As the recovery period from finals is beginning to slow down, and things are starting to return to normal, I can’t help but wonder, “Wow, how is my first year of Optometry school already done with?”  It seems like just yesterday I was moving into my new apartment, finding myself caught up in all of the hustle and bustle of college move in day.  The U-Haul trucks were lining the streets and people were covering the sidewalks (and were accompanied by mattresses, couches, and all sorts of other furniture that eager students were hoping to cram into their small, city apartments).  It was my first time living in a large city and, to be honest, I had no idea what I was getting myself into!

The first day of school was unlike any other “first day” I had experienced.  Everyone was so nice and helpful and we all joked that we felt like we were in Hogwarts from Harry Potter.  We were the innocent “first years” who had no idea where we were and we were overwhelmed by just trying to find our way to our classroom.  Each stairway seemed like a new obstacle (and we were convinced that they would start moving at any moment), with excitement hiding behind each door.  It took me about two full weeks to finally navigate my way through the school without getting lost more than twice a day!

As I look back and reflect on that first day, I realize how much I have learned and have grown since then.  I didn’t know that there were so many opportunities in the eye care field and I had no idea how complicated, yet interesting, the eye really is!  Coming into optometry school with a background in engineering, I was nervous that I would struggle with some of the natural science courses required to learn about the eye.  I had never taken a formal anatomy class and my background in cell biology consisted of one small introductory course.  As soon as the first lecture was over for both of those classes, though, I realized that I was in the right place, and that the professors and fellow students at NECO would make learning anything a possibility.  After week one of classes was over, things began to fly by.  Before I knew it, midterms were here and then a short few weeks later, finals for the first semester were over and I was on Christmas vacation!

After Christmas vacation, second semester jumped into action as fast as first semester did, and it was over with even faster.  Some weeks seemed to go by slowly, with everyone stressing over lab practices and proficiencies, but before we knew it, we were stressing over finals and then celebrating the completion of year one.  I don’t know how it went by so quickly, but I am so happy with how it went.  Before starting optometry school, I would tell people that optometrists were the people who looked at your eyes and gave you glasses or contacts.  Now, if someone were to ask me that same question, I would probably have them sit down as I explained all of the different aspects of optometry to them.  Optometry is not just about prescribing glasses.  And if I had to say what the most important thing that I learned this year was, it would be that optometrists have a very important role in overall healthcare.  From being the first person to possibly detect micro-vascular diseases in a patient, to ruling in or out a potentially life threatening neurological disorder, I have concluded that optometry is one of the coolest and most interesting careers out there.  What is cooler than looking at the only nerve (on a daily basis) in the human body visible without incision?

The list goes on and on.  I have learned so much, but I know there is still so much more to be learned.  This summer I am volunteering in an optometry office in Florida and even though I have only been there for one day, I feel that all of my training from first year has really paid off.  I thought that I would be following/shadowing the techs and doctors during my first week, but as soon as I arrived, they told me to jump right in!  I have been able to start working with patients and to complete their entrance tests right away.  Because I saw many patients during screenings and other opportunities offered to me during my first year, I am very comfortable doing this.  As the summer keeps rolling by, I am sure I will have many more opportunities to work with and learn from these patients as well as the doctors in the office.

 

  2 Responses to “Year One…Check!”

  1. What a great experience you are getting. Good for those doctors who had you jump right in. There is nothing better than hands on when you have been learning something and are getting to put it into practice. Good Job and Good luck.

    • Thank you Amelia! Seeing everything in action really gives everything that I have learned so far a whole new meaning!

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