2014 at NECO: What’s In and What’s Out

Happy New Year to NECO’s current and future optometrists! To commemorate the shift from 2013 to 2014, and our shifting focus from coursework to what will this summer become full-time clinical assignments, here’s what’s in and what’s out for third years at NECO.

In: Studying comprehensively for Board exams in March
Out: Studying only for specific classes

With Boards only two months away, it’s becoming increasingly urgent to devote time every day to reviewing. Due to the depth and breadth of the material the exam covers, I have been trying to prioritize key subjects and identify my potential weaknesses. It’s hard not to feel a great deal of pressure due to the extremely challenging nature of the exams and the large scope of the material covered, but I’m trying, as I discussed in my last blog entry, to let the pressure and stress motivate me rather than hinder my study efforts. I’ve found it helpful to vary my study strategies as well as locations; I drift from reviewing Boards notes in a coffee shop to studying flashcards in the NECO library to using a Boards review app when I have a few minutes on the T.

Studying for Boards, however, does not mean that we can neglect our current courses; it means that when studying for these courses, we need to look at things comprehensively. Our coursework in Pediatric Optometry, Advanced Ocular Disease, and Solving Complex Refractive Issues is all relevant to material tested on the board exams, and it’s important to find connections between different topics in order to learn the material more thoroughly.

In: Integrating coursework concepts with clinic through Clinical Reasoning projects
Out: Studying separately for classes and clinic

When I see a challenging patient at clinic, or when my preceptor asks me a question that I’m unable to answer, I’ve been taught to then go home and study that concept so that the next time I see it, I don’t make the same mistake. While this is still an important aspect of learning from clinical assignments, this semester we are expected to expand further on the concept of connecting clinic and classes through our Clinical Reasoning course. We have two projects that necessitate critical thinking about patient care as well as coursework: a presentation that will be given to our section of the course and a written paper. Both projects are on the topic of a challenging patient care scenario, or a patient that we have who helps us learn something new. We will analyze every aspect of these patient visits and set up a presentation that enables our class to experience the case along with us and to develop their own diagnoses and set of reasoning for each conclusion. We will then relate knowledge from case studies and research to more fully understand the patients’ conditions.

In: Taking the first steps towards business-conscious careers as optometrists
Out: Thinking that clinical knowledge alone will guarantee career success, and procrastinating taking steps toward job searching

The stakes are being raised in our Ophthalmic Business and Management Policy II course, where we will be learning more about the steps to take in creating and running our own practices. We are being taught to think about what we as optometrists can bring to the table in a practice, and to evaluate our potential as business owners in the future. We will be undertaking long-term projects in this course as well, with small groups creating business plans and running a computer simulation on a hypothetical practice. I’ll discuss this more in future posts as the project begins to take shape, but for now I am realizing more and more how close I am to graduating, and how much I need to learn and prepare in order to develop my resume and find a job.