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The End of Second Year

Hey everyone!

It’s hard to believe I’m coming to the end of my second year! It seems like we were just sitting through our first-year orientation, and now we’re already getting ready for our clinic orientation in a few weeks.

For me, this semester has been mostly about honing my clinical skills and preparing to enter clinic. We’ve finally learned the last skills that we need to complete a comprehensive exam, which is pretty exciting. Last month, my classmates and I all had to pass a pre-clinic checkout, in which we had to simulate an entire exam in 50 minutes. Now that we’ve passed those, we are officially cleared to start seeing patients in clinic!

While our course load this semester has been as challenging as ever, I feel like we’re starting to see how things come together and are related to one another. It’s been neat to learn about a particular disease in Posterior Segment class, then learn about how to treat it in Ocular Pharmacology. I feel like all of our professors have done a good job correlating and integrating information from our other classes and I’m hoping that will help us in clinic.

When the semester is over in two weeks, I will head home to Pennsylvania for some much needed family time for about ten days, during which I’m hoping to get a few days of shadowing/working in at my local eye clinic. Then I’ll return in mid-May to officially start my 3rd year! I am definitely excited to be done with second year, and to be officially halfway done with optometry school, but I’m also nervous to start applying all of this classroom information to real patients and real exams in clinic.

Stay tuned to hear about my clinic adventures in a few weeks, and I promise to talk about some summertime Memphis activities! It will be my first summer here, so I’m excited to see what the city has in store for me!
at 4/18/16 | 0 comments

Direct Ophthalmoscopy

Direct Ophthalmoscopy is a skill that seemed nearly impossible a couple of weeks ago. Do I see a reflex? Do I need more magnification or less? How close should I get to this patient?  Can I hold my breath that long? Do you even have an optic nerve? Can I go back to retinoscopy? Give me my schematic eye back!!!! These are only a few of the many thoughts running through my mind as I continuously “play” doctor alongside my classmates.

After getting over my mental rant and numerous failed attempts, I was finally able to get my very first view of the optic nerve. It was then that I remembered the analogy a fellow SCO graduate once gave me: think of the cup to disk ratio as a bowl of spaghetti! An idea that once seemed so obscure finally began to take on a whole new meaning. Who would’ve thought that my love for spaghetti would come in handy at optometry school? Not me!

So here is how it goes: Picture a bowl (disk) with a fixed number of spaghetti strands (nerves; lets say 10) arranged diagonally so that the strands all have a common point where they meet, prior to diverting outwards in various directions till they graze the edges of the bowl and ultimately fall outwards. The key point to remember is that the number of spaghetti strands will always remain fixed. However, the bowl of spaghetti may either increase or decrease, meaning the optic disk will be larger or smaller, respectively. You then need to add the spaghetti sauce (cup), which will go in the middle of the bowl. The bigger the bowl, the larger the amount of sauce that can be added, and therefore, the larger the cup will be. Similarly, the smaller the bowl, the smaller the amount of sauce that can be added and therefore, the smaller the cup will be.  Once you can picture this, you can then determine the cup-to-disk ratio. What percentage of the cup does the disk occupy? Or, what percentage of the bowl does the sauce occupy? Good news: you can now predict a C/D ratio!! Bad news: the spaghetti analogy will only get you so far. It will not help with determining the presence of a spontaneous venous pulsation or foveal light reflex, nor will it aid in assessing the vasculature or macula of the eye. You’re on your own there!!

However, I will give you one last piece of advice, when looking at your patient's right eye, use your RIGHT eye, and when looking at their left eye, use your LEFT eye – unless of course, you’re trying to sneak in a peck on the lips! (Seriously, don’t be THAT person in the middle of a practical!)

That’s all for now... until next time! Can’t wait to share some post first year wisdom with you all in just a couple weeks!

at 4/13/16 | 0 comments

A year of many “Firsts”

As our first semester in optometry school came to a close, so did 2015. As one year ends, another begins; and with that, our second semester in optometry school is now in full swing.

So far 2016 has been a year of many firsts; with the month of January, came my first State Day, “Snowmaggedon”, and Eye Ball (no pun intended).

