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Second Year!

Hi guys!

I'm writing to you now as an official second year! I'm about to start my third week of summer session, and it has been a whirlwind so far! It's nice to be back in Memphis too, but this summer heat is ridiculous. I've always thought Pennsylvania had humid summers but that is nothing compared to Tennessee. I've never been so thankful for air conditioning in my life!

So far the biggest change from first to second year has been our schedule. Last year we had classes in the morning and labs in the afternoon, but it is switched now. I have lab 3 days a week, and classes every day from 1:00-4:30. I didn't think I'd like the change, but it's good to have some time to study in the morning before classes start. I wouldn't have thought that we'd have so much work after only two weeks, but given the fact that the summer is only 6 weeks they really try to give as much information as possible. In terms of the classes themselves, we have pathology and pharmacology every day, evidence-based medicine 4 days a week, and inter-professional education once a week. It's great to finally start learning some more applied medicine, and I'm so excited to continue with this.

In terms of labs, we have theory and methods lab twice a week and a foundations of service learning seminar once a week. Theory has gotten more advanced. Our class just started doing fundoscopy exams with the slit lamps. It's definitely not easy but it's such an amazing skill and I've been anxiously waiting to learn it. We're also continuing with our refractive skills and already had our first practical last week.

Overall, I'm really happy to be back and to be getting started on my second year. It wasn't easy to get back into the groove after having such a long time off, but there's no going back now! Hope you're all enjoying these summer months!
Posted by Erin Jaffe at 7/27/15 | 0 comments

Every New Beginning

Aha! My password still works!

I realize that I never got to say goodbye to you all from the vantage of this student life blog, especially now that the student life is over.

Life after my externship in Wichita has been one thing to the next, and I am still in awe at all that has transpired. Graduation was extremely gratifying. It was quite cathartic, celebrating for an entire week with my classmates, and I am so proud of all we have accomplished and will accomplish in our careers.

Two days after graduation, I headed off to Cartagena, Colombia, for my final SVOSH trip as a student. Even though those long clinic hours can be quite difficult sometimes, I still think after four years of SVOSH that there was no better way to spend my time at the end of the school year. We saw roughly 1100 patients in Cartagena.

Rolling right along, my brother also graduated the week after that, and he earned his Master’s in International Business/Asian Studies from Johns Hopkins University. So proud of him, and of course my parents were super happy to have two graduates in the same month.

Then, in the following week, I had sinus surgery to fix a lifelong disorder. Ha, the recovery was not pleasant (I liken the feeling to drowning, but in air), but there was no better time for it. I will never take for granted the ability to simply take a deep breath.

A few weeks later (and still recovering), I ventured to Canada for a heart-filling reunion with my mom’s side of the family, and we celebrated her 86th birthday with a lunch cruise on Lake Ontario. I remarked at how quickly my little cousins are growing, and we very much enjoyed interviewing my grandmother about life in the southern Philippines around World War II.

Just this past weekend, one of my best optometry school friends, Michael, married the love of his life, Connie, providing a very warm, very fun (but quick) reunion for our SCO friends.

While all these life events have happened on a grand scale, daily life has operated on a much smaller scale. I will be joining a private practice south of Nashville this fall, and a lot of the summer has been devoted to preparation for the beginning of my career in optometry. (Exciting!) I’ve gotten my Tennessee license, started the process of getting credentialed on insurances, and attended my first Continuing Education lectures as an optometrist (thanks, SCO and SCO residents!). Also, I have enjoyed short visits to Memphis from my parents, exploring yet more of this awesome city with my now-fourth-year girlfriend, Emy, and the satisfying simplicity of being. Life is good.

And thus in the midst of this extraordinary transition in my life I leave you. Thank you for reading my musings on optometry school these past few years, and I would especially like to thank Sunnie Ewing, Jim Hollifield, and SCO for this opportunity to connect with you all. For those of you currently in optometry school, good luck, and before you know it I’ll be calling you doctor as well. To those of you thinking about optometry as a career, know that optometry is a wonderful, fulfilling profession, and that I consider my years at Southern College of Optometry to be among the best in my life.

And yet, at the dawn of my career, I still believe that the best is yet to come.

Best wishes,
Virgilio Gozum, O.D.

Posted by Amy Dunbar at 7/8/15 | 0 comments

The Cat Days of Summer

I must be getting older, because every time I turn around I'm shocked by how quickly the time has gone. When I first started school in September, it seemed like I would never make it until the end of first year, and now my break is almost over! Seriously, where does the time go?

