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Another semester down!

Happy Friday, readers! I'm extra happy this Friday because another week of final exams is complete. Yay! My class just finished our last final of the semester and we're looking forward to a week of relaxation before starting back up in class and clinic a week from Monday. This semester we took Contact Lenses II, Strabismus & Amblyopia, Low Vision, Glaucoma, and a clinical "recap" type class called Integrative Clinical Analysis. Also, as of last week we are officially done with labs forever (which means we get to focus more on clinic!)

The week off is exciting for me and the rest of the student ambassadors because SCO is hosting our New Student Orientation for the class of 2019 at the end of next week. It's always fun to help the members of the incoming class get adjusted to life as an optometry student and to make them feel at home at SCO. They always have a ton of questions about what they should expect - which I never mind answering because I had the exact same questions when I was in their shoes. It's hard to believe my class was getting ready to start orientation two years ago! While time has flown by, we've also learned so much in the past two years that it's hard to believe we were just getting started at this time in 2013.

In addition to busy and exciting days working with patients in the clinic (which I talked about in my last post), this summer semester has been full of big events for me. From traveling to Seattle for Optometry's Meeting to moving to a lake house in Olive Branch to getting 4th year externship site assignments to going on a cruise to Mexico for my sister's wedding and planning my own wedding, I've been all over the place and I feel like each weekend has been crazier than the last. It has all made the semester absolutely FLY by!

Choosing our preferences and getting our assignments for our 4th year externship sites was a long, exciting, and slightly stressful process. After doing tons of research and considering sites all over the country, Ben and I decided to both stay in the Memphis area all three semesters next year. There are a lot of awesome sites around here - plus we absolutely love our new house! Each 4th year student has to do one semester at The Eye Center here at SCO, one semester at an institutional-based site, and one semester at a private practice. I ended up getting assigned to SCO in the summer, Dr. Leroy Norton's private practice in Whitehaven in the fall, and the Naval Base in Millington in the spring. It's so hard to believe I'll be starting my first rotation in less than nine months. I'm excited but still have so much to learn before then! I'm sure I will have tons to talk about in my blog posts next year as I experience different types of practice settings and get a feel of what's right for me.

Now that this busy week of exams is finished, I have some unpacking to finish and some things to take care of around the new house so this post is short and sweet today. I'll post again in a couple weeks to talk about orientation (and maybe share some pictures of the new place!). Thanks for reading and have a wonderful weekend!

at 8/21/15 | 0 comments

"Take a Risk, Take a Chance, Make a Change, and Breakaway."

15 hours and 1,030 miles later, I finally arrived at my destination – Memphis, TN. I have only been here a little over a week and I couldn’t be happier with the choice I made. Memphis is quite different from my hometown – Miami, FL; however, one thing remains the same – boiling temperatures that beg for some ice cream or a dip in the pool. I must admit... I am secretly hoping for colder temperatures to hit so I can finally experience a real winter – as Elsa would say, “The cold never bothered me anyway” (but who am I kidding, I’ll regret saying this in a couple of months).

I guess now is as good a time as ever to introduce myself. My name is Betsy Del Valle and I will be a first year optometry student this upcoming Fall (Class of 2019!!). I grew up in Miami, FL although I was actually born in Cuba. I have many fond memories of growing up in Miami, and it will always hold a special place in my heart; however, I have always been intrigued with the unknown and upon graduating from high school I chose to relocate to Gainesville, FL to attend the University of Florida where I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition (Go Gators!!!!).

University of Florida Class of 2012!

After completing my degree at UF, I decided to move back to Miami and eventually pursued a Master’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition at Florida International University. You may be wondering why I decided to pursue a master’s degree as opposed to going straight into optometry school; the truth is, I didn’t know much about the field of optometry until after my undergraduate studies. However, what I did know was that I wanted to further my education and eventually work in healthcare. Once I began shadowing a variety of optometrists, I realized that optometry was a perfect match and my love for the profession was awakened.

An interesting fact about me is that I have a slight obsession with animals (especially penguins and giraffes) as well as anything optometry related as you will come to learn.

Zoo Miami - Feeding my favorite vegetarian.

Georgia Aquarium - With my one and only.

