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Second year is coming to a close!

Hi, readers! My class is getting close to the end of a very busy year and I wanted to check in and update y’all before we start the home stretch! Last week was our second midterm week of the semester and this week was the start of our most important practical yet: our pre-clinical checkouts. Pre-clinical checkouts are essentially a “super-practical” – we perform a full (one hour long) eye exam on a classmate, and if we score above an 80% on every section of the exam we are cleared to start seeing our own patients in the summer term. These checkouts take place in The Eye Center (our first time performing these procedures in the clinic) and they go on for all of this week and all of next week. Mine is scheduled for Friday morning at 7:30. I’m feeling a little nervous but prepared, and I’m excited that I’ll be able to get it done during the first week and can relax and enjoy my Easter weekend a little bit more! I can’t wait until next month when we get to start applying all of these skills in the clinic and seeing REAL patients on a regular basis!

Besides studying for last week’s midterms and practicing for checkouts, there have been some fun events going on at SCO! Last Friday and Saturday was the Housing Fair for the Class of 2019. As a Student Ambassador, I had the opportunity to interact with a lot of the incoming students and their families as they met some of their classmates and explored Memphis a little bit. It was a lot of fun and it made me even more excited about welcoming a new class to the SCO family soon! I can hardly believe that we will be third years next month and there will already be an entering class that is two years below us here. Time flies when you’re having fun (and when you’re super busy!).

Another recent event for the second year class is that we were able to choose a seminar (kind of like an elective course) that we will be taking in the fall. This was exciting because it was the first time we were able to choose a class/seminar to take so it gave us the opportunity to think about what areas of optometry interest is the most and which professors we may want to learn a little more from. The options we were given were all great and it was hard to choose just one. The seminars that were offered included specialty contact lens fits, ortho-keratology and myopia control, pediatrics and VT, medical optometry, anterior segment disease, VT in acquired brain injury patients, practice management, and behavioral optometry/VT in brain injuries, sports vision, and autism. We were all able to rank our top three choices through an online survey, and luckily we were all matched with our first choice! I chose the ortho-keratology seminar with Dr. Jackson and I am looking forward to working with him in the fall!

Well, I’m off to practice one last time for my checkouts. Wish me luck! Next time I post, I’ll be a third year and I’ll be able to tell y’all all about my early clinic adventures. Exciting times are ahead! Happy Easter, everyone!
Posted by Erin Jaffe at 4/1/15 | 0 comments


Hello blogosphere!

We’re less than 50 days away from graduation (but who’s counting right!?) and I have some exciting news to share. I’m proud to announce I matched with my top-ranked residency choice of Bond-Wroten Eye Clinic! Starting this fall, I will begin my one-year family practice residency serving the good people of Louisiana. Talk about being a jet setter! This is my final stop along my optometric journey before I return to Kentucky to join a private practice with specialties in therapeutic contact lenses and dry eye disease. I am grateful to all my family, friends, and mentors who have been supporting me on this adventure called optometry school…Dr. Puerto is in sight!

How about D.C.? My final externship rotation continues to offer me a variety of challenging patient encounters at Walter Reed Military Medical Hospital. Serving a hospital population, I weekly ‘scrub-up’ to observe a variety of ophthalmology surgeries from retina to oculoplastics. Similarly, I enjoy working with externs from at least 5 other optometry schools—it’s interesting to compare the similarities and differences of our optometry school experience. Moreover, I’ve made some extraordinary life-long new friends out of these fellow externs, and I’m so happy to share these last few months of optometry school with them. Living in the nation’s capital has been an amazing time, and I’ve had some unexpected blessings pop up along the way. Now that the third years have completed NBEO Part 1, I look forward to a few of my underclassmen buddies making the trek to D.C. for a quick visit next month to see me. I miss my SCO crew!

So what’s my life like now that I have less than two months until graduation? Oh, busy sending out graduation announcements, tying up leadership loose ends and preparing for club transitions, and (most thrillingly) finalizing my Pacific Coast Road Trip to Optometry’s Meeting 2015 in Seattle for this June…no big deal ;)

It’s a good time to be a 4th year; graduation is just beyond the horizon!