I've spent my break working (much more than I thought I would be) full-time at my local eye clinic. While it was pretty exhausting to go directly from finals to a 14 hour drive home to working first thing on a Monday morning, I'm so thankful that I had something to do this summer. I think that I would have gotten bored after 10 weeks of doing nothing, and the best thing was that I was able to be in a clinic for 40 hours a week. Not only was I able to practice some of the skills that we were taught this past year, but I was also able to work on some skills that we'll be learning this summer and throughout the rest of second year. I can't stress enough how much being in a clinic setting has helped me and motivated me. I love being able to work so closely with optometrists and to see what they do on a day to day basis. This focus is really what helped me during some stressful moments during my first year. I'm so thankful to have a clear idea of my future career and I love seeing how happy the optometrists are with their careers. I'm hoping to work in a medically-oriented group practice when I graduate, and this clinic gives great insight into this type of setting.

Otherwise this summer, I've done a lot of visiting with family. It's pretty difficult to be so far away during the year and I love having the chance to catch up with everyone. My family and friends are incredibly supportive of my goals and it makes it much easier to be away from everyone when this is the case. My sister is getting married this fall and I was so lucky to have some time at home to be able to plan and be a part of her bridal shower. I love my small town and it's been great to get caught up with all of the locals and the local activity. Most importantly, I've been reunited with the two cats I had to leave at my parents' house when I moved, and I couldn't be happier to spend time with them.

I will be heading back to Memphis next Monday, a few days before classes start. My boyfriend is scheduled to graduate ranger school that weekend (woo hoo!) so I will be making a quick side trip to Georgia and then heading back to Memphis for summer session! It feels great to be a second year and to be getting ready to delve further into optometry-related course.

I'm so thankful to have had this nice long break. Not having to study after work has definitely given me a much needed break and I feel ready to take on all of the challenges that second year has to offer! I will be hitting the books very soon, but until then I'm going to start another beach read and crack open a beer! Hope you're all enjoying your summer, and I'll see you soon, Memphis.
Posted by Erin Jaffe at 6/30/15 | 0 comments

Summer Time and the Livin' Is Easy

Wow, it's amazing how much life can change in a month! It seems like I was just feeling the burn of final exams, but now the "living' is easy." I was able to find a job on campus cleaning and making minor repairs to phoroptors and slit lamps. The job itself is very interesting and beneficial because I will be able to perform simple maintenance on optometric equipment in my own practice one day.

It's amazing how fast first year went! Things came at us so quickly that I didn't notice how fast time went. It feels like I was just at orientation. The course material was difficult, but it was a lot of fun to learn because it was relevant to my future profession. If it hadn't been for my planner I would have gotten lost early on. While it was challenging, there was plenty of room for fun! To help relieve stress, I joined the Vision Therapy club and played on an intramural basketball team. I also made it a goal to treat optometry school as a full time job. In other words, I worked really hard until 5 PM and then went home. This made it easy to balance school life and family life. Knowing that at 5 o'clock I would go home to relax and watch Netflix with my wife made it easier to work hard and efficiently on campus. This rule did not apply during test weeks when I would also study after I got home, but that was only a few weeks per semester. While it was the most demanding academic year of my life, it was very doable thanks to my planner and my supportive wife.

We have had such an amazing time here in Memphis! My wife was able to find a great job soon after moving here. We decided to live at the Hamilton apartments in Mississippi. It takes 20 minutes or less to drive to school and we get so much more for our money living here. All of the shopping you would ever need is nearby (Nordstrom is missing according to my wife, but I'm kind of grateful it's not here :) They are opening up a big outlet mall nearby which will make Christmas shopping a piece of cake! We also love the fact that our favorite restaurants are close. With so many other students living down here, we don't feel out of the loop either. In fact, I was able to carpool with some other students. With gas being so cheap this year, we all paid next to nothing by carpooling.

There are so many fun things to do! Southaven, Horn Lake, and Olive Branch have a ton of parks. We love going geocaching, playing disc golf, pretending like we know how to play tennis, and getting half-priced shakes at Sonic after 8. My favorite hobby is playing actual golf. With the "golfnow" website, you can play 18 holes with a cart for 10-15 dollars at Wedgewood and North Creek golf courses. Both courses are in good shape and both are a lot of fun. It takes about 15 min from the Hamilton to get to both courses.

Being only 20-25 min from Downtown Memphis, we have had an awesome time exploring the city. We love going to Redbirds and Grizzlies games. Even though I'm a Utah Jazz fan and my wife is a Dallas Mavericks fan, we have really enjoyed the Grizzlies games. You can get tickets on stubhub for cheaper than a movie ticket! Redbirds tickets are also less than 10 bucks and are tons of fun (make sure you get the BBQ nachos). My wife and I don't drink and aren't really into the music scene, so Beale Street doesn't have that much appeal to us, but we've heard it's a lot of fun :) We do, however, love food and Memphis has a ton of great places to eat! Southaven has Memphis BBQ Co. which is awesome, but you can't go wrong with the BBQ anywhere here. We loved Elena's Taco Shop up in Bartlett for delicious Mexican food. They have tons of delicious burger joints. Delicious dessert places. Basically, we live in food paradise.

