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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

Well Hello Everyone!

This is my first ever post on the SCO Student Life Blog and I am very excited to share my thoughts! So, let’s get right to it!

My name is Will Stringer and I am now a second year student at SCO. I grew up in Daphne, Alabama in the Gulf Coast area of south Alabama. Not familiar with the town? You’ve probably passed through it dozens of times on your way to the beaches of Alabama and Florida. It is a wonderful place to live and I can’t wait to move back to the area after graduating from SCO!

I spent my undergraduate years at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, MS. I ended up there after joining the football team as an invited walk-on. After a short time, I decided that I was ready to spend my college years strictly as a student. I graduated from Southern Miss with a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science with a minor in Biology. Most of my exercise science classmates went on to Physical Therapy school or some sort of athletic training. I was the only student from my program to go into optometry. However, after a year of optometry school, you would be surprised to know the amount of times my experiences in exercise science were directly applicable to my optometry curriculum.

I am married to my beautiful wife, Stephanie, from Mobile, Alabama . We have been together since the summer before our senior year of high school in 2007! Just this last month, we were fortunate enough to celebrate our first wedding anniversary together. In even bigger news, we were able to really blow the unsuspecting minds of our friends and family when we told them WE ARE EXPECTING!! Our first child is due to arrive November 5th and we could not be any happier! Just in this past year, I have become a husband, an optometry student, and now a soon-to-be father. What an unbelievable year it has been!

Just to wrap things up, I want to talk a little bit about my first year in optometry school at SCO. First year was unlike any year of school I’ve ever experienced. The amount of information we learned as a class is mind boggling. But I also learned a great deal about myself and my willingness to succeed. I have made so many new friendships that I am sure will last a lifetime. My time at SCO thus far has fully reassured me that I made the right choice in coming to SCO.

So, that is just a quick introduction about myself! I am looking forward to giving you more inside looks at what life is like for an optometry student at SCO. Until next time, take care y’all!
Posted by Erin Jaffe at 6/12/15 | 0 comments

A short but VERY sweet break!

Hi, readers! A LOT has happened since my post from last month. First, after a difficult week of final exams the Class of 2017 became THIRD YEARS! Starting tomorrow we will be in the clinic regularly – finally doing what we’ve been looking forward to since the beginning: seeing patients! Third year will be exciting and busy and definitely a little different from first and second year which both have a heavy emphasis on academics.

Between second and third year we got a two-week long break. The first Monday of the break is when we had our Clinic Orientation and had the opportunity to hear from different doctors and staff in The Eye Center as well as meet the 2 staff doctors we’ll be working with during the summer semester in Adult Primary Care. This was really exciting to me because these staff doctors will be the first to shape how we will practice ourselves. It will be very interesting working with different doctors who have different approaches to performing an eye exam and different opinions. My suite (which includes myself and three of my classmates) was assigned Dr. Borgman in the mornings and Dr. Sparks in the afternoons – two great doctors who gave a wonderful first impression during Clinic Orientation. My first day in APC is this coming Thursday and I can’t wait! My lab group has our Optical assignments on Tuesdays and our other rotations (including Technology, Teen Clinic, and Nursing Home assignments) on Wednesdays.

After Clinic Orientation, my break got even more exciting! Ben and I headed home (to The Woodlands, Texas – a suburb of Houston) on Wednesday to visit our families and spend a little time relaxing before beginning our third year. Little did I know, there was a lot more to this trip home than I thought! On Monday, May 11th Ben took me to a spot on the Waterway in our home town – the first place he ever said “I love you” to me many years ago – and asked me to marry him!!! Of course I said yes, and after dinner he took me to his parents’ house to “tell his parents about our engagement.” When we got there, our families were all there and they had planned a surprise engagement party for us! It was a night full of excitement, love, and happiness. Ben is my best friend and the love of my life and I can’t wait for him to be my husband!

Since we only had a few more days at home before we had to head back to Memphis, we tried to do some speedy planning before the craziness of third year sets in this week. We already set a date, made a tentative invite list, and narrowed it down to 2 venues! This past week has been one of the best weeks of my life and I can’t wait to celebrate with our friends and classmates now that we are back in Memphis.

Next time I write I’ll have some stories from my first weeks in clinic! Until then, enjoy some pictures from the proposal and engagement party. :-)

Posted by Erin Jaffe at 5/18/15 | 0 comments

Meet the Friendly Faces of SCO

Hey everyone out there! I'm sorry it's taken me a while to write a new post! If you remember from my last blog, I was getting ready to take a little (ok, really big) test called the national boards…. and I survived! Actually I haven't even gotten my scores back so I can't celebrate too much just yet, but I sure have been enjoying some extra free time not worrying about that!

