Next week marks the beginning of my summer semester and the beginning of my third year at NECO. Half of my classmates are finishing their summer session this week with only one or two final exams and their last few days at their summer clinic sites. They will then be able to take a much-deserved summer break while the other half of us third years begin our classes and clinic assignments. From what I understand from my classmates, the tone of our third year at NECO is very different from that of our first and second years. We have drastically increased clinic time, from one day a week to an average of twenty hours per week, and reduced classroom time. During first and second year, we became used to balancing five to seven difficult courses at once, but now we will begin to have fewer mandatory classes and are able to select our own electives as well. We are required to take 2.75 credits of electives during our third year, and classes can be taken either online or in the classroom, and may involve clinical work as well.
I’ve spent my summer break visiting friends and family in Buffalo, and also enjoying what summer in Boston has to offer. One of the great things about studying at NECO is having the advantage of living in an amazing city with a multitude of opportunities for entertainment. You can enjoy the gorgeous warm weather by going for a jog on the Esplanade next to the Charles, or check out a book from the Boston Public Library’s gigantic selection and read on the Boston Common with a picnic. You can catch an outdoor concert on the waterfront, kayak on the river, or watch the sailboats from the Mass Ave bridge. You can take advantage of the city’s walkability and make a day of walking to the North End, South End, or the harbor. Overall, Boston is an incredible town for students.
Although I’ve had an amazing time enjoying my summer, I’m also really looking forward to starting my third year. It feels simultaneously amazing and daunting to be halfway done with optometry school; I’ve enjoyed my time here at NECO so much that I’ll be sad to leave in only two years, but at the same time I’m excited to be only two years away from being a practicing optometrist. Third year will introduce new challenges, and I expect to learn a lot more about patient care, interacting with patients, how to hone my clinical skills, and diagnosing and treating different ocular conditions that I may not have encountered previously. I am also hoping to gain more exposure to patients with ocular diseases like glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration so that I can be more confident treating patients with those conditions in the future. A great advantage of attending NECO is the large number and diversity of clinic sites around the city; each third year will be able to experience at least three different sites, if not more, and hopefully learn about different aspects of optometry through each of them.