Carpe Diem,

Posted by Amy Dunbar at 3/24/15 | 0 comments

Exploring SCO

Why do we love SCO? Even if you were to extract this school from the diverse flavor of Memphis itself, SCO would still stand as a fascinating place to grow in. Hopefully you will begin to see what I mean as we journey through our campus, which consists of the Tower, Annex, Activity Center, and The Eye Center.

The Activity Center overflows with opportunities for exercise and fun. Games such as pool, ping-pong, foosball, racquetball, basketball, and shuffleboard are great ways to pass the time before or after class. If you are planning to get into shape, the gym will be your hotspot for the whole year, as it has become mine. Intramural volleyball, basketball, and indoor soccer are always a blast to watch or participate in! Whatever athletic tendency you have, it can be accommodated here at SCO.

The Eye Center is where patients are given comprehensive eye exams from 3rd and 4th year students who are supervised by licensed optometric physicians. This allows our students to have over 3,000 patient encounters before they graduate from SCO. Such hands-on experience is why our school is known for its clinical prestige.

The Annex can be used for many auxiliary events. I personally enjoy FCO (Fellowship of Christian Optometrists) meetings there once a month. It is a smaller separate building tucked in the center of campus and is a perfect place for miscellaneous events.

From the top of the Tower in the president’s office down to the recycling room of the basement, you will find loving and warm people full of smiles. Our mail room and bookstore workers, security, maintenance and janitorial staff create a delightful atmosphere that serves as that small pick-me-up you need before heading to class. The professors, even outside of the classroom, are courteous and always open for a long chat in their office. The students here receive much needed financial supervision, career guidance, and real-life preparation from some of the best professors and staff I have ever had the privilege to know.

It may seem like I’m saying, “SCO is the best place on Earth,” but every person here is still 100% human. No facility is perfect, and that must be considered, especially for the students when we tend to set up unrealistic expectations for our professors and their teaching abilities. Although, you may be amazed at how well the material is delivered in some classes. I believe that you wouldn’t want to leave, as you became more acquainted with a present day, and no less magical, version of Hogwarts. For an optometric college, private education and personal enrichment have never been quite so well intertwined. Why would YOU love SCO? We welcome you to come and find out firsthand!

Posted by Erin Jaffe at 2/18/15 | 0 comments

Fourth Year Snow Shuffle

Externship Round III has been A-M-A-Z-I-N-G, and it’s not even halfway done! I really enjoyed the pace and business-side of my previous private practice rotation, but the number of interesting cases I’ve seen at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center have themselves been challenging and top-notch. It wasn’t until I was writing my case reports for externship credit that I realized how many unique patient encounters I’ve had in just under two months at Walter Reed. Take for example a recent LASIK procedure I watched and preformed pre-op/post-op care for—though the LASIK procedure outcomes turned out well, the patient had some challenges during the procedure which caused the patient to experience a severe bout of Sands of Sahara (DLK). In this case, it took oral steroids to quell the inflammation and help the healing process along. Remarkably, the patient’s 1 week post-op the cornea had cleared up so well her vision was almost 20/20 in each eye! For this highly nearsighted patient, it was life changing to be ‘glasses and contact lens free’ for the first time, and to actually see clearly too. For me, I found this case particular fulfilling as I witnessed a complicated surgery from pre-op to post-op and the excellent outcomes optometrists can help provide with quick, aggressive treatment strategies.

I could keep on going about my externship, but I wanted to catch you all up on where I’m at with my residency-matching process. So far I’ve had two very good interviews in Seattle and Louisiana, and now I’m on the road to Oklahoma for my final interview. While the interviews can be a bit intimidating, visiting these successful private practices have been inspiring and motivating for where I see myself as a future eye care provider in both optometric research and advocacy. My interview in Seattle was particularly eventful because I was able to also visit my older brother. Coincidentally, it also happened to be Super Bowl Weekend and the Seattle Seahawks were playing in the big game! Seriously, those Seattle fans are a rowdy bunch! Also, compliments of my big brother’s job at Facebook, I toured the Zuck’s famous Seattle office while I was there too!!