I thought life was going to slow down after boards, but I realize now I was wrong. I am not having to do nearly as much studying lately, but I have still been putting lots of energy into my clinical training and to be honest, my social calendar has kept me busy as well! There are so many great things to do in Memphis during the spring, and I've been trying to hang out with my classmates as much as I can before we split ways for externships. I am now less than two weeks away from away from being a 4th year going on externs, and I actually filled out my paperwork for my cap and gown today! Wow. I really can't believe I am at this point. I will be staying close to Memphis for all of my externships, but I won't actually be doing the one at SCO until the fall. Some of my best friends are moving off to do theirs, and I will be doing my summer rotation at a place called The Church Health Center. There is so much to be excited about, like working with new people in a different place, but this is also a little bittersweet because I won't be surrounded by my SCO family on a daily basis for a while.

If you have read any of my blogs at all, you can probably tell I am a quite the sentimental person, especially when it comes to the wonderful people in my life, including my SCO family. Since I know some of you may not have ever visited SCO, I wanted to use this opportunity to introduce you to some of my favorite people that encourage me every single day. Don't worry, of course I have pictures so you can put a face to the name.

First of all, let me introduce you to what we call "The Power Team." This is the name we came up with for our suite this semester in clinic. Yeah, it may be kind of cheesy, but we don't care! We like to think we have had the most fun while still learning the most throughout this semester. I have no doubt this is true! We worked so well together, and I looked forward to clinic with these people each week.

The Power Team from left to right: Katie Richardson, Preslee Trammell, Dr. Robert Binkley, Lauren Wood, James Hoover, Dr. Christopher Borgman

First up we have Dr. Borgman… I am lucky enough have had him as a staff doctor for the past TWO semesters. That may not seem like a big deal to you, but trust me, it's a BIG deal. He is one of the most intelligent doctors I've ever worked with, while also being one of the best teachers. He is very passionate about teaching his students, and also about taking the best care he can with his patients. I can honestly say I left every week being a better student doctor because of something new he taught me. He challenged us to think about clinic in a different way, and even when we had slow days with only a few patients, he would pull up cases to show us to walk through with him. Thanks for challenging us and teaching us something new every single day!

Next up is Dr. Binkley… If you saw how great of a staff doctor he is, you probably wouldn't believe that this has only been his first full semester teaching at SCO. It's pretty amazing how much he's been able to teach all of us even in his short time teaching at SCO. He finished up his residency at the Memphis VA just last year, and it's pretty impressive how much experience he has already. He reminds me that wisdom knows no age. He also challenges us on a daily basis to become the best and most efficient doctors we can be. He likes to put us on the spot most of the time by asking us a lot of tough questions, but none of us really mind because we know he's only looking out for us. He even showed up with a pop quiz for clinic one time. Again, we didn't mind, because it was only to help us. He even has showed up early on his free time to work with us on clinical techniques we wanted extra help on. Also, I'm not sure where I'd be without all his crazy examples and comparisons when I am confused about something. Thanks for everything Dr. Binkley!

The last guy of the group is James….what can I say? He is one of the nicest, hard-working guys you will ever meet. He's never afraid to lend a helping hand in clinic or outside of clinic. It takes a special guy to be in a suite with three girls, but he was the perfect fit! He is always watching out for us girls, and even bought us each a cookie on Valentine's Day just because he is a gentleman. James, thanks for your friendship and your constant positive attitude…oh, and putting up with three tough girls this semester!

Katie is up next….She and I are not only suitemates, but we are also classmates, friends, roommates, and true Mississippi girls. I can't even begin to tell you how much Katie has helped me throughout all three years at SCO. In the past, she has always kept me organized to know when assignments were due or make sure I made it to class on time, but I really have enjoyed being in the same clinic suite this semester. It has been really fun! Like James, she is always willing to lend a helping hand to help out the team. Katie, your hard work is inspirational, and I'm so thankful for your friendship!

The last of The Power Team, but certainly not the least, is Lauren… she is one smart cookie! Also she is one of the nicest, sweetest souls I have ever met. I am so glad I got to know her better through clinic in a previous semester, and I'm so thankful she has become one of my best friends over this past year. She is such a hard worker, and I admire her independence and her easy going spirit. She can always go with the flow which is important in a clinic like The Eye Center. She has such a wonderful way with patients and I feel like I'm learning from her all the time! Thanks Lauren for keeping us grounded this semester and being such a sweet friend!