State Day is sponsored by SCO and the AOSA. It allows students to meet with a variety of state representatives and learn more about the individual laws and regulations that legislate the scope of optometric practice individual to each state. It provides students with insight as to what practicing optometry would be like in various states, while simultaneously allowing us to build connections with state representatives and AOA members. As an added bonus to State Day, we had an inspiring presentation by Hunter Chapman ’16 (2015-2016 AOSA President) where I was able to learn more about the AOSA and how to get involved. I should also note that for the second year in a row, an SCO student has been appointed as AOSA President. Congrats are in order for Erick Henderson ’17. #PerksofbeinganSCOstudent

On another note, my first “Snowmaggedon” was quite a tease. I pictured myself singing: “Do you want to build a snowman?” as I pranced around in a blizzard, but all I got was a day off school and an inch of snow. But beggars can’t be choosers, a snowflake is a snowflake, and this Florida girl finally got to experience a “Snow Day” as opposed to a day away from school due to Hurricane Andrew or “El Nino”. Following the flurries, all SCO students were able to mix and mingle with future colleagues at the annual Eye Ball, which took place at the historic Cadre Building and was hosted by SGA. The timing of the ball couldn’t have been more perfect; it allowed us all to engage in some fun before getting ready to buckle down and begin studying for our first set of midterms (taking place next week).

Colleen Fischman '19, Maria Sicco '19 and Betsy Del Valle '19

#EyeBall 2016


Lastly, as an added bonus the month of January granted me with my very first view of the optic nerve via direct ophthalmoscopy. But I should be getting back to studying, so you’ll have to stay tuned till next time!  

at 2/5/16 | 0 comments

There’s a (Christmas) Light at the End of the Tunnel!

Hi everyone! I can’t believe we’re coming down to our final weeks of the semester. I am just about finished with labs for the fall, and just have a couple days left of classes. We had a few practicals last week, and I just have one more school screening to do tomorrow. Then I can really focus on finals and getting ready to head home for Christmas!

It was so nice to be home for Thanksgiving. I haven’t been back to Pennsylvania since July, so it was wonderful to be back and to have a chance to see everyone. I’m already looking forward to going back in a few weeks! I think it was a much needed break for all of us.

Overall, this was an exciting semester. We learned so much, especially in terms of clinical skills. It was definitely overwhelming, and at times it felt like we had a practical every week, but I’m so happy to finally be learning some of the examination tools that we’ll be using over and over every day. I can't believe that in just a few short months we'll be starting in clinic!

Another exciting development happened this semester with externship sites. Since there is already an optometry school in Pennsylvania and it is relatively far, there were not any extern sites set up in the state for SCO students. I was pretty bummed about this, but I was able to work with the externship office to set up my own. I contacted a doctor’s office close to my house and was amazed by how willing they were to allow me to spend some time there during my fourth year. Even though I’m only in my second year, we have to have our externship sites finalized by the summer, so I wanted to have everything in place well before then. I have always been happy with my decision to attend school in Tennessee, and with knowing the school was willing to work with me as start to think about this next step in my training.

For now, I’m taking advantage of Christmas music, Christmas lights, and Christmas cookies to help make finals prep a little more bearable. :) I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season!
at 12/7/15 | 1 comments

The Final Stretch

Hello readers! A lot has happened since I last wrote. The second round of midterms came and went, and finals are right around the corner – but first, we got a much-needed break! Many of my classmates flew back home to spend Thanksgiving with their families; however, I opted to stay in Memphis to get some studying done as well as some practice in lab.

A couple of weeks ago I took part in “Dining in the Dark” with the Lions Club at SCO. Dr. Karen Squier was the guest lecturer at the meeting and instructed us on how to properly assist visually impaired individuals on everyday tasks while remaining respectful of their space and encouraging independence. We each had a “buddy” who guided us as we not only served our food, but also as we ate while being completely blindfolded. As I stood blindfolded and unaware of my surroundings, I felt completely vulnerable and dependent on my “buddy”. I realized that vision truly is a precious gift that can sometimes be taken for granted – even by us future optometrists. It’s very hard to know what life would be like in the dark, when all we ever experience is life with the lights on.

Furthermore, I learned that communicating and assisting someone who is visually impaired is harder than I thought! I found myself at a loss for words as I tried to guide my “buddy” throughout the room as she served herself spaghetti and meatballs and then as she attempted to gracefully eat while wearing her shinny white coat. We somehow got through it, but I quickly realized how hard it was to describe everyday items such as tongs to grab some salad or a brownie (my favorite), or even a fork and a knife. I must say the hardest part of this exercise was describing depth perception and spatial arrangements; who knew telling left from right or up from down could be so complicated! I’ll definitely be needing more practice!!

On another note and since I’m on the topic of vision, I thought I’d share some future plans of mine. Next summer I will be attending a SVOSH mission trip somewhere in Central or South America and I couldn’t be more excited! Last year SVOSH preformed 7,463 eye exams and distributed 7,527 pairs of prescription eyeglasses in just one week!! I look forward to being a part of this great cause and providing free eye care services to those who are less fortunate and don’t have these services readily available to them.

Lastly, if you’ve been following my blogs you may recall a statement I initially made with regards to colder temperatures…

“The cold never bothered me anyway”

I was wrong!! I am definitely not Elsa, and the cold does bother me, actually.
at 12/3/15 | 0 comments