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Week 1 Fun

We’re only one week into our spring semester but I can already tell it’s going to be a good one! Since this is our last term before we start seeing patients at The Eye Center, we learn a lot this semester that is very important and very clinical. We spent first year and some of second year learning the foundation behind everything that we are learning now, which involves being able to determine what is normal, what isn’t, and what treatment course to take for different types of abnormalities. This exciting clinical emphasis is present in both lecture and in lab this semester. Lecture includes courses in treating diseases in the anterior and posterior segments of the eye, a course focusing on contact lenses, a vision therapy course, ocular pharmacology, and a review course on general optometric theory and methods. We’ll be learning tons about diseases, drugs, treatments, therapy, contact lenses, glasses, and how all of these things tie together!

All of the information we’ll be covering in our courses correlates with clinical skills we’ll be learning to perform in our labs. There are a lot of exciting things to learn and this semester will be our last time spent doing all of these different procedures on each other – soon we’ll be working with real patients in the clinic! My lab group has our “clinical internship introduction” lab on Monday mornings. This lab consists of school screenings all across Shelby County, shadowing student doctors, and other various clinical experiences in the community. It’s a valuable way to apply our skills in different ways and get an idea of what it will be like when we’re working with our patients. Three of our other labs this semester (anterior segment, posterior segment, and theory & methods) take place in our pre-clinical labs. This is good news for us, because it means we are learning lots of new exam techniques and perfecting the skills we have already learned! By the end of this semester we’ll be able to tie the information from all of these labs together and perform a full comprehensive eye exam. Our anterior segment lab even includes our injection procedures which will be exciting (and maybe a little scary at first!) to learn. Our last two labs, contact lenses and vision therapy, will involve learning important skills that will be directly applied and used every day in the Contact Lenses & Vision Therapy suites in The Eye Center. I am personally really excited about these two because they are both areas of optometry that we haven’t learned many clinical skills in yet, so it will be a lot of new things to learn.

Between our courses and labs and practicing for our Pre-Clinic Checkouts in April, we’re in for another busy semester. A few short months from now, I’ll have some actual clinical experience to talk about – and I couldn’t be more excited! Thanks for reading and I’ll check in again soon.

Posted by Amy Dunbar at 1/12/15 | 0 comments

Happy Holidays!

Well… another semester has absolutely flown by! I can’t believe my class is already halfway through our second year at SCO. This semester has been challenging but full of exciting new knowledge and skills. The most exciting part of this semester for me was the number of new clinical skills we learned in our Theory & Methods lab. We began the semester finishing up with our Fundoscopy skills that we learned over the summer mini-semester, and by the time finals rolled around last week we had learned to perform Binocular Indirect Ophthlamoscopy (the big kahuna!), Tonometry, Gonioscopy, and other various skills. Juggling learning and practicing these clinical skills along with keeping up with our seven courses was difficult, but we all made it through and now we are one step closer to being clinicians!

Now that we’re on Christmas break, there is only one more semester standing between my class and our first experiences as student doctors in The Eye Center. We start seeing our own patients in May and I could not be more excited! I can’t wait to start applying all of these skills we have been working so hard to master and to begin really thinking like a doctor. SCO has been providing us with every opportunity possible to prepare us for real-life patient interactions so I know we will feel ready and prepared (but still probably a little nervous!) when we’re finally in the clinic in May.

As for the next two weeks, I plan to do a lot of relaxing and catching up on sleep! I’m going home to Texas to visit my family for a week for Christmas then coming back to Memphis for the Liberty Bowl (Gig ‘em, Aggies!) and New Year’s Eve. I know by the time the spring semester begins on January 5th I will be recharged and ready to take on another busy and exciting semester. I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and I’ll check back in in January with some spring semester updates! Happy Holidays!!
Posted by Amy Dunbar at 12/22/14 | 0 comments

Fall in Rewind

Hello blogosphere!

You know it’s been busy, when I’ve been absent from the blog scene for a few months. CAN. YOU. BELIEVE. IT? In my last update I had just begun my externship rotation at Eye Care Centers of Kentucky–with eight office locations and six doctors. Fast forward to now, and I have received second-to-none clinic experience in ocular disease and cared for nearly 900 patients! My speed has definitely picked up (sayonara 1 hour exams!), and I’ve seen everything from newborns to 101 year old patients in a day’.s work! My preceptor was also very supportive in letting me shadow other doctors including a retina specialist, cataract surgeon, and dry eye disease specialist. Even more, I observed several optometrist preformed laser procedures including YAG-capsulotomy, Peripheral Iridotomy (LPI), and Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) in our office. As you may recall from one of my previous blogs, Kentucky has one of the best scope of practice laws in the nation. This affords optometrists and patients greater access to needed health care treatments in many rural towns. During my rotation, I saw optometry work to it’s fullest; I was even invited to attend a hearing at Kentucky’s state capital on a legislative bill that would protect optometrist’s role in telemedicine. Good news–it passed!

