Learn, Relax, and LOVE What You Are Doing!

I’m in my last rotation of fourth year and I start thinking about how much has changed since entering first year. I remember moving to Boston and being on my own for the first time. I felt like I could conquer the world. A wave of nostalgia comes and I have no regrets from my time at NECO. I think about what I have learned and how I have changed both as a person and as a clinician.

As a first year student, I remember sitting in lectures and labs from 8 in the morning to 5 in the evening. Afterwards, we would be running up to either preclinic or to the anatomy lab. I felt like I was running a marathon! We spent hours practicing visual acuity, entrance testing, and case history, each procedure becoming more and more complicated. My head was reeling from everything we were learning. Going from neural pathways to biochemistry to the pathogenesis of diabetes and hypertension and everything in between, I had trouble integrating all this information. It was the repetition, the time my professors invested in teaching, and all the times I spent during office hours that I managed to piece together what I had learned. Things were starting to make sense, finally!

Oh, and I can never forget my first clinical experience during first year! Participating in screenings within the first month of school gave me the opportunity to practice my clinical skills (whatever little skills I had learned at that point!) on REAL patients.  I remember attempting entrance testing and retinoscopy on five year olds. The experience made me realize that not all patients are as easy as our fellow classmates :P Clinically speaking, I like to say that NECO threw me in a pond (first year), a lake (second year), a river (third year), and finally, an ocean (fourth year) but never once did it let me drown.

After completing four rotations, I think NECO has one of the BEST clinical programs. We have the ability to work the entire USA, Canada, Alaska, and even China! I was able to complete my rotations in practice modalities that interested me, such as pediatrics, vision therapy, and ocular disease. Having the option to complete my rotations in specialized clinics gave me the skills and motivation to apply to residencies. My rotations included: two community health centers where my knowledge about ocular disease expanded, a Pediatrics/VT practice, and a Veterans Affairs Hospital. I was fortunate to have preceptors who provided me with a conducive learning environment.  I was able to work with doctors who each had distinctive diagnosis and treatment strategies. By working in different clinics and through observation, I am starting to extract what I have seen and studied to help formulate my own treatment strategies. I am starting to think like a doctor!

My memories of NECO and Boston bring about a wave of sadness as I realize that my time here is coming to an end. I’m not joking when I say “time flies”. Learn, relax, and LOVE what you are doing! Those three words helped me through school and remain my mantra as I embark on my next adventure as a resident.

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