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.