It’s eight o’clock on a Saturday and the students shuffle back in… Faint music plays in the distance, teasingly rapping on the NECO classroom window. “All right class, time to continue with ocular disease” the instructor calls to reclaim our attention. Such is the fate of us third-years, as we work our way through the mountain of material comprising the KMK Optometry Board review. This optional six-day course offered by KMK Education Services is designed to prepare us for the NBEO (National Board of Examiners in Optometry) Part I exam awaiting us in the spring of 2015. Those exciting weekend adventures in Boston? They seem to be a thing of the past.
Just two weeks ago my friend Jen and I found ourselves on a plane bound for Las Vegas to attend the annual International Vision Expo West. This meeting and conference serves as a forum for providers of optometric services and vendors of optometric equipment and products to exchange information on the latest techniques, eyewear, and practice management tools. As the new VP of NECO’s Private Practice Club, I was fortunate to receive a stipend generously provided by the International Vision Expo Student fund, which is funded by The Vision Council in conjunction with Reed Exhibitions.
Armed with registrations, floor plans and schedules, Jen and I were determined to make the most of our two-day visit to the Expo. Upon landing at McCarran International Airport, we immediately drove to the famous Strip in order to make it in time to explore the exhibit floors of the Sands Convention Center. With a quick pit stop at the renowned “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, we hurried to our hotel, changed into business clothes, and headed over to the convention.
No sooner did we traverse the gates to Vision Expo West, than we entered a world of designer frames and high-tech equipment that we had heretofore only glimpsed in magazines. First, we received a private tutor session on the new “Google Glass” technology. This amazing high-tech gadget attaches to the upper corner of your frames and instantly transforms you into a futuristic cyborg. Among its impressive list of functions, the little smart-phone-like device takes pictures, serves as a personal GPS and even plays music and sends messages. Later we headed upstairs to the exclusive suites where the top frame companies entertained their elite clientele. Event though we were only students, a salesman of the FreudenHaus eyewear company kindly took the time to explain to us the “art of frame purchasing”. But isn’t that the optician’s job? Even though frame purchasing is often left to the optician, it is important for the future optometrist to know how to purchase and display the correct assortment of frames. The frame displays not only reflect the style of a practice, but are frequently the first objects a client sees upon entering the office.
Laura and Jen test the Google Glass technology.
Afterwards, Jen and I made our way over to the “ODs on Facebook Party” where we ended up winning iheart music festival tickets. Well, we didn’t actually win them, but some friendly, young ODs were nice enough to give us their tickets after winning a dance-off and being unable to attend. I guess “Lady Luck” smiled on us that night. After indulging in some Iggy Azalea and Train, we spent the next day participating in optometry-related learning activities with students from other optometry schools. We began with lectures on helpful networking tips presented by experts in the field. Later the students divided into groups pretending to start their own optometry practice. The teams were tasked with identifying relevant exhibitors and querying them on what equipment to buy, how to implement budgeting tools and other business-related requirements. By afternoon, the students had not only developed impressive, well-thought-out business plans, but we had been fortunate to interact with our future colleagues and peers from schools all around the country. As I laid my head on the plane window, exhausted, I peered down once more at the “City of Lights”. We had planned carefully to take full advantage of this trip and left with more than we could have ever imagined.
Snapping back into reality, I rush to catch up with the diagram being drawn onto the board. Admittedly, I secretly look forward to KMK board reviews. All of the information that has been crammed and crowded into our brains for the past two years is starting to assemble into a concise, manageable pile of knowledge. Never before have I experienced so many “Aha!” moments. So as midterms approach and you’ll start to pull out your hair, take a moment and listen to these words of wisdom: “If you study for this exam, for any exam in life, with the mindset that you are doing this not just to pass, not to make mom and dad happy, but instead to better yourself and your career…well then studying will be a whole lot less miserable a whole lot more fun!”