK course enriched my clinical skills and decision making. I found their online resources and mobile accessible flashcards indispensable. Whether I was on the subway or standing in a check-out line, I had my phone in hand and tested myself with the flashcards. For the month leading up to the exam, I endeavored to complete both parts of the KMK book. They also had online video lectures that further condensed the information.

I was fortunate to find a great study buddy with whom I spent the summer evenings and weekends pounding away at the books. We both came to realize that we were preparing for a marathon-like exam, which consisted of 500 questions spread over 14 hours. A few days before the exam, we would wake up and even eat our lunch around the same time that we would be expected to do so on exam day. By doing so, we literally trained our mind and body to be alert at those times.

I should have bought shares in Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks, given the amount of coffee that I consumed in the leadup to the exam. I even self induced a myokemia…which is an involuntary lid twitch secondary to excessive intake of caffeine, lack of sleep, or high stress. All of which could have been the explanation in my case. For anyone that is interested in learning, myokemia is an involuntary lid twitch of the orbicularis muscle of one eye vs blepharospasm, which is a twitch of the orbicularis, corrugator, and procerus muscles of both eyes. Treatment of myokemia is pallative with AT or just simply to remove the stimulus. I am happy to report my myokemia subsided a few days after the exam.

In the end, it was a test of endurance as well as knowledge. I am pleased to put it behind me. Here’s to looking onwards and upwards to my next optometric adventure.

02. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

As part of my first clinical rotation, we have a journal club every Tuesday. We are encouraged to independently review journal articles and then present them in a coherent and clinically relevant way to our colleagues. In addition, we also present case studies that highlight what we have or could potentially encounter in our clinical setting.

So far it has been a useful exercise. We manage to fit it into our busy clinic schedule by presenting the topics during our lunch break. Although at first it seemed like a heavy task, it has turned out to provide a quick refresher of important clinical information and scenarios. It is not a bad tradeoff to once a week forgo sitting around during lunchtime and talking non-optometry talk. After all, this is a ‘clinical year’ and so we should seek out opportunities to challenge ourselves by analyzing and applying clinically relevant information. I like the concept of “Evidence Based Medicine” and so this is our chance to seek it out in an optometry related way. So far we have had presentations on the Collaborative Longitudinal Evaluation of Keratoconus (CLEK) Study, AREDS study, Central Serous Retinopathy presentations, and Cataracts Classification reviews. The following are some of the case studies that were presented: Acute onset painless red eye, filamentary keratitis, hypertensive retinopathy, and visually significant cataract. All of the case studies were presented in a way that was supported with current literature on the natural outcome of the diseases as well as management recommendations.

During my studies at NECO, I had a public health class which prepared me to look at research and interpret results such as p values, sensitivity, and specificity, incidence, prevalence, mortality, etc. It all seemed very confusing at first but quickly made sense. In order to evaluate findings and their clinical significance, it is important to have an understating of such terms. I recently reviewed the Optic Neuritis Treatment trial. The study began in 1988, but the patients were followed up with many years later, with some of the final outcomes measured in 2008 as part of the Longitudinal Optic Neuritis Study. Although this trial took place a long time ago, the results are still referenced when managing patients who present with optic neuritis. It is important for us as clinicians to keep up to date on the latest treatment protocols for any disease and so an understanding of historical studies such as these are vital.

I often reflect upon what I learned during the didactic year and what I came away with wanting to apply in my professional life. An appreciation for “Evidenced Based Medicine” and the desire to seek it out is something that I gained during my studies at NECO and Iook forward to retaining.

On a tastier note, the other highlight of the past month was an ice cream pot luck we had at clinic. We had a great spread of various flavored ice creams and toppings. My personal contribution was Mint Chocolate Chip (the green artificially colored, but oh so satisfying one). There were waffle cones and the toppings consisted of: caramel, chocolate chips, chocolate syrup, sprinkles, strawberries, Oreo cookie crumble, and glazed cherries. It was a sweet and refreshing treat for all to enjoy while juggling the busy clinic day.

03. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

With our final final exams all done and dusted, it is time to begin our final year. This year is essentially clinical rotations. My first rotation is at a health center in Boston, followed by 2 VA hospitals and 1 contact lens speciality practice. This combination will give me varied experiences of clinical optometry and even give me a chance to expand my area of interest, which is in contact lenses.

We began our rotations one day after finishing the final exams. There was not much time to reflect upon the experience, but I made an attempt to do so in my last blog. Memorial Day weekend came perfectly timed for us to have a short break. I was lucky to be able to travel home and see my friends and family, not to mention to partake in a few BBQs. With a renewed sense of self and a few extra calories later, I was set to come back to Boston.

I still find the pace of things surreal. Just a few weeks ago, we were taking tests on concepts like how to perform binocular vision exams, vision therapy, and ocular disease management and now here we are applying it to real life cases. So far, my clinic assignment has been fast paced, but I am enjoying learning at an exponential rate.

I am at a clinic in which the patient population predominately speaks Spanish. I studied Spanish while in high school, but have never had an opportunity to speak it on a daily basis since then. So far, I have managed to do the basic test in Spanish. Fortunately, we have a translator who is there is help out with the more complex cases. I find it fascinating how a bunch of letters, numbers, or pictures on a chart can be universally understood. This is where the unspoken language of optometry comes into practice. For the most part, we rely on our objective findings of retinoscopy and dilated fundus exams to give us a good understanding of a patient’s ocular health. Communication is an important concept related to the practice of optometry, but it is nice that it is not always vital. It is inevitable that there will be times where a reliable subjective exam cannot be performed, such as the case when examining young children. It is at these times that our objective testing skills come into practice.

Similar to the first term of the didactic year, I am finding the first rotation to be a time of transitions. Leaving my student schedule of sleep, class, study behind…I am adopting a working schedule…and have realized getting into a routine of sleeping and eating well is essential to help the workday pass. This means I have to organize my lunch/snacks as we do not have the luxury of a cafeteria in the health center. Once I finish clinic for the day, I am usually exhausted…but I need to start preparing for our board exams which will be in August. It will take some time, but I have no doubt things will get easier once I get into a daily routine.

As far as the summer, I want to take moments to enjoy the Boston summer. So far, we have had a few hot days. I managed to walk from Back Bay to Haymarket, where I discovered a market full of fresh fruit and vegetables that would suit any student’s budget. With my newly acquired monthly T pass, I did not feel guilty for taking the T back with my bounty of fruits/veggies. These rations should last me a week, as I become more and more creative with the lunches I take into clinic.

It is going to be a great summer…here is looking forward to rotation # 1, hot days of summer, good eats, and studying for the boards. Bring it on!!!