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.”