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For the first two years of school, your experiences will be primarily classroom or lab-based. As a second-year you will observe different forms of patient care in clinic, but third year is when you actually start seeing your own patients.
Throughout the week you will have classroom lecture every morning from roughly 8 AM to 10 AM. After that, you will either have lab or clinic. Two days out of the week you will have labs after lecture, similar to those that you will experience your first and second years of school. The other three days, you will have various clinic assignments from 10:30 AM to 6:30 PM.
Your three clinic days will usually consist of one day in optical, one day in Adult Primary Care, and one day in a rotation. The rotation day varies between being in Technology, Vision Therapy, Nursing Home, and Teen Clinic.
On your optical day, you get to help patients pick out glasses, do repairs and adjustments on frames, and even see the process of making lenses in our optical lab. This process exposes you to patient interaction, insurance coverage, and many other things that go along with working in an optical setting.
A typical day in APC will involve you seeing around 3 or 4 patients for various exams including yearly routine exams, glaucoma follow-ups, prescription checks, etc. This is the part of clinic where you really have to put everything you’ve learned to the test, but you will have a staff doctor to help you along the way and answer any questions you might have. You will have one staff doctor in the morning, and a different staff doctor in the afternoon, so you will get exposure to multiple methods of patient care. Throughout the day you will be in charge of completing all your own charting and performing all the necessary parts of an exam for your specific patient. The staff doctors are really good at letting you be the doctor and allowing you to make your own decisions and come to your own conclusions, but also will advise you about anything you may need help on. You’ll never have to worry about a patient not being taken care of because your staff doctor will check over everything and make sure nothing has been missed throughout the exam.
This semester I was in Technology and Vision Therapy for my rotation day. For the first half of the semester I was in Technology, which was a great experience to have in the beginning of my clinical time here at SCO because it allowed me to understand all the testing we can order for our patients, including Visual Fields, OCTs, pachymetry, fundus photos, and so much more. This rotation really helped me know what technology was best to order for different conditions, and how to best interpret the results. For the second half of the semester, I was in Vision Therapy. This is an amazing rotation that lets you work with patients in an atypical exam environment. Vision Therapy is like physical therapy for your eyes, so we work with patients doing different activities that train the eyes to function properly. These activities sometimes seem more like games than work because you’ll be in an open room throwing balls, balancing on boards, and tracing pictures, just to name a few examples.
As you see more and more patients throughout the year, you will become more confident and more efficient in patient care. It’s amazing to think about how nervous I was on the first day—I was about to do an exam on a real-life patient. Now, with the guidance of my wonderful staff doctors, I feel prepared, and even excited, for patient care. This school does an amazing job of preparing you to be a competent, well-rounded doctor once you get to clinic, so don’t be afraid that you won’t be ready when the time comes.