School has officially begun…which means the relaxation and rest that summer brought is now over. As sad as that may be, it is good to get back into the school routine! So far, second year has been good. Getting up every morning at 8AM isn’t all that flattering, but having the privilege of going to clinic once a week makes up for it. As a second year, I go to a clinical site associated with the school for four hours each Thursday. I was assigned Roslindale Eye Clinic, which is associated with New England Eye Institute. There are two other second year students there on Thursdays with me, and we are each assigned to one doctor. I am working with the pediatric doctor, and so far I am loving it! From day one, I was able to set up in the room and perform entrance tests and refraction on the patients! At first I was really nervous. This would be my first time seeing patients (other than during screenings during first year) and I just didn’t want to make a fool out of myself. All three doctors at Roslindale were great, and allowed us each to observe a patient exam before throwing us out there on our own. The first patient was there for a follow up visit. The entire exam went very smoothly (and her glasses that were prescribed to her at her last exam were helping her eyesight significantly). Seeing this patient calmed my nerves a great deal, so I was more than ready to see the next patient who came in.
When I brought the next patient back to the exam room, I initially froze and my nerves came back. I started with a simple case history, and once I got through that, I was fine! I completed entrance tests and got through subjective refraction. I was really excited when the patient could read the 20/20 line after I had finished my refraction, because it was a sign that I was doing something right! The doctor came in shortly after that. I had not been paying attention to the time while I was performing the exam and I took a little bit longer than I should have! I also performed my first dilation. My first thought was “I have only done this once, and it was in lab last year!” I knew that to boost my confidence, I would just have to do it, so I confirmed with the doctor what drops, and how many, to use, and I brought the patient back to the exam room. Luckily for me, the patient was probably the best patient for putting eye drops in, not flinching or resisting at all!
After my first day, clinic has gone smoothly ever since! Each day holds a new and exciting case, and I have learned so much in just the three weeks that I have been working there! This past week, we started learning about common ocular findings associated with various conditions, and at clinic, I was able to apply what I learned when I saw it on the patient.
In addition to learning about ocular conditions, PPO has proven to be very exciting these past couple of weeks, as we have started to use the slit lamp. For any optometry student, the slit lamp is like the machine of all machines. Comprised of just a simple microscope and beam of light, it allows the optometrist to get an up close and personal view of the patient’s eyes, including some of the structures that can’t be observed by just looking at someone. After seeing videos and pictures taken from a slit lamp, all of us second years were really eager to learn how to use the slit lamp on our own. During lab, we each had a chance to look at another student’s eyes behind the lamp and take a peak at some of the various structures in the eye. The first time sitting behind the slit lamp felt like the first time behind the wheel of a car: very overwhelming and somewhat terrifying! Figuring out how to maneuver all of the parts, and creating a smooth flow that would not jerk the patient’s head and chin around was very difficult. After a few minutes, my comfort level increased and I was able to see the patient’s eye through the microscope, and it was one of the coolest things I have seen so far! From looking at the cells of the cornea to the physiological sutures of the lens fibers, I was beyond amazed. It is so different looking at an actual patient than it is just looking at pictures in books and on the internet, and I was super excited!
For now, I will be practicing my slit lamp skills quite frequently, but I will be enjoying every minute of it. I am hoping to use the slit lamp at clinic soon, and I can’t wait to use all of the new things I have learned in an actual patient exam!