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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.