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First year clinical experience and finals

As I am writing this blog post, I am sitting in a first-floor study room at SCO looking over my notes for my final exams. I’m thinking of all the topics we have covered so far and I cannot believe how fast the time has flown by in my first semester of optometry school! I feel prepared but I also want to make sure that I understand the concepts and how each concept can be a clinical case. My professors have focused on details of many topics, such as general and ocular physiology but each professor has included clinical applications as well. From what I learned during my interviews at a few different schools last year, you can’t escape the large amount of information that we must learn in school, but each school is different in their approach. One reason why I chose SCO is because of the clinical focus that our program offers from the very first day of class.

In our short time as first-year optometry students (how has it been only 3 months?), we have already learned so much about eyecare from a didactic and clinical point of view. Our first-year Theory and Methods lab has allowed us to gain hands-on experience with clinical tools that diagnose eye conditions like phorias and tropias and has given us the ability to correct for refractive error. I’m not perfect yet, but I can now perform manifest refraction and keratometry! We have already been given our lens kits and diagnostic kits (used mostly for retinoscopy, for now). Receiving your lens and diagnostic kits feel better than Christmas morning! The coursework can become voluminous at times, so being in the lab can be a great reminder to reset my perspective. I always feel energized leaving lab because I always feel slightly closer to becoming an optometric physician. Our lab professors understand what we need to develop our clinical skills and I trust that I am in very good hands. They have been so patient with us in lab and in class, giving us the encouragement that we need, to keep us all on track.

The professors are honestly some of the best professors that I have ever had. I genuinely love what I am learning and I get excited to hear what my professors have to say every time I go into class. The instructors are no longer experts in very different careers like in undergrad because they are, for the great majority, practicing optometrists. They are not only inspiring orators and mentors, but also experienced optometrists who frequently captivate us with their clinical cases. They enjoy making time for us to ask questions and visit their office. I can’t say enough good things about SCO and the faculty and staff that we have at the school!

Even though I feel supported here, I am challenged in ways that I could not have prepared myself before optometry school. The coursework is geared towards developing us as diagnostic clinicians but we still have a great deal of knowledge to obtain for our exams and for NBEO or “boards” eventually. I agree with most folks that people in our program do better if they know how to manage their time well and know how to set and achieve realistic goals. I feel like many school programs lend well to those kinds of students in general. However, at SCO, I have had to change the way that I understand in ways that are clinically relevant. I am learning so much information about general anatomy and neuroanatomy, but most of our classes are geared toward the physiology and optics of the eye. I appreciate that we are being immersed in eye-related information in such a quick pace because that is the most exciting part of what we are learning!

I could go on about how much I love optometry and SCO, but I have to skedaddle for now to study for our first finals. Please feel at ease about reaching out to SCO admissions or myself for any questions you may have or just to talk to someone who is super supportive about your optometric education.