Summer has been a lot of fun so far. We decided to stay in Memphis so that my wife could continue working at her great job and so that I could work on campus and do some shadowing in the clinic. It has been a nice, relaxing break, but I'm excited to get back to school. Last year reinforced my love of optometry and increased my desire to learn all that I can while I'm in school.

That's all for now! Maybe one of these times I'll upload some pictures, but it's summer and I'm feeling a bit lazy :)
Posted by Erin Jaffe at 6/29/15 | 0 comments

Adventures in Clinic

Happy Sunday, readers! I promised to write again once I had some experience as a third-year clinician under my belt, and here I am! Somehow we are already a third of the way through our summer semester. Our new busy clinic schedule is making the summer fly! The way our schedule is set up this semester is pretty different from second year because of our clinic assignments. We have class from 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning until around 10:00, then we either have labs (twice a week) or one of our three clinic assignments (the other three days) depending on which lab group we’re in. My lab group has labs on Mondays and Fridays and clinic Tuesday through Thursday. I’ll walk y’all through each of the three clinic assignments to give you an idea of how they’re all different and what we learn from each one.

On Tuesdays, my lab group has our Optical assignment. We are assigned to the AM shift half the time and the PM shift the other half, meaning we are either in Optical from 10:00-12:45 or from 12:00 until we close. There are actually multiple different assignments within our Optical assignment that we rotate through throughout the semester. Some of these include working out on the floor selling glasses, working in the back room adjusting/fixing/dispensing glasses, working in the lab making the glasses, or even shadowing different people who work in the Optical to get an idea of how everything is run. I like that we get the opportunity to experience every part of the Optical process – from the end of the patient’s eye exam until they pick up the glasses we made! Optical is a lot of work but it’s a good learning experience and it’ll be valuable information once we’re out in practice and possibly managing our own optical.

Wednesdays are fun for two reasons. First, we actually don’t have class on Wednesday mornings so we get to sleep in! Second, my group has our clinic rotations which means we get to see patients in a variety of different settings each week. Each rotation lasts four weeks or longer and they include Teen Clinic, Technology, Nursing Home, Vision Therapy, and even one day of shadowing behind-the-scenes to get an idea of how The Eye Center is run. Since we rotate through these different assignments, I haven’t experienced all of them myself yet. I spent the first four weeks of the semester in Teen Clinic, which is kind of like a stepping-stone between Pediatrics and Adult Primary Care. Teen Clinic was a lot of fun and it made me feel more confident in Adult Primary Care because I was getting more exposure in doing full eye exams in the clinic. I really enjoyed working with the teenagers and I was sad for that rotation to end (for now!) 2 weeks ago. This past week was my first week in the Nursing Home rotation. Nursing Home assignments are different because we have to actually go to various Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Centers, and Hospice centers throughout the Memphis area. At some of the locations we have to go to the patient’s room and do the full eye exam with the patient in their bed. These assignments are a good opportunity to work on incorporating flexibility into our eye exam routine because we can’t do every procedure the same way we would do it in the clinic. After my Nursing Home assignment is over in a few weeks, I’ll be heading to Technology where I’ll be running different tests and scans on patients from all throughout The Eye Center.

Thursdays are my favorite day: the day I’m assigned to Adult Primary Care (APC)! APC is exciting because we’re doing full eye exams (up to three per day right now) on any patient over the age of 18. Each person is assigned to a suite with three other student doctors. We work with one staff doctor in the morning (my suite has Dr. Sparks) and another in the afternoon (Dr. Borgman). It’s fun, exciting, and sometimes a little scary – but I absolutely love it! My staff doctors are very nice and helpful and they push us to help us learn as much as possible. I have learned SO much from each patient I’ve worked with and I’m so excited to finally be at this stage in my education!

The days in clinic are long and can be tiring, but I’m loving every minute and trying to learn as much as I can from the brilliant doctors I’m surrounded by. Adapting to our new schedule has been fun and I’ve enjoyed having exciting patient encounters to discuss with my friends and colleagues. The next exciting thing on the schedule is that we’re leaving on Wednesday for Optometry’s Meeting in Seattle!!! I’ve never been to Seattle so I’m really excited for some great sight-seeing and an awesome convention. I think I mentioned this in my previous post, but Ben (my fiancé! Still so weird to say!) is representing SCO at the Varilux Optometry Student Bowl on Thursday night. The Student Bowl is a BLAST and I can’t wait to cheer Ben on! The competition includes one student from each optometry school and lots of difficult, fast-paced optometry questions. I definitely wouldn’t have the guts to do it and I am so proud of Ben for competing!

I’ll write again after the conference (hopefully with good news about the Student Bowl!). Until then, enjoy your summer! Thanks for reading!
Posted by Erin Jaffe at 6/21/15 | 0 comments