Hello Summer!

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Jun 122014
 

June Blog

Usually I write my blog posts from my bedroom in my apartment, but this one is coming from a bus bringing me back from Maine.  Even though it is not officially summer, the weather definitely feels like it. I came up to Maine this weekend to take care of some wedding planning, and it ended up being a very relaxing weekend. It was so nice to see trees, grass and flowers, as I often forget about these things while living in the city. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy living in the city, but it is nice to get away every now and then!

Now that it is “summer,” third year has officially begun.  It was so exciting to have second year behind us, but third year is proving to be just as busy, if not more.  I am scheduled for four days of clinic, and when I am not in clinic, I am in class or studying.  I’m enjoying going to clinic so often, but it is definitely a big change from our clinic schedule during this past year.  Currently, I am at New England Eye Institute, which I absolutely love.  It is rather close to my apartment, and with this nice weather, I am able to walk there with no problem.  The Doctors are great, and the patients remind me everyday why I want to be an optometrist; they make this job fun!  There is a lot of high tech equipment at this clinic, and I feel like I am learning how to use a new machine every day I am there.  Even though it is just the beginning of third year, I am already feeling like I am able to put together a lot of the things that I learned in the first two years, and I feel as though my confidence increases more and more each week.  We have about 4 more weeks of the summer term left, and I am really excited to continue to build on my clinical skills and work on putting everything together.

In addition to all of this clinic, we had a big week this past week…fourth year rotation selections were due!  This was one of the most daunting decisions I have had to make because there are so many choices.  To put it in a nutshell, we were responsible for picking 3 different sites and ranking all of the sites within the three categories.  It may sound pretty easy, but it was not.  At first, I told myself I would love to go any place on the list, but as I thought more and more about it, I realized that there were other things to take into consideration such as housing, buying a car, etc.  If I were to stay in Boston, I would not have to look for housing, but I may have to look into buying a car, and I don’t really want to drive in Boston.  Well, at least not yet!  If I were to go outside of Boston, I would definitely need a car, and I would have to figure out what to do about housing, and would have to give up my apartment in the city.  I ultimately decided to pick rotations that sounded interesting and sounded like they would give me an overall well-rounded experience that would prepare me for the “real world.”  I am fairly happy with the sites that I chose, and now that the selection process is over, all I have to do is wait and hope for the best!

May 122014
 

We can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel!  Everyone says that second year is the hardest year of optometry school, and I can’t believe that it is coming to an end.  It seems like it was just yesterday when we were returning to school from our summer vacation and getting ready to start a new year.  From clinic to studying and everything in between, second year has proved thus far to keep me on my toes and extremely busy (but I say this in a good way!).  After Spring break in March, it seemed like everything was thrown into high gear and the past couple of weeks flew by.  We had our PPO final (our last one ever), which felt great to put behind us.  Proficiencies were completed and third year summer session clinical sites were assigned.  As I am writing this, I still can’t believe that we only have a few more weeks of school left!

We have been waiting to hear our assignments for summer clinic for awhile, and now that we know, summer feels like it is right around the corner.  I will be at Pine Street Inn for one day a week and at New England Eye for three days a week.  Going from our current load of one afternoon per week of clinic to almost a full week will be interesting, but I am very excited!  We have learned so much this year, and I am eager to finally see it all in action.  I must say that I will miss working at Roslindale, as I was assigned there for my entire second year.  The doctors and staff at Roslindale are great, and it is going to be sad to say goodbye in just a couple of weeks.  I am so grateful to have had such great mentors there, and I can’t wait to use all of the things I learned from them throughout the rest of my career!

In addition to all of this exciting news as the school year comes to an end, this past Friday was NECO’s annual Visionaries day where we celebrate all of the achievements that students have accomplished during the past year.  Guest speakers are invited, and different project competitions are held for the different classes.  As a second year student, there were not any projects this year, but we were still given the opportunity to listen to a wonderful set of guest speakers.  During one of our morning classes, the inventor of the EZ-ID program spoke with us.  The EZ-ID program is an initiative to create license plates that are easier to identify and memorize in the event of an emergency.  Inspired by two child abduction cases, the inventor of this program decided to create a license plate design that incorporates shapes and minimal letters and numbers, so that they can be easily remembered.  The reason that this was brought to NECO’s attention was because they need data regarding the visual science aspect of the project.  And of course, everyone at NECO did not hesitate to help out!  Through the help of faculty and student volunteers, it is NECO’s hope to gather information through small research studies to help provide evidence that these new license plates can really make a difference.  I am extremely excited to be able to help out with this project, and I hope that we can uncover some data that shows great support for this program.

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Feb 192014
 

I can’t believe it is already February.  It feels like it was just yesterday that I was getting off the airplane and heading back to my apartment after a refreshing winter break.  We have had our share of storms so far, and it looks like we may be in the path of another large one in just a few days.  I am not used to having snow days, and I am surprised that we have already had two this school year.  When we were predicted to have a large amount of snow a few weeks ago, school closed early and then closed for the next day.  You know you go to a school where everyone is there because they enjoy it, because as soon as we heard we had a snow day, we were all upset.  Most normal students would be jumping for joy, but we all began to freak out about labs being cancelled and lectures that would be missed.  Of course, NECO did a great job at rescheduling things in a timely manner, and everyone was caught up by the middle of the following week!  As much as I enjoy the snow, I am keeping my fingers crossed that it is the last snow day for a while.

