This Can’t Be the End, Can It?

I can’t help but feel nostalgic when I realize that I have one month left in optometry school. I will no longer have that “sense of protection” from my fellow classmates, preceptors, and professors. I’ve been an optometry student for the last four years where I’ve had the luxury of preceptors guiding and teaching me; but it’s time to cut the umbilical cord and venture into the “real world.”

The past four years have been a whirlwind; people used to tell me “enjoy your four years, time flies.” They weren’t kidding! I feel like in the blink of an eye (no pun intended) I went from being a naïve first year student to a fourth year primary eye care provider.

During first year, apartment hunting, acclimating to a new city and meeting new people was just the tip of the iceberg. Navigating through NECO was a challenge in itself; I was always confused with which stairwell led where for the longest time. Next was school itself. Between lectures, labs, additional practice time in pre-clinic and anatomy lab, screenings, and studying for exams, time management was my new best friend. I decided during that year that sleep was an impediment to my success in optometry school. I felt like a robot while performing my clinical skills during screenings; cover right eye, look at the left eye, uncover right eye, look at the left eye. I knew what steps to perform, but had a difficult time deciphering findings from the norm. Everything was methodological for me during first year; patients were normal, they just had to be.

Second year was a blur. Classes became more clinically relevant; we were learning about diabetes, ocular manifestations of high blood pressure, and systemic medications and their impact on the eye.

Boards during third year challenged my knowledge base and forced me to tap into all areas of my brain – I was essentially being tested on material I had learned from the last three years! The start of third year is when I began my transition from a robotic clinician performing every test to catering the exam to my patients’ needs. I began asking myself questions like, “My patient is a 23 year old healthy female with 20/20 vision at D and N, do I really need to do Amsler?”

Fourth year is what I like to call my “aha!” year. I was fortunate to have amazing clinical experiences ranging from the pediatric to geriatric populations. I was encouraged to tap into my three years of learning since each population requires varying modalities of care.

Although stress levels were at a peak these past four years, I still took the time to explore Boston, Cambridge, and the surrounding New England states. Running along the Charles, weekend trips to New York, enjoying a fabulous meal on Newbury Street, shopping for wine at Trader Joe’s, and just simple nights with the girls at home are my fondest memories. Four years through optometry school fostered some of my best friendships; we all have similar stories from clinic, the same questions about material we’re learning, and the frustration felt while studying for boards and practicing clinical skills.

Optometry is continually evolving. Every day, new research is being published and that challenges and pushes me to maintain my knowledge base since it will have a tremendous impact on the care of my patients.

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This entry was posted on Friday, April 20th, 2012 at 3:16 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.