What's Next?

All A-Boards!

Happy 2017, everyone!

It seems like forever since I’ve written, but that’s because it’s been a busy past few months!

Last semester finished well for me, but now I can’t believe I am a few weeks into my last semester of classes at SCO. After this semester, my classmates and I will be spread out all over the country doing externships. Luckily for us, we still have one huge and terrifying hurdle to conquer before that, which will be sure to bond us together—Boards!

As third years, we will take the first part of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry exam in March. Part II is in December 2017, and Part III can be anywhere from August 2017 until March 2018 (this is the hands-on/practical portion of boards, and I plan on getting it over with as early as I can!).

I think that everyone probably prepares for this portion of the test in his or her own way. It’s really easy to get caught up in how much someone else is studying, but really it’s an individual sport all the way.

I started studying over Thanksgiving break, by reading the KMK review books that I purchased (most of my class ordered these as well), and continued as much as I could through Christmas break. Our class has also had some review sessions in the mornings with various professors to go over some more challenging concepts. In addition to that, those of us who bought the KMK review course had our first review weekend a few weeks ago, so it’s pretty much in full-swing.

Other than boards, this semester is mostly about me trying to gain as much clinical experience as I can before externs start in a few short months. We still have 4 classes outside of boards studying, and we are in clinic 3 days a week as well. I have a feeling May is going to be here before I know it!

All of the studying aside, one of my goals for the year is to try to keep everything in a good balance, so I took this past weekend off to head to Colorado to visit my fiancé. It was a great mini-break, and now I feel refreshed and ready to take on all that this semester continues to offer.

at 1/19/17 | 0 comments

What comes next?

Happy New Year! Last time I wrote I had just finished Part II (my final part) of my National Boards exams and was wrapping up at my fall private practice externship site. Since then I enjoyed a trip back home to Texas for the holidays, found out I passed Part III of Boards and my injections exam (woo!), and began my third and final externship rotation at Olive Branch Eye Care & Charles Retina Institute. So far things are going great at my new rotation! It's an awesome site because I'm getting to see patients in a private practice setting most of the time but I'm also getting the opportunity to work alongside ophthalmologists in multiple settings. It'll be a unique opportunity to work in primary care, cataract/refractive surgery, and vitreoretinal surgery settings all in one rotation and I know I'll learn a ton over the next few months!

I'll write in a month or so with more specifics on my rotation once I've been working there for a bit longer, but for now I thought I'd talk a little bit about what comes after graduation for me. I'm in the process of applying for jobs now and trying to make sure I find the perfect fit. So far I've interviewed at a refractive surgery center, a hospital, an on-site elementary school eye exam program, a corporate practice, and three different private practices. I know that sounds excessive, but I'm just trying to keep as many options open as I can! It's been a very interesting experience interviewing in all these different settings and I'm looking forward to seeing where I end up in May. Each position I've applied for has totally different hours, equipment, staff, expectations, responsibilities... you name it. I didn't know there would be this many factors to consider when applying for jobs! By the end of this month I'll be done with all of my in-person interviews and it'll be time to really sit down and figure out where I want to be. But for now I'm enjoying exploring all of these opportunities! One question I've heard a lot of students ask is where to find job opportunities. I've found them through SCO's Hayes Center match site, an optometry recruiting company, general job search websites, word of mouth, and from the AOA website. I was worried that it would be difficult applying for jobs in Houston when I'm living in Memphis, but it hasn't been too bad and I've still been able to find plenty.

Next time I write I should have an update on all of this! If you have any questions about my job search experience feel free to send me a message. I'm learning as I go but I'm excited for the future!

at 1/18/17 | 0 comments

Hello 2017!

Happy New Year!!!

I am so excited about the year 2017 and all it has in store!

Here in Memphis, we started the new year off with a very exciting SNOW DAY! I haven't seen snow since I lived in Massachusetts back in 2008. I really missed making snow angels, snowmen and most of all, sitting in all day drinking hot cocoa and watching television :) So cliche, I know.

I will say, this winter break was very much needed. Last semester was exhausting. It took a lot of organization, determination and self-discipline. Though we did have a thanksgiving break last semester, it was shortly before our final exams so it didn't leave much time for relaxation. However, having our grades come to a close and no school work to think about, this winter break was the best yet. It gave me time to reflect on my first semester and absorb all that I had learned. I traveled back home to Florida, and enjoyed Christmas with my family as well as a few days at the beach. I now feel refreshed for the new semester at hand.

Several of my classes this semester are a continuation of last semester's courses such as Optics of the Eye II, Theory and Methods II and Anatomy, Histology and Physiology II. However, we do have a few new classes such as Optometric Practice, Ophthalmic Optics, Ocular Motility, and Visual Sensation and Perception. Though I'm not sure of the difficulty of the material this semester, I definitely feel more prepared to handle the course load than I did last semester. Last semester was a learning experience and I feel once you realize how you need to study to prepare for the exams, it's not as challenging. I'd say that's half the battle of Optometry school. I found that reviewing what I've learned each day is most effective for me. That way, I can follow along well in the following class period because I have a good understanding of the most recent material we've learned.