If all that wasn’t enough, I even was able to keep up my globe-trotting travels during my externship. I attended two new conferences this fall: COVD and FCO. The College Of Vision Development (COVD) Conference is focused on providing optometrists and students insight into the latest research on vision therapy and its associated conditions. There was also a poster presentation where residents shared their current research projects and an exhibit hall where I could test out the latest in vision therapy technology. COVD was held in sunny San Diego, and staying waterfront definitely didn’t disappoint! My favorite lecture was on slowing myopia (near-sightedness) progression with contact lenses in children, and I see myself incorporating this evidence-based medicine into my future practice.

The other conference I attended was the Fellowship of Christian Optometrists held in Nashville, Indiana (seriously, it’s a real place!). Actually, this conference was hosted at a lodge in a national park. It was absolutely stunning, and the lodge always had a warm fire going in the fireplace. The best part was hearing inspiring testimonials from missionary optometrists returning from the Middle East and as far as Papua, New Guinea. Of course I can’t forget the special ocular disease study session hosted by the one-and-only, KMK Kyle! It came at the perfect time as I was already in the midst of studying for NBEO Part 2.

Speaking of NBEO Part 2…I can check that exam off my to-do list (finally!). I took my last of three national boards in early December. Part 2 was completed at a computerized testing center with 150 patient cases that focused on the safe treatment and management of ocular conditions. The SCO clinic experience once again proved to be a great foundation for the materials I was tested on, with the combination of my prep materials, and my current private practice rotation, I believe I was prepared for the exam. Of course, now’s the waiting game—results won’t be released until the end of January so fingers-crossed and prayers said!!

I’m currently applying for optometric residency. I’m excited for this next journey in my optometry career and can’t wait to share with you more about the residency application process. Of course the hardest part is asking for those letters of recommendations. Even though I’ve met many optometric mentors willing to support my residency application, I’ll be the first to admit I still hold my breath right before I click the send button.

I think that catches us all up a bit better for now. Happy (belated) Thanksgiving….I’ll save my other holiday wishes for my next blog post ;)

Carpe Diem,

Posted by Amy Dunbar at 12/17/14 | 0 comments

American Academy of Optometry Meeting in Denver

As a third year here at SCO, the fall has been really busy with clinic! It has been so fun getting a better grasp on patient care at all of our different locations around Memphis! Even though we stay busy seeing patients most of the time this semester, I was able to attend the American Academy of Optometry’s meeting in Denver, CO last week. It was so much fun! As a student, I love that the school allows us to take time off to go to conferences and meetings like this one. They actually encourage it and give you a few conference days to take off each year to attend meetings like these. I have been to several other national conferences throughout my time here at SCO, but this was my first time attending the meeting for the Academy. I know you may think it is hard to attend these meetings as a “financially challenged” student, but they give away a ton of student travel grants to help pay for flights and hotels to make the trip.

At this meeting, optometrists and students come together every year for continuing education and to present research that they have been working on over the past year. Needless to say, there is a lot to learn whether you are a student or an optometrist. Students are encouraged to go to any of the educational lectures that are offered throughout the meeting, and can even become a Student Fellow if they attend the required events for it. Also there are many receptions and social events to network.

As students, we also had some down time to enjoy the city and sightsee for a bit before heading back to Memphis. It was so cold in Denver, as we were there for the first snow of the season! I’ve posted some of my pictures from my time in Denver below if you want to check it out! I am just so grateful for the opportunity to go to national meetings like this to learn more about our profession, network, see a new part of the country, and make some great memories with some of my classmates! As a student it is easy to get bogged down in school and studying, but I feel like attending these meetings is so important to our optometric education as well. I encourage everyone reading this to try your best to attend one!

The first snow of the season in Denver!

At the SCO reception with friends and classmates Brooke and Katie!

Before boarding our flight to Denver with one of our favorite staff doctors, Dr. Edmondson!

