Proficiencies, Finals, and the Taste of Summer: Last Blog of the Semester

I’m having a hard time comprehending that my first year of optometry school is already almost over. It seems like such a short time ago that I arrived at the NECO Welcome Back Barbecue, excited to begin my journey to becoming an optometrist but nervous about the fact that I had no idea how to do something as simple as take a patient’s visual acuity since I had never even worked at an optometrist’s office before. I didn’t know what to expect from my classes or my new classmates, or whether I would feel completely out of my league since my experience as a writing major in college hadn’t exactly emphasized eye care or vision science. What I found at NECO was so much more than I anticipated; beyond being a school, NECO is a community. As students, we’re able to perform screenings within a few months of starting classes, but not before we’re ready; classes are challenging, but the support system created by the college and my classmates helps to mitigate the pressure. I’ve gone from feeling completely out of my element in the pre-clinic bays to passing my second proficiency exam on Monday, which included performing entrance tests, retinoscopy, a refraction, and contact lens insertion and removal.

In some ways I didn’t anticipate the difficulty of completing my first year of optometry school, but I also didn’t anticipate ending the year feeling I had accomplished as much as I have. I feel like I’ve learned so much about the depth of knowledge there is to explore in optometry, from optics to eye disease to treatments to patient care. I’ve learned information that I will be able to apply as a clinician in the future, but I’ve also learned about how to interact with patients not only in class but through screenings at elementary schools, where I’ve screened children from ages three to fourteen; through working with my age-related macular degeneration patient for clinical reasoning; and even by inserting and removing soft and hard lenses into my contacts-wary boyfriend’s eyes. I’ve gained more confidence as both a student and clinician, and I’m looking forward to the additional experience I will gain in my next few years at NECO.

I’ll be staying in Boston this summer, working through NECO and hoping to find some opportunities to go on screenings. Also, because I love to make lists, I’ve also come up with a lot of things I’d like to accomplish this summer: start learning Spanish, take a trip to Cape Cod, visit my family and friends, explore some new areas of Boston, kayak on the Charles, and practice techniques at school so I don’t get rusty. I also love to read, which can be difficult during the semester since I have so much to read and study for classes, and this summer I’d like to try to make a dent in my reading list. A few people have recommended I read Susan R. Barry’s Fixing My Gaze due to my interest in strabismus and vision therapy, and right now that’s number one on my list.

I’ll be back blogging next year, but until then, have a great summer and wish me luck on finals!