On a different note, we have a lot of exciting events coming up this month. Next week, we have State Day, where we have the opportunity to network with representatives from all over the country as well as the AOA president, Dr. Andrea Thau. We also have the EyeBall event. The EyeBall event is a semi-formal SCO dance. I've heard from lots of older students that this event is one of the most fun!! I'll make sure to keep you updated!

Stay tuned.

at 1/7/17 | 0 comments

My Reason Why

2016 is in the books! I heard a great piece of wisdom the other day when someone was speaking about New Year resolutions. He said, "When making a goal to change in some way, record why you are making that change and reference it daily." I felt like this was incredibly insightful and applicable to my optometric education.

It's amazing to realize how far I've come over the past year, and it has been an extremely rewarding experience. Second year has been full of challenges, but through my labs and classes I feel so much closer to being able to put my skills to use in the clinic. It's crazy to think about how soon that will be. This semester I'll have my Pre-clinic checkouts in March and afterward will start seeing patients in The Eye Center. Luckily I have already had some amazing patient encounters that will prepare me for then. One of the second year labs involves providing vision screenings weekly at local elementary schools and shadowing in The Eye Center. Both experiences have been extremely helpful in teaching me how to manage patient encounters and use my skills in a real setting. I loved being able to work with the elementary school children. Although it took some creativity to learn how to perform retinoscopy on 3 year olds, it showed me how far I had come in my education. Shadowing in the Eye Center was also rewarding and allowed me to see both the business and practice portions of the clinic are run. One of my favorite encounters was during my shift in Low Vision where I was able to help student interns as they provided care, tools, and resources to the patients that helped them become visually functional. From pediatric to geriatric patients, it was incredible to see how grateful they were just to have the ability to read again.

Aside from the normal screening and shadowing rotation, my lab group had the privilege of participating in Project Homeless Connect. This event, put on by the City of Memphis, involved 339 volunteers serving over 400 of Memphis's homeless population. Several health care teams, housing assistants, and employment agencies gave much needed resources to those who attended this event at the Cook Convention Center. SCO had a large team of doctors, residents, and student interns providing free comprehensive eye exams. As second years, we were responsible for refraction, chair skills, and anterior/posterior segment evaluation. Doctors were on-hand to provide additional care for anything that we were uncertain of. Follow-up appointments were made for those who needed additional services such as disease treatment or dispensing glasses free of charge. The event was an amazing experience I am honored to have participated in. It was incredible to both see how much I was able to help and how grateful the attendees were for that help.

I'm looking forward to the additional experiences I'll have this coming semester. As challenging as it is, it is rewarding to have experiences like these to help keep my focus on why I am going through the rigors of school each day.

at 1/4/17 | 0 comments

Part II and the end of my fall rotation

I'm back again this month to talk about another boards exam that I have behind me now: Part II! I took Part II last Thursday which (hopefully) means I'm done with all three parts of our National Boards exams. Part II is different from the other two parts in that it's a multiple choice exam (like part I), but the questions are all case-based and focused on patient management and the diagnosis and treatment of ocular diseases. Luckily since we've all been seeing patients for a year and a half now, studying for this exam wasn't quite as tough because we have clinical experience to back up a lot of the more common diseases and clinical findings. I'm seeing a lot of pathology at the private practice site I'm working at right now which definitely helped since I've been exposed to a lot of clinical decision-making. This exam was 350 questions long (a lot shorter than part I) and it was the first exam we've taken that was computer-based. We took it at a local testing center in Memphis but there are centers all over the country for my classmates who are away on externships. We will all be playing the waiting game for a while because we don't get our scores back until the end of January, but for now it's nice to not have ANY upcoming exams to worry about for the first time in many years!

Meanwhile, we only have one week left of our fall rotation. This one went by even faster than the summer semester did for me because I was busy preparing for last 2 parts of boards in November and December (and with preparing for the holidays!). This year I'm more excited than ever to go home to Houston for Christmas because my older sister had her first baby a couple of weeks ago (photos below!) and I'm counting down the days until I get to finally meet her! Ben and I have four nephews but this is our first niece and we just can't wait to spoil her. Our plan is to settle back in the greater Houston area after we graduate in May, so we'll be close and will get to see our niece and nephews much more often!

With graduation less than 5 months away, there are a lot of big decisions for us to make in the near future. My husband is applying for two Ocular Disease residency positions in Houston and I'm in the process of applying and interviewing for jobs now, so hopefully we'll have some things figured out in the next couple of months. We both have interviews lined up in the Houston area when we're home for Christmas, so the break will be a mix of work and play. In the meantime we're looking forward to enjoying the holidays with our family and to hopefully getting good news from the NBEO twice next month! Happy Holidays and enjoy these beautiful photos of my precious niece, Riley Elizabeth:

And just because I'm in the Christmas spirit, here's a picture of our Christmas card this year. Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

at 12/11/16 | 0 comments