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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

Carry On, Wayward Son

Kansas!* For the first time in my remembered life, I am living somewhere that is not Tennessee. More specifically, not Jackson, Chattanooga, or Memphis. Thus, this last externship of optometry school has been quite an adventure.

With the recent (and welcomed) downtick in gas prices, I made it to Wichita on $25 of gas. That would have been unthinkable just a few months ago. The weather on my way here was moderately treacherous, but the real “Welcome to Kansas” came on the second day when it snowed 5.5 inches in as much hours. Still, whereas Tennessee would more or less shut down at such an ice storm, life goes on for Kansans! There was no bread/milk/eggs panic.

I am enjoying my private practice site, Child & Family Eyecare. Working with my preceptor, Dr. Pat Pirotte, and the resident, Devin Duval (OD ’14, a former SCO Student Life blogger, you may recall!), I have been learning much about the vision therapy life. It is truly amazing how effective vision therapy can be, especially for children with visual issues that hinder them from reading. I’ve said it before in these very spaces, but if a child has trouble reading, he or she will have trouble learning. And if a child has trouble learning, that child’s potential is ultimately limited.

In addition to primary care and vision therapy, on Wednesday mornings Devin and I venture to the local rehab hospitals to see patients post stroke/trauma/head injury to screen them for visual issues. If need be, we can recommend certain activities to their regular occupational or physical therapists, and we can also refer them to our own clinic if in-office vision therapy is warranted. This has been a good experience so far.

From Dr. Pirotte, I am seeing the ins and outs of running a successful practice. As someone who hopes to own a practice someday, these experiences are invaluable, since I have only had my practice management classes to draw from so far. Also, this semester we have also been working on bolstering inter-professional relationships by speaking with speech/language pathologitst, physical therapists, school nurses, etc. about how we can all work together for the benefit of our patients. I really think this is how healthcare should be – a team of professionals working together for the benefit of patients.

As this is my final semester, much plotting for the future remains. Daily I think about that ever-growing light at the end of the tunnel, and my experiences here in Wichita will certainly help me be better prepared for when I emerge.

Lastly, I have gotten to explore Wichita a little bit. Here are some pictures from Keeper of the Plains, a giant sculpture dedicated to the Plains Indians who once called this area home. It is in a beautiful park along the Arkansas River, and very much lends itself to photography.

*Bonus points for you if you understand why this blog post is titled so!

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

Part I Boards: Lots of Studying, Little Bit of Fun

Hello, cyberworld!!! It’s been a while since I’ve written my last blog, and a lot of things have changed since then! If you haven’t read my blog before, I am a third year student here at SCO. If you want to know what spring semester of third year is all about, I can sum it up in one word: BOARDS!

Yes, we take the first part of our national boards in the middle of March! So what that means is my classmates and I pretty much spend every waking moment outside of clinic studying for one of the biggest tests of our careers. We are still in clinic about three days a week, and we have a few classes, but everyone’s main focus this time of year is boards! Luckily for us, we have the best teachers who give up their free time to come give us review classes to help us prepare. I think that is just amazing! Until boards, we don’t have an official class scheduled until 9:00 every morning, so our class officers work with the faculty that have taught our classes over the past three years to schedule review sessions from 8:00-9:00 every morning. Like I said, these teachers come on their own time to do a quick review to hit all the high points of the classes they taught.

Not only are our teachers so supportive, but everyone around the school is doing whatever they can to help us through this stressful time. I feel like we have a group of about 400 cheerleaders on campus at all times keeping our spirits and energy up! I won’t go into specifics about how the test is set up, but if you want to know more about the test and what all it covers, you can look on the NBEO website. My studying is going pretty well so far, but I still have a long way to go in the next two months!

But if you have read my blog before, you probably already know that I believe in working hard, and also playing hard. I work very hard and take school very seriously, but I also believe enjoying and letting loose with all my classmates sometimes as well. That brings me to my next point: The Eye Ball! The Eye Ball is a party that the school puts on for the students every year in January. The Student Government Association helps plan this event, and it is always SO MUCH FUN! Usually it is at a fancy building downtown with a bar, DJ, and a huge dance floor! It is always such a fun party, and a great opportunity to get dressed up, have fun, and make some great memories with all your classmates. I have enjoyed the Eye Ball every year, but it was especially great this year because it was a perfect, much needed break from studying for boards. Like usual, I have posted some pictures from the Eye Ball.

If you wonder what I’m doing for the next few months, you can probably find me in the library studying as hard as I can! I believe SCO has given me the best education to be prepared for this huge test, but now it’s time for me to put in the hard work! I’ll see you on the other side of boards!!!!!

My boyfriend and I enjoying the Eye Ball!

Some of my best friends and I before the Eye Ball!

Posted by Erin Jaffe at 1/30/15 | 0 comments