Like any endeavor worth pursuing in life, it takes careful preparation to become an optometrist.
Students are at the heart of our mission.
Get involved in our thriving alumni community.
SCO is one of the nation's leading optometry schools.
Take time to recognize these significant achievements.
Enter a search request and press enter. Press Esc or the X to close.
My first year of optometry school just flew by in a flash! This week, which is two weeks into my second year, we are learning basic slit lamp techniques. It feels like just yesterday that we were first acquainting ourselves to the Theory and Methods lab (where you will learn optometry exam techniques). Looking back on my first year, I am so thankful for the great friends and study partners, which are one in the same now, that I have found in this incredible program. I couldn’t possibly learn all the information that is thrown at us without them - think a cannon ball of information that bursts into detail confetti that you have to pick up and thrust into an exam piñata. Nice visual, right? Sure, first year was often challenging but usually the moments of panic precede the moments of clarity and understanding – a fair trade-off in a professional school program, I think! We get by with a little help from our friends certainly, but we are also supported immensely by our professors and school staff.
Some of our professors say that the summer between the first and second year is “the last summer of your lives”. They say this as an inside joke but we all honestly feel that it might be. Before the break, we were encouraged to shadow optometrists in Memphis and our hometowns, embark on optometry medical trips, volunteer our time to local organizations, and well, study (you can’t escape it) for our upcoming summer mini-term semester. A good friend of mine was able to practice her refraction, chair skills, and Spanish interpretation in Colombia as a member of the SCO chapter of SVOSH. She was able to be a part of a larger effort to provide much-needed medical care while experiencing the Colombian culture. Another friend of mine participated in the SCO summer research program, creating her own scientific study to observe the effects of myopia incidence in school-aged patients. Some of my classmates spent their time working at optometry practices in their hometown or in Memphis. Some of my classmates observed in career shadowing with professors at the school or around town. I spent most of my summer selfishly: travelling and relaxing with some great novels! I was very excited to make time in my verrry busy schedule to volunteer on campus for an event that Dr. Dumas and Dr. Zarn orchestrated to encourage high school students to pursue careers in healthcare. The event ended in a hilarious student race around a conference room while wearing yoked prism glasses! Imagine running around and around a baseball bat then trying to walk in a straight line – the prism glasses shift everything in the room to the right or left dramatically. The students had a great time and I felt very grateful to be given the opportunity.
During our first day at optometry school orientation, one of our professors told us that no matter what we thought we are getting ourselves into, none of our previous experiences could have prepared us for optometry school. Even though I learned so much about eye care as an optometric and ophthalmic technician, she got it absolutely 100% spot-on. My experience didn’t even skim the surface of what I learned in my first year of optometry school! Now, your experiences will go a long way in preparation for an undertaking like this but every so often you might think you’re a little in over your head. I have been so humbled, and at times overjoyed, by the high standards that SCO has set for us. I can speak from personal experience here: it’s as simple as picking yourself up, reviewing your exams, putting in the work, and reminding yourself how you want to learn everything you can to treat the patients in your community.
My name is Christopher Pope. I am a rising second year from the great state of Utah. My wife, Annaliese, and I made the 1,500-mile drive from Utah to Memphis last year. It was quite the daunting move as neither of us has lived in this area of the country before. She works at a local hospital in the laboratory while I spend much of my time here at SCO! Even though school is busy there is time to enjoy with family and friends! We have found many entertaining activities to do over the past year. Some of which have been catching a live concert while eating chicken and waffles at BB Kings on Beale Street, walking through the beautifully landscaped Shelby Farms and taking a weekend trip to Nashville to check out historic sites while attending more concerts. Make sure to study efficiently and make time to get out and enjoy the fun city we live in!
I am blown away that my first year is in the rear-view mirror! Wow. Pretty amazing to look back and reflect on student orientation and the beginning of the school year. Take advantage of being a student here! This is prime time! SCO offers amazing educational and clinical programs that will pass by like any other semester unless you dig in, get involved and positively push forward. You are where you choose to be! I have found that striving to stay positive has helped me cope with difficult classes and other life obstacles. We have each other to lean on when times get stressful and tough. Ask for help and support will come your way. Remember that your SCO experience is what you make of it!
The professors did a good job helping me adjust to a more rigorous schedule by reviewing material that was taught in undergrad and, then, gradually introducing new material. After I got a few weeks under my belt the pace began to pick up. The first of everything was a little stressful. Lab practicals were something that I had never previously been exposed to. My good friend, the schematic eye, and I spent many hours together in the lab practicing for the first retinoscopy practical exam! After it was over, I knew that things were going to work out. Thankfully, SCO provides many resources you will need to succeed! If those doctors who just graduated in May could do it then we can too!
I hope you are looking forward to your time here at SCO. You will become a part of a loving family. I feel cared for here and I am sure you will as well. Enjoy the rest of the summer!
