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Wow. Two busy weekends back to back. It's been great, but I'm exhausted.
SECO- The South East Congress of Optometry was held 2 weeks ago during SCO's spring break. Road trip! I relaxed the first part of spring break and then it was time to hit the road. A friend and I left for Atlanta at 4:30am Friday morning, drove through a storm, and then made it to Atlanta just in time for lunch. Perfect. Then, it was time to find out what SECO was really all about.
The first thing I did was visit Optometry's Marketplace which is a large optometry expo. There was so much instrumentation and software to look at that it was almost overwhelming. I spent 3 hours walking up and down the aisles and talking to reps. It was great to see what's out there right now without having any pressure to buy. As a student, all of my equipment has been selected for me so the marketplace gave me an opportunity to evaluate the other options. Some of the most impressive things I saw were the VSP Mobile Eyes van and an electronic medical record system called EMA.
After the marketplace, I was able to attend the SCO Alumni Reception held in the Marriott Marquis. The building is breathtaking. During the Alumni reception, the Atlanta Falcon Drum line performed and it was stunning. It was a great way to prepare for what followed....the announcement of the new building and the "Envision our Progress" campaign. It was a great program.
After the reception, it was time for the Student Party and then bed because student classes started at 9am on Saturday. Each of the 3 student classes presented Tuesday was good, but I was definitely tired by the end. The topics covered included social media, prescribing, and glaucoma. All very relevant to us as students. Then, it was time for the 6 1/2 drive back to Memphis. Two days packed with information and optometry. On a whole, SECO really helped me feel part of the optometry community instead of just being a student. I would highly recommend it to any optometry student.
[caption id="attachment_1764" align="aligncenter" width="150" caption="Inside the Marriott Marquis Atlanta"][/caption]
RAM- After another busy week the weekend rolled around again. It was time for RAM. The 10 of us piled into a pile and drove the 6 1/2 hours to Evensville, TN. I kept thinking to myself as we drove, "I sure hope I don't make 6 1/2 hour car trips a habit." After some check-in delays, we finally got to bed around midnight only to wake up at 4:30 the next morning to get ready and head to the RAM clinic.
Now RAM stands for Remote Area Medical and what we do is provide free eye exams to people who wouldn't be able to ever get one on their own. We were also teamed up with dentistry so that they could get their teeth cleaned, filled, and extracted if necessary. When we got to the high school where the clinic was set up, people had already been in line since the 5pm the day before. Wow.
Saturday was a BUSY day that pushed my abilities to their limits. Because we only had 1 doctor and no 3rd year students (due to upcoming Boards), we all had to step it up. Official numbers haven't come out yet, but last I knew we saw around 240 patients on Saturday. After spending 12 hours doing eye exams, I was asleep by 8:30. Sunday was more of what we saw on Saturday, except that we finished at noon so that we could get back to Memphis. Was RAM hard? Yes. What is tiring? Yes. Would I do it again? Absolutely. It was very rewarding to help people that so obviously needed our knowledge. In the process I was also able to apply the skills I've learned so far in a very real-world situation. Using the slit lamp to evaluate someone's eyes is a whole different story when you're actually looking for abnormalities. I had a great time and learned a ton. A big thank you to Dr. Sparrow for helping me with my refraction and glasses prescriptions and to the 4th years (Jasmin, Stephanie, and Shannon) for all their patience in helping me behind the slit lamp!