Chairs Missing by Joe, resident at the New England College of Optometry

24Jan/13Off

Winter Is Coming… Winter Is Here…. Winter Is Gone?

It's been awhile since my last post.  When I started writing this, it was mid-November and I had just finished reading the first book of the Game of Thrones series, so I figured the title of this post was fitting.  But then writer's block set in, rotations changed over, Boards Part 2 struck and finally, winter came (figuratively and literally).  In a blink, it's mid-January and it's almost like time is accelerating even faster.  Many things are different and changing.  The end of school is in sight; we are well beyond the halfway point of fourth year, which is pretty crazy. And it seems like winter can't decide whether it's staying or leaving; we've had all of an inch of snow in Boston so far, and since December, we've had alternately a day of twenty degree weather followed by three or four days of mid-fifties each week.  How anyone can deny the existence of global warming is beyond me.  But I digress.

It’s been so long in fact that I took Boards Part 2 and already found out that I passed. Not much to say about the exam itself except that it was straightforward and I found that I studied just the right amount, which incidentally was way less than for Part 1.  Much of the credit needs to go to Dr. Sleight, who teaches the third year Advanced Ocular Disease class.  His class, with its detailed notes on treatment and management, online learning modules with color slides, and its tough but fair exams really prepped us for the material that Part 2 covers.  I am quite grateful.

Thus I have officially passed all three parts with scores that qualify me to practice in any US state. The feeling of relief is fantastic; my era of studying non-stop toward some future huge exam is officially over. (Well, unless of course the whole ABO Board Certification exam thingy catches on nationwide:  a topic for a future post).  My free time can now be used for whatever time wasting activity I feel like, guilt free.  I can go to the gym and run a few extra miles without worry.  I can read fiction for pleasure without the creeping sensation that time should be better spent.  I can watch like 7 classic Simpsons episodes back to back without the fear of falling behind in class work and like this will somehow lead to my flunking out of the program. Basically my anxiety and neurosis is gone and I can have an adult life again!  Awesome!

That, of course, doesn't mean that I don't study.  In fact, I still pick up the books pretty much daily to look up diseases or treatments for things that I see in clinic.  As a fourth year student, you are still expected to think on your feet and do research about things you encounter through the day, whether it's in a journal or textbook.  Your preceptors still hold you responsible for learning; passing fourth year rotations is not a passive process where you can just float through and hope to pass.  But knowing that there is nothing lurking out there in the darkness clears my mind and I feel like I am able to better remember the things I read.  Though health care professionals must truly be perpetual students in a sense and keep up with continuing education and all the latest advances in their field, the "student" life dials down.  I am finally able to see what it will be like to be done as a student and practice in the real world, and that reality is only 4 months away and counting.  Unless of course I chose a different path post-graduation: applying for a position in an optometry residency program....

So I leave on a cliff hanger:  what is residency in optometry?  Is it mandatory or necessary?  If not, is it worth it?  In my next post, I will tackle that question and discuss what I think my choice will be.  Beyond that, in the post after that, I have to talk about my third rotation: clinic in a Boston community health center where exams in English are third in frequency to exams in Spanish and Portuguese.  Spoiler alert:  I love it, and I feel like it’s another thing I could choose to do for the rest of my career.  See you then.

...

As a postscript, I wanted to mention my friend.  I mentioned previously that her son had been fighting an optic glioma. Sadly, he passed in late November.  I can't really put into words how it makes me feel other than to say it sucks and it's terrible.  Many members of the NECO community got to meet him and know his story, and he touched many other lives.  His mom is hanging on and is actually starting her own non-profit to go with her already well trafficked blog.  To those interested in learning more about the blog and non-profit, please email me for details:  socialmedia@neco.edu. Thanks.

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