Student Life Blogs | Southern College of Optometry
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Those who guided me towards optometry

Hey there readers!

Today I'd like to share with you about the individuals who influenced me to choose optometry as my profession of choice. It's funny because I have been wearing glasses since I was in the third grade but I never really considered optometry as a profession until I was in my last few years of my undergraduate career. Prior to attending the University of Central Florida, I knew I wanted to go into health care because I had an interest in science and to someday, take care of patients. Besides that, I didn't really know what route I wanted to take.

I took some courses that discussed the different fields of health care and decided I had to shadow and figure out what really caught my interest. Well, I shadowed a bit in a vet's office and a bit in a hospice and then I went on to pursue an internship with the forensic medical examiners in my hometown of Sarasota, FL. I really enjoyed my internship with the medical examiners and discovered my true passion for the medical field and anatomy/physiology. However, I couldn't really envision myself as a medical examiner for the rest of my life. 

Ironically, during my summer of interning with the medical examiners, I had my yearly examine with my optometrist. Naturally, she asked me questions about how I was and what I had been up to and I explained to her about my internship and my interests in health care. She suggested I shadow in the field of optometry and told me about her profession. She told me that my personality would be great for optometry and I should just check it out and see if it was something I'd be interested in. Well, it all started there. I had finished my internship with the medical examiners and began shadowing several different optometrists in the Orlando area.

I landed a job at Magruder Eye Institute, which consisted of a mix of ophthalmologists and optometrists. I gained a lot of experience at that practice and adored everyone that I worked with. I became very close to the physicians at that practice and they all encouraged me throughout my process of applying to optometry school and pursuing a career in eye/vision care.

Once I had graduated from UCF, been accepted to optometry school and decided to move back to my hometown before beginning optometry school, I met and began working for a phenomenal optometrist in Sarasota. He is an alumnus from Southern College of Optometry and has been in practice for over 30 years. He gave me great advice and lots of personal training in the field of optometry before I began my optometric career at SCO. Thankfully, I have been able to stay in touch with him and receive advice on anything I am unsure about.

I am so grateful to have had several different mentors to guide me towards my future profession in optometry. Whether you are an optometry student or are thinking about optometry as a possible profession, I think it is very important to build a relationship with someone who you can go to if you ever have any questions, need advice or encouragement. It has helped me so much throughout the years!

at 7/10/17 | 0 comments

Vision Empowers: A Trip to Tanzania

One of my favorite memories as a kid was being able to go with my dad and a few other eye doctors on a humanitarian trip to Guatemala. At the time, I had very limited optometry knowledge but was able to help them provide glasses to the locals after they had received comprehensive eye exams – many of them for the first time in their lives. It was such a memorable experience and I remember thinking that if I ever went into optometry I’d love to many similar trips in my career.

My first opportunity came a lot sooner than I thought it would and in a way I hardly expected. Last fall, the AOSA sent out an email asking for applicants for a mission trip through Luxottica’s non-profit organization OneSight. They had agreed to pay for 25 optometry students to participate in a clinic in Tanzania. I had barely even heard of Tanzania but I knew it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.

Early this spring, I woke up to an email from the AOSA President informing me that I was one of the 25 students who had been selected to go! I couldn’t believe it! I found out that we would be setting up a 5-day clinic in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in the 2nd week of May which luckily coincided with my break between semesters. There was a lot of preparation but after completing all my shots and visa application, I was on my way to Africa!

I met up with the rest of the group which consisted of 24 other students, 12 optometrists, and around 15 Luxottica staff from all over the country. I was immediately impressed with their dedication to optometry and their desire to serve. I really cannot think of a better combination of people to be with in that clinic! We set up the clinic which was located at a local university and met the local volunteers who would be translating for us. (Dar es Salaam is the largest Swahili-speaking city in Africa so we depended heavily on the interpreters all week.)

When we showed up to the clinic on the first day, there was an endless line of patients huddled under rain canopies awaiting their turn to be seen. We immediately went to work and took our turn each day at different stations including Visual Acuities, IOP, Dilation, Ocular Health, Refraction, Manufacturing, and Dispensing. 

It was one of the first times that I saw patients in a comprehensive exam setting so I was a bit nervous at first, but I quickly got into a groove. It was incredible to watch the whole process of patients getting their health and refractive concerns addressed. Even though I had limited clinic experience at that point in my education, I felt very prepared from all of my labs and classes.

One of my favorite experiences came from a 50-60 year old patient I performed a refraction on who was a moderately high hyperope with a lot of astigmatism. He had a single pair of +0.50 glasses for reading and said that all he wanted was a new pair of readers to replace the ones he currently had. When I told him we could also provide him with a pair of glasses that would improve his distance vision he was perplexed. He hadn't ever had any complaints of his distance vision and thought he'd be satisfied with just readers, but thought it might be worth a shot to see if there was any improvement. I trial-framed his Rx and took him over to the open door. "This is how you are currently seeing the world" I said. Placing the trial frame on I then said, "This is how you could be seeing it." A very visible, very toothy smile immediately came across his face and he started pointing out things in the distance and naming them. Turning to me, he simply said "I like this!"