All the best,
My wife, Annaliese, and I at the White Coat Ceremony
Hi y’all! :)
I’m officially a 4th-year optometry student!!! How crazy! It’s such a bittersweet feeling to be completely done with my didactic career at SCO. Yes, I’m very very excited to no longer have to take an SCO exam again but I’m also extremely sad that time has gone so quickly. I just cannot believe that I’ve already been in Memphis three years and have taken hundreds of exams at the school. A lot of my classmates are no longer on campus because they have headed out to their fourth-year externships. I, however, will be staying in Memphis for my first rotation at the Eye Center- so my official goodbye to Memphis will be in August. :(
At the end of third-year, we had a much needed two-week break. I went home, to Florida, and enjoyed some much-needed family and beach time with my husband! It was so much fun! This trip was a special one because while I was home, NBEO part 1 scores were released and I found out that I PASSED!!! It had been six weeks since we took the exam so figuring out the results was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. After a wonderful trip home, it was much easier to head back to Memphis knowing there are only three more months before moving to Florida- near family! I’m so excited to enjoy these last few months in Memphis. I will be soaking up every minute! (Especially now that studying is finally over)
Externships are such an exciting time! As I’ve mentioned in my previous blog post, I will be rotating through the Daytona Beach VA hospital in the fall semester and then Coastal Vision private practice in Fernandina Beach, FL in the spring. I’m really excited about the clinical experience I’ll be receiving at those sites. I’m grateful that SCO requires an institutional rotation as well as a private practice rotation because I am sure they will be very different from one another. I have heard that the VA hospital will provide a lot of additional experience, particularly in ocular disease and I am excited to learn more about how to run a private practice while in Fernandina Beach- since my goal is to be in private practice post-graduation.
As of right now, I am two days into my SCO externship. Yesterday I spent half of my day in low vision clinic and the other half in vision therapy. Today I was at one of SCO’s satellite clinics at the University of Memphis (in a more private practice setting). Tomorrow, I will be in pediatric clinic. Each area of the clinic is so unique and provides such a great learning experience. It’s definitely been an adjustment to get used to clinic all day, every day and no classes but I have been loving it so far. I’m sure it’ll take a few weeks to get fully adjusted but I’m super excited about what the rest of the summer has in store.
I’ll make sure to keep you updated about how externs turn out…for now, here is a picture of my last first day of school, ever! :)
As a quick reminder, my name is Pooja Alloju and I am currently a second year from Dallas, TX. You know how I found myself at SCO, so now I figured I should talk about my time here!
Last week was one heck of a week… literally. We just had our first midterm week for the spring semester. If you don’t know, SCO schedules all of our exams into a one week period, and though that sounds awful- it’s really not that bad. At first, it was daunting. I was pretty bad at managing my time so by the latter half of the week I felt like I was scrambling. Now that I’ve been through 10 exam weeks, I think I’ve gotten the hang of it!
So, after a week of stress, what do I do to wind down? Usually, it would have been a whole weekend of sleeping and binge-watching “Stranger Things” or “The Punisher” while stuffing my face with pizza, but this weekend was actually different (still had pizza, that will always be a constant.) SCO held their annual “Eyeball” event at Old Dominick’s Distillery.
Eyeball isn’t some fancy ball where you find your prince charming, well I mean I guess you could… I fortunately brought mine. Anyway, it’s a social event held by SCO. Basically, it is a night filled with dancing, great friends, music, and meatballs. Yes, I said meatballs. Ms. Melissa, who runs SCO’s on-campus eatery Blink, made us appetizers for the event. If you’ve already interviewed at SCO, Ms. Melissa makes the famous bread pudding, so you can only imagine how good these meatballs are! And if you have yet to interview, now you have something else to look forward to!
Like I’ve mentioned time and time again, SCO always does such a great job in bringing together like-minded individuals, but it’s not only that. They make us feel welcome and at home here. Events like this have made my transition to Memphis so much easier and I can definitely say, Memphis has become a home away from home.
Pro tip: red lipstick is great for concealing dark circles caused by exams
You can’t see them, but the meatballs are somewhere back there
Hi, all! I’d like to talk about something I’ve become involved in that has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done at SCO (and that’s saying a lot!). I’m working on getting my second semester of second year underway, and still the best advice I can offer to any student is to get involved. During first year, I was given the opportunity to be on the executive council for an up and coming idea. It started with a small group of students that wanted a volunteer opportunity in which SCO students could work alongside SCO alumni. Here’s the catch: We wanted all the volunteer opportunities to be non-eye related. We wanted a chance to serve all of Memphis – not just their eyes.
Starting out, we didn’t even have a name for this event. The executive council, made up of four students, met with SCO faculty to create this day of service from the ground up. We came up with the name (Eye Serve Memphis), the logo, the schedule, which volunteer organizations we wanted to partner with – everything. It was amazing to be here at SCO and have all these faculty letting us, the students, take charge of this event. Of course, they were always there with advice and help when we needed it, but largely it was up to us to organize this day. After about a year of planning, we were able to bring almost 100 students and alumni together to volunteer at various locations around Memphis that involved multiple volunteer organizations, such as Memphis Animal Services, Dorothy Day House, and Memphis Medical District Collaborative. I can’t even describe the overwhelming sense of accomplishment I felt when I watched the volunteers board the buses to head to their respective sites. All of our hard work and planning had finally come together. After the event was over, everyone met for lunch and got to talk about the wonderful experiences they had. The four students that comprised the executive council, myself included, even got to present to the SCO alumni council about how our day of service went and how we can make it even better next year.
Overall, I just want to emphasize how open SCO is to new things and how willing they are to let their students take the lead. I’m amazed at how we were able to create an entire event from the ground up that was heavily student-led. SCO is a very empowering school where you can make your own opportunities.
Now, I’m just looking forward to Eye Serve Memphis 2019!