Month four of residency feels somehow significantly different from months one through three. I know I’ve said before that each time I start to feel comfortable, residency continues to challenge me, and this past month, that seems to be even more the case. The level of complexity of my cases has increased dramatically. I feel a new level of confidence in taking responsibility for my patients. One thing I really didn’t feel comfortable with upon starting the program was coming up with my own treatment and management plans: I found myself always reliant on my preceptor’s input. Now, I find myself much more easily determining when I need to see my patients again and why, and what we need to do for treatment in the meantime.
Part of this, I feel, has stemmed from my recent return from the American Academy of Optometry meeting, which was held a couple of weeks ago in Seattle. The Academy is the large research branch of optometry in the United States that attracts optometrists from across the world for the latest updates on research, clinical advancements and optometric knowledge in all areas of the profession: glaucoma, retina, diabetes, nutrition, low vision, contact lenses, pediatrics, binocular vision, public health and so much more! I attended this meeting for the first time two years ago when it was held in Boston and, at that time, was completely in awe of all that was being presented. While some of the classes seemed to be right at my level, there was so much information to soak up!
This time around, while there were plenty of lectures that presented information in a new way for me or highlighted things I hadn’t thought about in awhile, there were a fair number that claimed to present “new” information on a topic but turned out to be status quo in my mind. Meaning, having just graduated from NECO, something that’s a “hot new topic” to someone who has been practicing for 20 years is much different than something I would use those terms for. That being said, I’ve come back from the meeting more confident in my knowledge base, but also inspired to continue expanding it and ever more ready to learn.
While out in Seattle, I got to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in awhile now living all over the country, post-graduation. Those in my class, most of us doing our residencies, really seem to have grown a lot since graduation as we take on the role of doctor and let this carry out into our lives outside the exam room. I was so proud to see friends from the class ahead of me at NECO, who are now four months out of their residencies, all doing extremely well, having found positions that allow them to use the skills in their areas of expertise that they’d honed during the past year. It was inspiring to see residency really paying off in terms of the opportunities it has opened up for so many of us NECO grads!