The next person I'd like to introduce you to is Sunnie Ewing. She is SCO's Director of Recruitment and part of the wonderful Student Services Department. If you are a prospective student and you haven't met her already, I'm sure you will eventually! She works so hard traveling all around the country to spread the word about all the great things going on here at SCO. She works mostly with prospective students, but let me just tell you that she also does so much for the current students as well! We appreciate everything you do for us, Sunnie!

Sunnie Ewing, Director of Recruiting, getting her annual eye exam by yours truly!

The next people I want to introduce you to are EXTREMELY important to SCO! The reason for that is because these are the people in charge of keeping all of us fed! And they don't just keep us fed, they keep us fed with some of the most delicious food around. Melissa is a caterer, but we're lucky enough to have her and her crew take care of us every day at Blink Cafe right in the tower of the school. I hope you get the chance to try her food sometime. 

One of my friends says that is one of his top 10 favorite food spots in Memphis, and I'd definitely have to agree. They serve hot breakfast, salads, sandwiches, as well as a different special every day that usually includes a meat/pasta, vegetable, side salad, and bread. Some of my favorites items include her chicken quesadillas, cheesy potatoes, corn bread, red beans and rice, and broccoli and cheese soup. Ok, thats quite a few items, but I haven't even gotten to dessert yet! Luscious banana cake, strawberry cake, death by chocolate, bread pudding, brownies…Do I need to say more? I think you get the idea of how fabulous it is, but I also want to mention that is actually quite affordable for us. We wouldn't be able to enjoy it as much as we do if it wasn't!

Melissa, Glaze, and Rebecca are not only serving up some great food, but they are also serving up smiles and encouragement on a daily basis to everyone at SCO. To a student who may be worn out from studying for a big test the night before grabbing breakfast before the big test, or someone grabbing a quick bite for lunch between a busy patient schedule in clinic, some good food and encouragement goes a long way. They give everyone a free "birthday brownie" on their birthday, and during finals, Melissa puts out free snacks for people to come grab as brain food while studying. 

Rebecca is usually there to greet you with a smile as you place your order. She knows you by name and normally knows what you want to eat before you even have to say it! We are all lucky to have become friends with this sweet soul, even outside of school. You can usually find Glaze (who is Melissa's son) behind the counter in his Memphis Grizzlies jersey preparing your food on the grill or getting your special ready for you. He also usually knows everyone's name and order, as well as what sports he can talk to you about, whether it be professional or college. He and Rebecca have become such good friends with everyone, it feels like they are students in our class! Melissa is usually running around taking care of whatever else needs taking care of, catering different events at the school like board meetings and interviews. I don't know when she sleeps because it seems like she is at the school at all time to feed us! She is like a second mother away from home who is there to provide encouragement through smiles, hugs, and some good homemade comfort food. 

I don't think they realize how lucky everyone feels to have them at SCO, but we certainly are thankful from the bottom of our hearts (and stomachs) for the delicious food you provide and the love and encouragement that means the world to us on a daily basis.

From left to right: Melissa, Rebecca, myself, and Glaze

Last, but certainly not least I want to introduce you to Ron. Ron has become one of my favorite people here at SCO and I'm lucky to call him a dear friend. Ron works for the physical plant, which means he works extremely hard to set up tables and chairs, etc, for all the events that go on at SCO. I was talking to one of the staff doctors about how this is one of the most important jobs at SCO, even if Ron may not know it. With all of the different meetings and events happening on a daily basis at SCO, none of them would be possible if it weren't for Ron making sure everyone has what they need. I know it's pretty cheesy to say, but the only thing bigger than Ron's arm muscles is his heart and his smile. 

If you ever see Ron walking around the school, you will never see him without a big smile on his face. At this point, I don't even think he knows what a frown is. Anytime you pass him in the halls, he'll always have the biggest grin on his face and ask you how you are doing, even if you don't know him. If you ask him how he is, I'd be willing to bet he responds with something about how blessed he is. What he may not realize is actually how blessed we are at SCO to have someone like him working to take care of us like he does. He may not have been a teacher or a staff doctor to me, but I have learned so much from this man about life and work ethic. The time and positive energy he puts towards his work is inspirational, and I hope I can carry that through in my job as an optometrist. Ron, thank you for all your hard work, your friendship, and the positive energy you bring to work every single day!

My good friend Ron!

All of these people have become such a huge part of my life and I am so thankful for each and every one of them. There are many more faces out there that I'd love to introduce you to, but there's just too many to name! If you haven't had the chance to visit SCO, I really hope you get a chance to come see for yourself and you may just recognize a few of the friendly faces wandering around!

Posted by Erin Jaffe at 4/28/15 | 0 comments