And then there’s D.C., which in just the past few weeks has been once again unbelievably welcoming to this Southern gal. I have made new friends with my fellow Walter Reed Externs, and already feel a close bond with those ladies. I enjoy our Password game nights, and walking tours around the Capitol. And it’s bittersweet when one leaves our group to rotate on to their next externship, only to have another amazing lady join our group. As graduation is upon us, it’s nice to share this exciting experience with these bright women, and it makes me miss my SCO community and Class of 2015 so much more.

And Happy Valentine’s Day, blogosphere!

Big updates to share in my next blog post…

Carpe Diem,

Posted by Amy Dunbar at 2/15/15 | 0 comments

Second Year Labs

Hi, readers! Last time I wrote I talked a lot about classes and our new exam week schedule. However, one thing I have noticed over and over again when I give prospective students/admissions interview tours of the campus is that people tend to have more questions about labs and pre-clinical activities than they do about the actual courses. Labs are a huge part of our schedule and they’re extremely important since they give us the hands-on experience and exposure to things we’ll be doing every day once we’re seeing patients in the clinic. The labs we have in optometry school are very different than what most labs are like in college. Rather than being focused on pre-lab questions, lab reports, and worksheets, our labs put a major emphasis on clinical applications of the things we’re learning about in our courses. Since this tends to be an area prospective students have a lot of questions about, I figured I would give a short summary of some of our second year spring semester labs to give y’all an idea of what they’re like.

​The lab that we’ve had every semester and that is the most important lab in terms of clinical skills is our Optometric Theory & Methods lab. As first year students, we mastered skills in this lab such as retinoscopy, chair skills, and actually refracting a patient. By the end of our first year we could perform the first half of an eye exam and were comfortable with determining a glasses prescription for a patient. Second year skills in this lab focus on the dilated retinal exam. We began with fundoscopy in July and spent the past seven months working on different ways to examine the retina: fundoscopy and Binocular Indirect Ophthalmoscopy. This lab requires a LOT of practicing outside of lab hours to master these difficult skills. However, it’s a lot of fun to learn these skills and finally say that we can perform the majority of an eye exam! Between having our eyes dilated multiple times a week, practicing for practical exams, and choosing and purchasing all of our equipment, this lab has been a huge part of our time as students here. When we start seeing patients at The Eye Center in three short months, I know we’ll feel prepared and ready because of all of our time spent in this lab!

To supplement the skills we’re learning in our Optometric Theory & Methods lab, we have two additional pre-clinical labs this semester: our Anterior Segment and Posterior Segment labs. In these labs (which also take place in our pre-clinical lab rooms with fully functional exam lanes) we learn additional skills to evaluate the health of the front of the eye (cornea, lens, eyelids, etc) and the back of the eye (the retina). Our Anterior Segment lab is extra exciting this semester because we finally get to learn to perform all of our injection procedures. It sounds a little scary at first, but I know I want all the practice I can get before I perform them on actual patients at the clinic!

Another important set of labs that we’ve had is our Ophthalmic Optics and Contact Lenses labs. These labs focus on glasses and contact lenses and how to take measurements on them, fit them on patients, and even how to make them. I didn’t have much experience with glasses or contact lenses before I started optometry school, so I’ve learned a lot of important things in these labs. Our practicals in these labs usually consist of moving from station to station and taking different measurements on pairs of glasses or contact lenses. Next week we begin fitting rigid contact lenses on each other’s eyes which will be something new for a lot of us!

Our last series of labs that we are finishing up this semester is our Pediatrics/Vision Therapy labs. We took Pediatrics last semester and now we’re in Vision Therapy, but the two labs are set up in basically the same way. Each week we learn a new set of clinical skills in lab. Usually the skills we learn align pretty much perfectly with what we’re learning in class. We then perform all of the new skills on a partner in lab and take a quiz over them, then at the end of the semester we have a big final practical exam where we have to perform and talk about a few of the skills on our exam proctor! We don’t know which ones we’ll have to perform until we get there to take our exam, so it’s a good way to make sure we know and practice all of them.

All of these labs have a ton of clinical applications. We may just be doing these procedures on each other right now, but it won’t be long at all before we’ll be performing them on real patients. All of the practicing to perfect these new skills will pay off when we can see them in action in the clinic! Between the skills we learn in our labs and the knowledge we’re learning in our classes, we will be ready to go in The Eye Center this May. :-)
Posted by Erin Jaffe at 2/14/15 | 0 comments