It feels like it’s been forever since my last post. The end of February and the month of March have been busy to say the least, but nothing to complain about. We survived midterms, and surprisingly did not have any significant snowstorms to disturb our tests! Spring break was a nice time to relax after our exams, but as soon as school started back up, we were in full gear (and I kind of regret not preparing more during break)! Proficiencies, our last PPO proficiencies, started last week, and you could just feel the stress when you walked into lab. Everyone in the first week did very well, and the second half of the class is scheduled to go this week. As a class, we are excited to get these tests behind us, but at the same time we are all excited to show our preceptors all of the things that we have learned in our first two years at NECO. Right now, while practicing, it kind of seems like we are taking everything for granted, as we just go through the techniques like they are second nature. A year ago, I didn’t even know what a slit lamp was, never mind how to use it to look into a patient’s eyes! We have come so far in the last two years, and sometimes it is really hard to believe. This semester’s proficiency includes using the slit lamp to look at the cornea, gonioscopy to look at the patient’s angle, tonometry to read the pressure within the patient’s eye, and viewing the fundus with both a 90D lens and a BIO. When we were first introduced to these techniques, no one knew how we would ever be able to master them, but as we are currently practicing in pre-clinic, they are becoming more second nature as we speak. With that said, we are all still intimidated by BIO, as it is one of those skills that you aquire only with a lot of practice. When you do get a good view of the patient’s fundus, it is very rewarding, but it requires a lot of practice to get a good view consistently.
Aside from proficiencies, we have a lot of other things going on this Spring. The week following PPO proficiencies, we have our contact lens proficiencies, and the following week we have our PPO final exam. Right now, everyone is very stressed, but we are taking it one day at a time, and we know that we will get through it. We were introduced to the selection process for fourth year rotation sites, and even though that in itself is quite stressful, it has been kind of fun looking up all of the different sites and trying to decide where I might want to go! There are sites all over the US, and I think I want to use this as an opportunity to travel and see some new places that I have not seen before. Some of the sites that I am interested in are in very neat parts of the country (and they are located in warm areas, which I will not complain about after this year’s winter). We are required to do one rotation in Boston at a community health clinic, one at a VA hospital, one specialty rotation and one elective. We are given the option to choose for the last three categories, and we will be placed in any one of the Boston community health clinics. I have had a fun time looking at all of the locations in the last three categories and it is almost overwhelming to see how many choices we have. I am very interested in doing one of my rotations at the Naval Base in Norfolk, VA. I did a community analysis project on the Navy last year for our vision health care class, and I had such a fun time talking with Navy optometrists and became really interested in what they do. This past weekend, all of the preceptors from fourth year rotation sites came to NECO for a preceptor conference, and I got to meet with the preceptor from the Naval base. After hearing about all of the neat things she has done in her career, including traveling around the world, and preparing sailors for deployments and specific career related activities, I was hooked. The clinic that she currently works at sounds like it will provide a great opportunity to learn more about the optometry field, and I think I will gain a lot if I get the chance to do one of my rotations there! As for the other rotations, I am still trying to decide if I want to travel or if I want to stay local. There are a lot of sites in Florida which may be nice, and many of them specialize in different areas, which would be an awesome experience for me to be involved in. Hopefully by the time I post my next blog, I will have a better idea of where I may want to go, and I will write all about it!