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!