There were both hot sunny days as well as wet torrential downpours, but the line outside grew longer by each day. If I had gone to Tanzania and had helped only a handful of people to regain their vision, I would have considered it a success. However, we saw a total of 3528 patients all week with Thursday being our busiest day at 931! It’s certainly difficult to put into a single blog post all the experiences I had in Tanzania. It was a once in a lifetime trip with memories and people I hope to always remember. More importantly, it reaffirmed to me how grateful I am to be a part of a profession that is capable of empowering people with the gift of sight.

at 7/7/17 | 0 comments

Time flies...

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Time flies!!! First Year is officially over and it was seriously amazing! I just can't believe it's already over. However, I am so excited for this summer ahead. I'm not sure if you're aware but the end of first year is the only summer that you really have off. Second and third year summer consist of working in clinic and externships. Which does sound like fun to me but it also sounds wonderful to have a break for a while. Therefore, I will definitely be enjoying this time away from studying.

I'm not going to lie, it has felt weird not having much responsibility for the last few days but it's been really nice to relax and catch up on lots of things that I've been putting on hold during the school year. I've been able to watch lots of TV shows and movies as well as explore Memphis. Yesterday, my husband and I spent the day as tourists. We went out to breakfast at Brother Juniper's (AMAZING!!), went on a tour at Sun Studios and visited the Memphis Zoo. Plus, the weather was absolutely perfect.

Attached are some photos that my husband took on our trip at the zoo. They're some of my all-time favorites! :)

at 5/5/17 | 0 comments

Now What?!?

Hey everyone!

It seems like a million years have passed since I last visited this space, but that’s just because I finally took part I of NBEO! I’m so proud of all of the work my class has put into preparing and taking this test. We won’t find out our results until May, so right now I’m trying to put it on the back burner and hope for the best!

Now that Boards are over, I have been trying to figure out what the next few years will be like. It seems crazy to think about, but the reality is that I will be leaving Memphis in just a few short months, and in another year I will be graduating and able to practice on my own. The past few weeks have been spent doing a lot of resume updating, soul searching, and talking to the staff doctors about their experiences. I’m in a unique situation because my fiancé is in the military, and we will most likely be moving around a bit, at least for the first few years if he decides to stay in. There are several options for me, and I’m considering all of them at this point—whether that is being employed by a private practice, working for a corporate company, or pursuing a residency at a VA or elsewhere.

While I still don’t know exactly which path I will take, I’m excited to continue to look into more possibilities, and I’m feeling thankful that I’ve chosen a profession that will allow me so many different choices!

The rest of the semester is going to be filled with finishing classes, finishing clinic,  a little bit of wedding planning, and hanging out with friends as much as possible before we all spread out for externs. I am loving having a bit of downtime now that the majority of the studying is done, and I’m trying to soak up the freedom while I can! I hope you are all having a beautiful spring!

at 4/4/17 | 0 comments

Home stretch!

Hello readers! Things have been busy with my institutional externship lately and I realized today that I haven't posted recently with our updates about "what comes next." In my last post I talked about the long process of applying and interviewing for jobs. Now I'm thrilled to share that in February I accepted an offer as an associate optometrist at a large private practice in my home town of The Woodlands, TX!  I originally found the job listing on the AOA website and I flew home to Texas for an interview the week after my initial phone interview because I could tell right away that it would be a great fit if they hired me. It's a multi-doctor private practice with multiple locations and it will be a fantastic group to join. I can't wait to get started this summer and to finally be out on my own doing what I've worked for so many years to do. It's a great feeling!

While I was interviewing for jobs, my husband Ben was interviewing for residency positions. He ended up applying for two residency programs: an Ocular Disease/Ocular Surgery residency at Eye Center of Texas (a referral and surgical center) and a Primary Care residency at the DeBakey VAMC in Houston. The interviews were tough and the application process was a little nerve wracking at times, but earlier this month we found out he matched with his top ranked position at Eye Center of Texas! It's a competitive site and I'm one proud wife. I know Ben will do a great job there and he'll learn SO much in one year.

Now that we both have employment lined up, we're working on figuring out the details of our big move back to Houston, TX. Our four years in Memphis have been wonderful but we're so excited to be living near our families again soon! It's so hard to believe that we're only a little over one month away from graduation. We found out in January that we both passed all three sections of our National Boards, so we really are in the home stretch now! The past few years have been a whirlwind but I definitely feel excited and more importantly, PREPARED!

Thanks for reading!

-Lisa :)

at 3/22/17 | 0 comments