Summer in Boston feels surreal. Classes and labs are suspended, summer jobs have started, and the absence of studying is a strange, if transient, relief. This will be my only summer at NECO without classes or clinic, and I have been urged strongly to take advantage of it by working, exploring, and experiencing as much of Boston as I can…but at the same time practicing my clinical skills and trying not to forget too much of what I learned this year!
It’s a huge relief to be done with final exams; finals were difficult, but I was also impressed with how they brought my class together. The night before our last final exam, Optics, everyone was extremely stressed but still found time to help teach each other the more difficult concepts. I’ve found there to be a really great sense of community here at NECO; we all recognize how challenging our courses are, but rather than having this separate us, we try to work together so that we all are able to understand the material. When I visited NECO last year for my interview, I remember being told that the competitiveness that many college students are used to finding in courses, especially difficult ones, is not present at NECO, but it’s different to experience that for yourself. When it comes to studying for finals or practicing for a proficiency exam, your classmates are your support system and your resources, not your competition. Everyone recognizes that we are all here for the same reason–to become the best optometrists we can–and this enables us to teach and learn from each other.
After finals ended, I started working at New England Eye, a large eye clinic in Boston that is affiliated with NECO. This summer I’m working as an operations assistant for the New England Eye On-Sight Mobile Clinic, which is a mobile van that provides access to eye care to people in the greater Boston area. So far, I’ve mainly been working at New England Eye organizing data from vision screenings, making follow-up calls to patients, and filing patient information, but this week I was also able to go on a vision screening to screen students for a research project through the Department of Public Health. I’m looking forward to getting to go on the On-Sight van to assist with eye exams in the next few weeks. In addition to working at NEEI, I’m also working as a clinical education assistant at NECO.
This weekend, along with some other NECO students, I’ll be giving vision screenings at the Massachusetts Special Olympics, which should be a really great opportunity. I’m hoping to take advantage of as many screening opportunities as I can this summer, since screenings are a great way to volunteer and also to keep clinical skills sharp over the summer.
Beyond work and screenings, I’m finding that there is really no shortage of things to do in Boston over the summer; I finished my last final exam, Optics, on May 18, and the very next day there was a free outdoor concert on the Esplanade for EarthFest featuring Spin Doctors and Third Eye Blind. In the next few weeks, I’m looking forward to going to my first Red Sox game and taking some time to experience more of the city.