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My final days on campus!

Hello, readers! My time here on campus at SCO is coming to a close. One week from tomorrow will be my last day as a student intern at The Eye Center and a week later I'll be starting my first externship rotation at my private practice site. This summer has been busy and I've learned a ton from my patient encounters. The main thing that sets the 4th year internship here apart from external clinics and private practices is the fact that we are assigned to a different service each day of the week. Rather than seeing a mix of every type of patient encounter each day, we have a whole day each week devoted to something specific. While this might not be how clinics will be structured in practice, it's been a good way to really refine our skills in certain areas and to work under doctors with a lot of experience in that specific sub-specialty. I really enjoyed having my in-house internship in the summer so that I have these specific skill sets a little more refined before starting my externships in the fall and spring semesters. For example, today I'm assigned to the Cornea & Contact Lens service at The Eye Center, meaning that all of my patients today are contact lens exams, fittings, and follow-ups. Tomorrow I'm assigned to Advanced Care Ocular Disease which will bring acute eye problems and various disease treatment and management. These are both things that I will likely see on a regular basis beginning in a few weeks when I start my first externship at Dr. Norton's private practice in south Memphis.

I'll miss working under so many different attending doctors when I'm off on my externships because its been a great way to develop my own skills from the influence of many different doctors, but I'm excited to get out there are to start using my skills in different settings. I'll be at a private practice through December and at my institutional site from January through May. I'll be sure to post updates throughout the rest of my 4th year comparing my externships to my time as a student intern at SCO. Also, I'll keep y'all updated on the post-graduation job search as well! Thanks for reading!

at 8/11/16 | 0 comments

Real Patients and Real Patience

Happy August, everyone! Only two more weeks left in this semester, and I will already be a third of the way done with year 3! Woo!

Obviously, the biggest change from last year to this year has been the start of clinic. I am in clinic on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, but the day that I see patients in Adult Primary Care clinic is Thursday. I know I keep saying how big of a change it is, but it seriously is a huge change! We’ve been practicing our clinical skills in lab for two years, beginning with retinoscopy the first week of 1st year. Between preparing for practicals and then pre-clinic checkouts, I’ve definitely put a lot of hours into practicing these skills. I think I was the most prepared that I could have been to start using them with patients, but it’s still so different to go into a patient encounter with your first real patient! I was more than a little nervous going into my first exam, but, like I said, we were very well prepared for this experience, and at some point I knew I’d have to just jump right in. My first patient was actually very straightforward, and I couldn’t have asked for a better first day!

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from this summer is to be patient with myself and with my clinical knowledge. It seems almost impossible to take all of the things we’ve learned from the classroom and in lab, and to throw them all together in clinic, but every week it gets more and more manageable. I love the feeling that I have no idea of what I could see during an exam, (though it also terrifies me at the same time) and this gives me something to look forward to every week.

Comparing clinical cases with other classmates, I know that there are so many possible patient encounters to experience in Memphis and at The Eye Center. Hearing my classmates’ stories and thinking about my own experiences, I really feel like being in clinic solidifies everything I love about optometry. It has definitely been a challenge, but certainly a welcome one after putting in two years of hard work to get to this point!

So, that’s all for now. I’m gearing up for finals next week, and am also in the process of choosing externship site locations for next year, so stay tuned for more updates on that! Enjoy the last few weeks of summer, y’all :)

at 8/10/16 | 0 comments

Third Year Summer!

Liz Frontino, Class of 2018, Brookville, PA

Hi again, everyone!

It’s crazy to think that I’m already halfway through first semester of third year!

This summer has been already been extremely busy so far, and unbelievably different from third year. We are still doing a mixture of classes and labs, with the added element of clinic! I am really enjoying having so many patient encounters, and feeling like I’m finally doing what I came here to do. I will share more on my clinical experience in a few months—so stay tuned for that!