Enjoying lunch in our free time!

Exploring the city and enjoying the famous 16th Street Mall!

A picture looking down on the famous blue bear looking in on the Denver Convention Center where the meeting was held.
Posted by Amy Dunbar at 12/12/14 | 0 comments

Chattanooga Chew Chew

The beautiful city of Chattanooga has long been associated with trains. There is a popular Glenn Miller song, after all, called “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” based upon one legendary locomotive.

Perhaps it is appropriate, then, that this entire semester has felt like riding on a passenger train in which the outside scenery whizzes by in a blur. It is already December, and you haven’t heard from me yet. I am already planning out my life in Wichita for next semester…my last semester of optometry school. Yikes!

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves too much! I have yet to tell you how things have gone here so far. In a nutshell, this has been a wonderful, wonderful semester. It has actually seemed like a dream at times – I have been learning so much, and then after clinic there is much to explore and rediscover here in my ole’ undergrad town. Work and play, in a beautiful balance.

My extern clinic is awesome: SouthEast Eye Specialists. This site is a large referral center consisting of five optometrists and six ophthalmologists, each in a different specialty: two corneal specialists, oculoplastics, glaucoma, retina, and pediatrics/strabismus. As you might expect, with this many doctors under one roof, I have been able to see more than a few eyeballs this semester! Diseases rarely seen at school, I have come across several times here. Having a surgery center downstairs and procedure rooms in clinic mean that I get to watch some cool techniques and procedures as well.

Truthfully, this site has shown me how optometry and ophthalmology have the potential to meld so beautifully. Everything works like clockwork, all in the name of the best care for patients as possible. No one has a big ego, and on a regular basis I hear from patients something to the effect of ”I am so satisfied with my vision after my cataract surgery” or “Thank you for saving my vision.” When optometry and ophthalmology work together, eye diseases and disorders just don’t stand a chance.

This semester has been incredibly eventful, and I apologize for not telling you about it sooner. I’ll just list off a few things that come to mind, stream-of-consciousness style, like a chugging, churning train. All aboard! I returned to Memphis for Convocation/White Coat Ceremony and surprised my third-year girlfriend and fellow fourth-years. Go Grizzlies! I got addicted to stand-up paddleboarding. SouthEast Eye celebrated 30 years of co-management in Tennessee and threw a gigantic masquerade ball at the Hunter Museum in Chattanooga. Having passed Parts I and III, I took Part II just a few days ago. Hopefully it went alright. Nature has been my friend, and the mountains my playground. Also, I am thankful for being here with Linh, the ocular disease resident at SEES and old SVOSH pal of mine. Attended the Academy meeting in Denver and had an amazing, amazing time (but cold – temperature dipped down to -8 degrees at some point!). I have not particularly budgeted well this semester, but I regret nothing (yet). Never before have I appreciated Fall in Chattanooga as much as I have during this one. All the colors just seemed to be more spectacular than my memory can recall. I also have a greater appreciation for my time at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I’ve realized that many of my college friends will truly be lifelong friends, though distance and circumstances may separate us in the future. Likewise, during Thanksgiving break, I realized that it will be more difficult in the future for my whole family to be in the same place all at once, especially as my siblings and I uncover our futures. Cognizance of that fact just makes my time with them even more important. The more I learn, the more I realize there is so much left to learn, and I’m okay with that. My love for Chattanooga truly equals my love for Memphis, but in a different way. Oh, I attended the TAOP Fall Congress in Gatlinburg and climbed a mountain with some SCO friends. I do not regret skipping CE lectures for that or for exploring the Colorado Capitol the Friday of Academy week, especially when it became a tropical 46 degrees in Denver. Life is short. Speaking of Gatlinburg, and exiting this exhausting train of consciousness…

…while in Gatlinburg, an opportunity for employment presented itself to me, which has added quite a bit of intrigue to this Fall. I have given it serious thought and continue to chew on this possibility. Likewise, slowly but surely my classmates and I are putting together the puzzle pieces of our futures. I admit it’s not the most stress-free decision making paradigm of my life. Everything else has seemed simple in comparison. Residency? No residency? Private practice? Commercial? Who? What? When? How? Why? $? (: ?

Where? Where! Maybe that’s the biggest question I’ve personally had to grapple with. Where should I be, and who do I want to be wherever I should be?

I have remind myself to relax, and to just be me. Everything is going to be fantastic.

Posted by Amy Dunbar at 12/5/14 | 0 comments