VisionExpo, Eye Ball, and Saying Goodbye to Third Year

In three weeks, I will be leaving Boston and starting my first rotation of fourth year at a small private practice in Virginia. It’s simultaneously frightening and exhilarating to think that I am not only three-quarters of the way done with optometry school, but also that I am about to transition into full-time clinical care. Thinking about leaving Boston is bittersweet: I’ve loved living here so much, and I hate the thought that I won’t be returning for six months. The city has so much to offer, and leaving my NECO friends will be extremely difficult, but it will also be extremely beneficial for me to explore different modes of practice in environments outside of the city. In the past few weeks I’ve had some amazing times with my NECO family, making the most of what Boston and NECO have to offer before I begin my fourth year externships.

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A few weeks ago, I, along with many of my classmates and first year students, travelled to New York for Vision Expo East. I had never attended the Expo before, and I was interested to learn more about the different products being displayed there, and also to network with students from other optometry schools. Vision Expo offered a formal student program that included presentations about different types of optometry practice as well as different optometric companies. My favorite part of the student program was that we were initially divided into random groups, forcing us to meet students from other schools, and then given a project to complete. My group consisted of myself and three first-year students from MCPHS in Worcester, and we were assigned to gather information from the Expo about developing an electronic medical records program for a hypothetical practice. In order to complete the project, we needed to explore the Expo and speak with representatives from different companies. In the process, we also visited many different vendors’ booths and tried to absorb as much information as we could.

On Saturday, NECO students and faculty celebrated at the traditional 84th annual Eye Ball at the Hyatt Hotel in Boston Harbor. Despite being a rainy day, it was a gorgeous night with delicious food, dancing, and great times with friends. The Eye Ball included a cocktail hour with gorgeous views of Boston Harbor at sunset and a photo booth with fun props, many of which were glasses-related. It was great to see my classmates dressed up and enjoying themselves before many of us leave the city for rotations.

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Now that spring has finally arrived, I’ve also enjoyed spending time outside in the city, particularly enjoying the Esplanade and Public Gardens. Last week was the Boston Marathon, which I was able to watch from Newbury Street, a few blocks from the finish line on Boylston. It was inspirational to see the athletes who have worked so hard to attain their goals, and to also see many members of the National Guard running as well. Perhaps the most heartwarming part of watching the marathon was seeing and participating in the incredibly warm and encouraging reception that the crowds give to each runner, clapping and shouting encouragement for hours to people they have never met. The most incredible thing I witnessed, however, was the athletes who ran while pushing a child or family member with a developmental disorder along with them; the amount of strength and love that this takes is an inspiration to anyone striving towards a goal and an example of the indomitable nature of the human spirit. The reception that these runners and their family members received was thunderous, and well-deserved.

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In conclusion, I’d like to wish my fellow almost-fourth year students good luck on their rotations. I’ll miss everyone and I hope that during this year we all learn a lot about optometry and the direction our careers will take next year.

Boards Are Over and Spring Is Here!

Congratulations, NECO third years! We survived Part I of our National Board Exams and made it through to the traditional post-Boards pub crawl on the other side. We spent months stressing and studying, carrying our Boards books from coffee shop to coffee shop, quizzing each other and preparing ourselves as best as we could. The air of relief around us is tangible; we won’t find out our scores until May, which is both unfortunate and a welcome relief from the Boards anxiety that has been permeating our lives for months.

With the end of Boards comes the end of winter in Boston as well, which I ironically celebrated this week by going to a new frozen bar that opened downtown near Faneuil Hall which features walls, couches, and even glasses made of ice, all enjoyed in 20-degree weather inside mandatory blueberry-colored (and blueberry-shaped) parkas. It feels wonderful to be able to celebrate by enjoying the city, and as it gets warmer Boston becomes more walkable and welcoming, ready to be explored.

The fact that spring semester, and third year with it, will soon draw to a close is bittersweet, especially for someone who has grown to love Boston as much as I have. I’ll be leaving in May for my first summer rotation site in Virginia, and after that my fall site in Maine, meaning that I’ll be away from Boston–and my NECO family–for six months. As excited as I am to be exposed to new practice modes and new areas of the country, I’m also sad to be leaving the city and the people I’ve grown so close to. I’ve decided to spend my last month and a half here taking advantage of the city, as well as working to complete my various third year projects. To ensure that I don’t miss out on any opportunities to enjoy the city in my last full year here, I compiled a post-Boards, pre-rotations bucket list that includes the annual NECO Eye Ball, a formal end-of-the-year dance at a fancy location downtown; running on the Esplanade; finding gems of used books at the city’s many secondhand bookstores and the Boston Public Library’s book sale; and exploring the historical side of Boston on the Freedom Trail.

This weekend, however, I’ll be leaving Boston for New York, where the 2014 International Vision Expo and Conference is being held. I’ll be traveling by bus with many other NECO first, second, and third years to attend the event where we can network with other students, optometrists, and vendors; learn through student education events; and discover new brands and vision-related products. I’m looking forward to learning about the field in a different way than I’m used to by attending my first optometry-related conference, and hopefully enjoy a little of New York City while I’m at it.

Once I’m back from Vision Expo, it’s project time: as I’ve mentioned previously, our class has projects to complete this spring for our Business, Clinical Reasoning, and Refractive Issues classes, parts of two of which are due next week. In the fictional world of my Ophthalmic Business and Management Policy class computer simulation, things are looking up: my group’s hypothetical practice jumped this week from second-to-last in profit to second as a result of our newfound “go big or go home” practice management mentality. My group was glad to see that our strategies paid off, and as we enter the simulation’s final weeks, we hope to increase our lead and improve upon our fictional business success.

I’d like to reiterate my congratulations to the class of 2015 for completing Boards Part 1, and I hope that everyone at NECO is able to enjoy Boston in the upcoming spring weather!