In addition to being in various clinical departments 3 days a week, my classmates and I have had various after-hours opportunities for patient care. The first two were a part of our contact lens course, and involved two nights of contact lens fitting workshops. They were both through a program called STAPLE- the Soft Toric and Presbyopic Lens Education Program- and they gave us the chance to fit lenses on patients other than our classmates. The first night was the toric workshop (for patients with astigmatism) and the second was for patients over 40 who wanted to be fit with multifocal lenses for both distance and near vision. Both nights were really wonderful experiences. I wore contact lenses for over ten years so I have no problem putting them on myself, but it is always daunting to insert and remove a lens on someone else’s eye. Also, as students we are often very cooperative patients so it was much more realistic to be able to practice on people from the community. I think we are so fortunate at SCO to have some amazing contact lens didactic education (Dr. Jackson is the best!), but the hands-on experience is really invaluable for future practice. Contact lenses are such a huge part of the optometric world, and I really want to feel confident in this aspect of clinical care. It was great to feel like I was able to get a jumpstart on this through these workshops.

Another extra activity that I recently completely through SCO was a Saturday Service Experience. As third years, we have a service requirement to complete, and this was one of the components of that. To be honest, I was not all that excited to spend my Saturday morning at school doing an eye exam (sorry, Dr. McGriff!), but this experience was incredibly rewarding. We gave exams to patients from various drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs throughout Memphis, and were encouraged to spend a lot of time getting to know our patients more than we would get to during a normal exam; we even had lunch with them afterwards. It was a great feeling to be able to provide eye care, even if it was just a glasses prescription, to people who needed it, and I genuinely enjoyed talking to and learning about my patient. These are the kinds of patient encounters that will not only enhance my optometric career and practice, but also impact who I am as a person. Turns out, it wasn’t such a bad way to spend a Saturday morning after all!

Whew, who knew I could be so long-winded on a Sunday night? Other than clinic and classes, I’m busy finding ways to stay cool in HOT Memphis July. I’m looking forward to continuing this semester and seeing what else third year has in store for me. Until next time!

at 7/10/16 | 0 comments

Sliding into Second Year

Jed Harrison, Class of 2019, Brigham City, UT

I've only ever met three other guys in my life with the name Jed, all of which are about as cowboy as you can get. As much as I have dreamed spending my days riding horses through the Utah mountains, that's not me. I grew up in Brigham City, a small town in northern Utah with a population of about 18,000 people. My grandpa (who actually was a cowboy) settled in Brigham City shortly after obtaining his OD degree from Southern College of Optometry. My dad, also an SCO alumni, continued running the family practice and has been there for more than 30 years.

It might seem that optometry should have been an easy decision for me. In fact, not only were my dad and grandpa optometrists, but my great grandpa was one as well. With such a tradition in my family of providing eye care for over 100 years, it's surprising to many people that it was not until I was a sophomore in undergrad that I had decided on optometry.

I attended Brigham Young University in Provo, UT from 2011 to 2015. I loved my experience there and it still feels like a bit of home to me. I majored in Neuroscience as a result of two inspirational high school teachers that taught Biology and Psychology. Not only was neuroscience a topic I was fascinated by, but I also felt that it would help me get into a health-care field which was my ultimate goal. BYU is a private church school nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains. My spare time was filled with mountain biking, hiking, camping, fishing, skiing, mountain climbing, snow-shoeing and anything else I could get my hands on. I met my wife, Andrea, at BYU and we were married in July 2012. I had barely known her a year, but I knew early on after meeting her that she was someone I could spend the rest of my life with. During school, Andrea ran on the track and cross country teams and I kept the funds coming by working for the Intramural Program.

