It’s been cold and snowy here in Boston the past few weeks, which makes me, hailing from Buffalo, feel right at home. It’s also February, a little over a month away from Part 1 of our Board exams, which means that the stress of the class of 2015 is at an all-time high. We have all become very good friends with our Boards review books and will continue to spend a lot of time with them until the exam on March 18. The winter weather provides more motivation to stay inside with our books and a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, and it’s important to stay motivated with the exam rapidly approaching. Variety in studying is key, as is keeping in mind study goals and a timeline for review. Studying will definitely be more of a challenge during midterms week; although our course load is much lighter than usual this semester, it’s always difficult to balance studying several different things simultaneously.
Of course, we can’t study all the time–we still manage to have fun at school events like casino-themed Alcon Night, which helps raise money for VOSH (Volunteering Optometric Services to Humanity), and work on coursework like our Business computer simulations and Clinical Reasoning presentations.
I gave my patient presentation to my Clinical Reasoning class last week, the presentation being the first of two projects we will be doing this semester for that course. The presentations are structured as learning experiences; we present the steps of an eye exam as we performed them and the information as we learned it, and the class discusses what they think the differential diagnoses are for the patient; what conditions can be ruled out as the exam progresses; and what they think the treatment plan for the patient should be. We then discuss our patient’s condition in general: risk factors, signs, symptoms, and treatment, and compare our patient experience to the expected.
The patient I discussed had multiple sclerosis and presented at the clinic with a variety of symptoms that lead me to believe that her MS was causing optic neuritis, a very important warning sign we as optometrists will need to be on the lookout for. Since many patients with MS first present with vision problems at the optometrist, it’s crucial that we understand the disease as students. Although my patient’s vision problems thankfully did not mean that her MS had progressed to affect her eyes, it was a good learning experience for me because it showed the importance of identifying probable differential diagnoses, but also being open to the fact that a patient’s diagnosis isn’t always what you expect it to be. It also gave me an opportunity to research and learn more about multiple sclerosis so that in the future I will be able to better understand the symptoms and signs to watch for in my patients. Other students in my class presented patients with conditions like amblyopia and blepharitis, and their presentations gave us a chance to review key topics related to those conditions and learn more about patient diagnosis and care.