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!!!

03. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

Almost a year to the day, I sit here and recollect the start of my journey towards earning a doctorate in optometry. In many ways, it was go from the start. At times, in fact, it felt like a roller coaster ride. A long wait in line reminiscent of the lengthy application process. Followed by the excitement of actually sitting down and being strapped in, like attending class and waiting for break time before getting out of our seats. The numerous exams, quizzes, labs and proficiencies added many twists and turns. I never doubted my decision to join the program, but there were times that I felt exhausted. The good news is that those moments were short lived and soon replaced with reaffirming ones. If asked would I do it again, I would reply, “Sure, why not?” After all…it is my chosen path.

The ASIP program was essentially 3 semesters long. We began in the summer term, followed by a winter term, and we just completed the spring term. I have been asked which term I felt was the most difficult. I feel the summer term was most challenging because I not only was getting used to the idea of being a student again, but I also was getting acclimatized to life in the city. The second term passed by quickly as we looked forward to the holidays. I would advise anyone doing this program to make sure you plan a fun escape during the holidays, as I feel this is the best time in the program to recharge your batteries. I traveled to an island destination in search of the sun in the winter months and was pleased I did so.

The spring term was our longest and final one. We had many assignments to do during this term. We were encouraged to expand our research and presentation skills. For the Pediatric Optometry class, we did a group project which answered the question “Why does my child’s pupil look white in pictures?” Besides the ominous finding of retinoblastoma, I found an article which explained how a white pupil can be caused by an optical phenomenon of flash photography. If a child is looking off axis with respect to the camera, they can appear to have a white pupil, which is clinically called a leukocoria. In any case, a white pupil should warrant a comprehensive dilated exam before making a diagnosis.

This past year in Boston has also been eventful. I witnessed a blizzard, earthquake, and terrorist bombing over the course of 12 months. I attended the marathon with such excitement, as it was the first event of this type that I had attended. As tragic as the loss of limbs and lives surrounding the events were, the recovery process was uplifting. Boston to me has always felt like a city that has a suburban feel. The bombings hit home and the community pulled together to get through it. I was fortunate to have been a safe distance away, but it was jolting nonetheless. No one could have predicted that instead of snow days, we would have had days off for disaster recovery. The NECO community all looked out for one another and slowly we resumed our lives as students and residents of this lovely city.

As I wrap up the didactic year and get ready to begin my clinical rotations, I carry forward with me a wealth of knowledge and memories that I have gathered during my time in Boston. Here is looking onwards and upwards towards the final year of the Advanced Standing in Optometry Program!