Jed and Andrea at BYU

As I mentioned, around this time I didn't know for sure what I was going to do after undergrad. I'd had some very significant moments dealing with optometry in my life but I still wanted to stay open to other professions as well. As I continued my education, I found myself more and more attracted to optometry. I loved the optics section in my Physics courses and I was fascinated by how intricate and detailed the ocular innervation was in my neuroanatomy class. More and more I found that optometry fit very well with my interests and strengths. Optometry offered me a chance to work with individuals to problem solve and help come up with the best treatment plan (which was why I was interested in health care in the first place). Not only that, but optometry was consistently ranked among the most satisfactory professions when it came to quality of life. Being freshly married, this was also a very important part of my decision.

After working hard to take the right classes, shadowing optometrists , passing the OAT, and other requirements, I was accepted to optometry school. I started my first year at Southern College of Optometry in 2015 and am now entering my second year. SCO had always been my top choice for many reasons, particularly for the superior clinical experience that I would obtain. This first year has had many challenges but it has been well worth it. With both my wife and I being westerners (she is from Washington) it has been a major cultural shift but we love our new home! We are continuing to find more things to do each month amid our busy schedules, and we're glad we are making Memphis home.

Andrea and I after the White Coat Ceremony last Fall. See how supportive she is wearing her glasses shirt? :)
Andrea and I after the White Coat Ceremony last Fall. See how supportive she is wearing her glasses shirt? :)

I'm looking forward to sharing with you my experiences here at SCO and hope that it might answer questions, make you think, or at least give you a good chuckle. Thanks for reading!

at 7/10/16 | 0 comments


AJ McCleary, Class of 2018, Puyallup, WA

I can't believe that my SCO experience is already halfway done! It seems like we were just pulling our moving van up to our new apartment in Southaven. My wife and I were recently reflecting on our time in Memphis and decided that even though it feels like we just got here, we definitely have made 2 years worth of memories! We were looking over our pictures and couldn't believe how many fun things we've been blessed to enjoy, from Grizzlies games to picnics with classmates. Even though we go out and explore some part of Memphis almost every weekend, we are amazed that we continue to find new things every time! Just this past week, we went to the Pink Palace museum for the first time and FINALLY tried the pulled pork nachos from Central BBQ. If I have one regret about living here, it is waiting two years to try the nachos.

Second year was definitely a busy year. Because it is the last purely pre-clinical year, our staff doctors and professors really pushed us to learn as much as we could. Even though it was very busy, and stressful at times, it was a lot of fun! Instead of viewing the classes as just something I had to "get through" like I did sometimes in undergrad, the clinical relevance of the material created a sense of urgency. I truly wanted to learn everything that was presented in class, not just to do well on an exam, but to be ready for clinic! I wanted to hit the ground running with my patients. Although the classes definitely pushed us to get ready for clinic, we still had plenty of opportunities to practice what we learned. Our labs were focused on new procedures. We improved the efficiency of our exams. We improved the skills we had learned first year. For me, one of the most enjoyable parts of second year were the school screenings we did. It was fun, challenging, hilarious, and humbling to perform eye screenings on school-aged children as young as three. I always walked away more excited to be an optometrist!

Now, a few weeks into third year, I am more sure than ever that I picked a wonderful career! My first patient encounters in clinic have reinforced my desire to get to know, diagnose, and treat those with whom I get the privilege to work. Every day in clinic is both humbling and exciting! It has been as wonderful to discover strengths as it has been frustrating to identify weaknesses. The good news is that I still have two more years of patient encounters at SCO to work on those weaknesses and a lifetime of work to continuously learn and improve.

I am so grateful I chose to attend SCO. Although only beginning, my clinical experience so far has been very rewarding! The "ah-ha" moments that we were promised in class would come have indeed come! It is amazing how much easier it is to internalize concepts when you discover them with your BIO or pick them up with your 90. Because The Eye Center at SCO is so busy, we are seeing lots of patients! Because of the many patient encounters we have had and will continue to have, I feel very confident that, upon graduation, I will be well prepared to go anywhere in the country and do a great job as an optometrist.

I can't wait to see what I will see in clinic this week. Until next time!

at 7/10/16 | 0 comments