When it has not been snowing and we have been in school, we have managed to learn quite a bit in the short amount of time that we have been back.  We have started to learn how to do BIO, which like the slit lamp, is a very tough, yet exciting technique to learn!  For those of you who may not know what BIO is, it is the technique that the optometrist performs while wearing the goofy contraption on their head.  This contraption has a light source attached to it, and lenses that magnify the view of what the optometrist is seeing.  A lens is used, and when placed over the eye with the light shining through the patient’s pupil, it allows the optometrist to see in the back of the eye.  The first few times using the BIO, it was really hard, and we didn’t really know what we were looking at.  Once we started to get the hang of it though, it was really neat.  It provides a great view of the back of the eye and allows us to see if there are any abnormalities, or even to just appreciate the normal structures within the eye.

We also finally found out what summer session we will be in.  This may not sound that exciting, but as second years, we have been waiting to find this out for a while!  We can finally book travel plans for the summer, and I can stop stressing about having school during my wedding!  Finding out about summer also means that it is almost time to put our final year rotation requests in.  I have been looking forward to this for a while, and I am very excited to learn that there is a rotation site near my hometown, which I hope to be able to go to!  There is also a site on a Navy base which I think would be a really interesting and fun experience.  As of now, we can only make a wish list and research each of the sites, but soon enough it will be time to make out final decisions, and I can’t wait!

Jan 192014
 

Another month has passed, and well, another year has also gone by.  2013 was a very exciting year for me, as it was my first official year fully in optometry school.  As I rang in the New Year, I could not stop reflecting on all of the things that happened in 2013, and how excited I am to see what 2014 will bring.  From becoming settled in Boston and learning the ins and outs of the city, to applying all the things I have learned at NECO in an actual clinic situation, I have realized that I have been a busy girl and I have managed to accomplish quite a lot.  Yes, being busy all of the time due to studying and school work was not always the most exciting or relaxing, but when I look back, it has definitely been worth it.

Specifically reflecting on this past semester, the second year class at NECO has learned a lot.  Personally, after completing my first year at NECO, I felt very accomplished and couldn’t imagine the workload ever becoming greater than what I had experienced so far.  I felt pretty busy while studying for my first year classes, but as soon as I took my first step into second year, I was quickly introduced to a workload that greatly exceeded that of first year.  At first, I felt very overwhelmed and wondered how it would be possible to keep up with all the material, homework and clinic assignments.  After the first couple of weeks went by, I was able to find a study schedule that worked for me, and I actually found that my clinic assignment was a nice way to “get away” from all of the studying and didactic work I was faced with from my classes.  My clinic assignment was at New England Eye Roslindale, and it was one of the best experiences I have had so far at NECO.  And to make it better, I get to stay at Roslindale for the spring semester, and I couldn’t be happier!

I am in NECO’s “TEST” program, which is a program for the second year students.  Through the TEST program, students are assigned to the same clinic location for the entire second year, and are encouraged to apply the skills that they learn in lab to their clinic experience to enhance their overall learning experience.  As I traveled to my first day of clinic, I was very nervous.  I knew that I wouldn’t just be thrown into patient care without any guidance, but I still did not know what exactly to expect!  Two other second year students were scheduled with me at Roslindale, and we all worked together to encourage each other and to practice some of the things that we had learned in class and lab before applying these skills to various patients.  My first day was a success.  The doctor I was working with was a great mentor, and I was able to shadow her on the first day to get my bearings and become familiar with the clinic and the flow of how operations were run.  As I left clinic that day, I couldn’t wait for the next week to pass and to go back for my second week!

Throughout the rest of the semester, I learned a lot from my clinic assignment.  I started off completing patient history and entrance tests and then working with the doctor to come up with an appropriate assessment and plan for each individual patient that we saw.  As the semester progressed, I was able to start refracting my patients and determining what glasses prescription would be best.  When I was taught a new skill in lab, the doctors at clinic did not hesitate to encourage me to use those skills with patients and they were always there to teach me and help me learn new tips and tricks to make the overall patient care experience more efficient and effective for my patients.  By my last week at clinic, I was taking patient history, refracting, and completing the slit lamp examination.  It was really neat to see things that I had been learning about in class and to apply what I had learned by making an effective plan for each individual patient.  When you learn about different diseases and conditions in class and just see pictures projected on the screen, it doesn’t come to life or feel like a reality until you actually see it in person.  Through my clinic experience, many of the things I learned about in class became a reality for me, and the treatments and management of these various conditions have now become engrained in my thought process.  This has made me feel more confident in my patient care skills, and has helped me figure out different ways to study some of these conditions and their respective management so that I remember them and fully understand their etiology and effects on each individual patient.

As I continuously reflect on all of the things I have learned this past year, and even just during this past semester, I sometimes can’t believe how much knowledge I have gathered.  I am looking forward to starting this spring semester, even though this winter vacation has been very relaxing and enjoyable.  I have heard from other students that this semester will be busier than any previous semester, but I am ready for the challenge!  Here’s to 2014, and all of the fun and excitement it may bring!

 

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