I recently finished my first externship, and I’ve come up with some of my favorite things about being a 4th year student on rotation. It’s completely different from being at The Eye Center, so here is my list of favorite things in no particular order….
1. Technicians! At a children’s hospital, it is super awesome not to have to dilate the kids myself. One, they don’t hate you and associate you with burning eyes, and two, my ears appreciate not experiencing the crying that sometimes accompanies eye drops. Also, technicians can check VAs, history, review of systems, stereoacuity, pressures and more. They are a great way to save your sanity and time.
2. Cyclopentolate. Kids don’t look where they are ‘supposed’ to look, so knocking out their accommodation, when needed, makes a world of difference.
3. Info you need vs. Info you want. There is information that you need to help the patient, in order to bill correctly, or just to understand what is really going on. There is also information you want or would like, but don’t really need. If you scope a patient and know their refractive error then you don’t really need their visual acuities to make sure they can see. Imagine you have a nonverbal patient, all you really need is to get a look, because they can’t tell you.
4. Chance to specialize. If you pull up my patient encounters for the summer, I have a zero next to geriatrics, and I am not mad about it. I understand the importance of having experience in lots of different areas, but I also appreciate finding something that you like and exploring that in depth.
5. Follow-ups. I get to see my own! What happened to that corneal abrasion? Or herpes dendrite? At a big clinic, you often don’t get the chance to see the patient again, but when you are working under the same doctors every day, you get to know your patients as they come back often.
6. Real life learning. I haven’t been in a classroom in months, but I am still learning so much on a daily basis. And because I’m not in the lab or classroom, I have a lot more time to have a life outside of school. I moved to Kansas City, a city that spans two states that I had never stepped foot in, and had so much fun.
Externships are a time to experience new places, and figure out what you want to do when you are out of school. 4th year tells you what techniques work for you and what you still need to work on (everything…), while still being backed by SCO and your preceptor. My advice, don’t go home just because your boyfriend is there, or to a practice because you know the owner. Go check out a new city/state/region of the country because the area is cool, and because the clinic actually interests you and will keep you on your toes.