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There's nothing like summer in the Bluegrass! The weather is mild and the sun seems to be always shining; it's been the treat I needed after finishing up my first year. It's great to be back home catching up with my family and visiting around my old stomping grounds. Both my younger brother and two cousins graduated this year from high school making this summer break full of family visits and celebrations...and let's not forget those graduation cakes!
I've recently been spending most of my time focused on Optometry's Meeting (OM) which began a few days ago. In fact, I'm writing to you all live from Chicago, this year's OM host city. As SCO's AOSA Trustee-Elect, I've been charged with creating and decorating posters and props for our 130 SCO student attendees to hold at this year's Varilux National Student Bowl competition. We've got our sights set on winning not only the Student Bowl but also the Spirit Award, so I've put together some construction-themed signage for our SCO fans to cheer on our school's Student Bowl competitor. By the end of the Student Bowl I'm sure everyone will know SCO came to win! There will be full coverage of the 2012 Optometry's Meeting in my blog post next month.
In other news, what I really want to share with you all is my first-ever volunteer experience with the The Remote Area Medical (RAM) program. RAM is a non-profit, volunteer program dedicated to serving under-served populations with free health care, dental care, and eye care in remote areas of the United States. A few weeks back I volunteered with a a group of SCO students and staff doctors to provide vision care in Pikeville, KY located high up in the Appalachian Mountains. I was given full reign to practice the skills I had learned during my first year of optometry school. By the end of this two day event (working from 6am-7pm!), I had cared for handfuls of patients putting to the test my abilities to listen to patient complaints, understand the patient histories, and determining an accurate refraction (with most patients needing some sort of bifocal correction), among other clinical skills.
All in all, 882 patients were seen during Pikeville's RAM event with 455 free eyeglasses distributed to over 407 vision patients. And while most patients were from the Pikeville area, some patients travelled as far as West Virginia and Virginia to be treated for their vision problems. That in itself shows just how important RAM is in providing access to quality vision care to these under-served populations. Even more, this means there are people around Pikeville wearing the glasses prescription I determined for them...and did I mention I just finished my first year? How cool is that?!
My favorite part of RAM was interacting with the patients. They put a lot of trust into my skills. That gave me the extra confidence boost needed to prove to myself I really was prepared to care for their vision needs. Moreover, the people of Pikeville were so gracious for RAM coming to their town that they showed us nothing but the best in human hospitality. Just as much as the people of Pikeville were thankful for RAM's presence in their town, I was thankful for this eye-opening experience.
I have found my niche in serving rural Americans with necessary eye care . Undoubtedly, I was positively impacted by RAM's mission to provide free health services and can see myself volunteering with RAM for many more years to come. I'm already looking forward to attending the next RAM trip in my hometown of Somerset, KY in September.
Here's to my last summer vacation for a long time!
[caption id="attachment_2114" align="aligncenter" width="150" caption="Congrats to my lil' bro for graduating high school!"][/caption]