Eye at the Joule - Dallas, TX

Fast-forward to August 2015 and here I am, in Memphis, TN ready to begin the next chapter of my life.

With each day that goes by, one by one the class of 2019 is slowly but surely invading the City of Blues and the countdown has officially begun – 16 days till Orientation! Until then, I will continue to explore this historic city and all of its hidden gems. Next time I write, I will hopefully have made many friends and have finally begun this journey that will take me one step closer to attaining my ultimate goal of becoming a Doctor of Optometry!


Second Year!

Hi guys!

I'm writing to you now as an official second year! I'm about to start my third week of summer session, and it has been a whirlwind so far! It's nice to be back in Memphis too, but this summer heat is ridiculous. I've always thought Pennsylvania had humid summers but that is nothing compared to Tennessee. I've never been so thankful for air conditioning in my life!

So far the biggest change from first to second year has been our schedule. Last year we had classes in the morning and labs in the afternoon, but it is switched now. I have lab 3 days a week, and classes every day from 1:00-4:30. I didn't think I'd like the change, but it's good to have some time to study in the morning before classes start. I wouldn't have thought that we'd have so much work after only two weeks, but given the fact that the summer is only 6 weeks they really try to give as much information as possible. In terms of the classes themselves, we have pathology and pharmacology every day, evidence-based medicine 4 days a week, and inter-professional education once a week. It's great to finally start learning some more applied medicine, and I'm so excited to continue with this.

In terms of labs, we have theory and methods lab twice a week and a foundations of service learning seminar once a week. Theory has gotten more advanced. Our class just started doing fundoscopy exams with the slit lamps. It's definitely not easy but it's such an amazing skill and I've been anxiously waiting to learn it. We're also continuing with our refractive skills and already had our first practical last week.

Overall, I'm really happy to be back and to be getting started on my second year. It wasn't easy to get back into the groove after having such a long time off, but there's no going back now! Hope you're all enjoying these summer months!
Posted by Erin Jaffe at 7/27/15 | 0 comments

Every New Beginning

Aha! My password still works!

I realize that I never got to say goodbye to you all from the vantage of this student life blog, especially now that the student life is over.

Life after my externship in Wichita has been one thing to the next, and I am still in awe at all that has transpired. Graduation was extremely gratifying. It was quite cathartic, celebrating for an entire week with my classmates, and I am so proud of all we have accomplished and will accomplish in our careers.

Two days after graduation, I headed off to Cartagena, Colombia, for my final SVOSH trip as a student. Even though those long clinic hours can be quite difficult sometimes, I still think after four years of SVOSH that there was no better way to spend my time at the end of the school year. We saw roughly 1100 patients in Cartagena.

Rolling right along, my brother also graduated the week after that, and he earned his Master’s in International Business/Asian Studies from Johns Hopkins University. So proud of him, and of course my parents were super happy to have two graduates in the same month.

Then, in the following week, I had sinus surgery to fix a lifelong disorder. Ha, the recovery was not pleasant (I liken the feeling to drowning, but in air), but there was no better time for it. I will never take for granted the ability to simply take a deep breath.

A few weeks later (and still recovering), I ventured to Canada for a heart-filling reunion with my mom’s side of the family, and we celebrated her 86th birthday with a lunch cruise on Lake Ontario. I remarked at how quickly my little cousins are growing, and we very much enjoyed interviewing my grandmother about life in the southern Philippines around World War II.

Just this past weekend, one of my best optometry school friends, Michael, married the love of his life, Connie, providing a very warm, very fun (but quick) reunion for our SCO friends.

While all these life events have happened on a grand scale, daily life has operated on a much smaller scale. I will be joining a private practice south of Nashville this fall, and a lot of the summer has been devoted to preparation for the beginning of my career in optometry. (Exciting!) I’ve gotten my Tennessee license, started the process of getting credentialed on insurances, and attended my first Continuing Education lectures as an optometrist (thanks, SCO and SCO residents!). Also, I have enjoyed short visits to Memphis from my parents, exploring yet more of this awesome city with my now-fourth-year girlfriend, Emy, and the satisfying simplicity of being. Life is good.

And thus in the midst of this extraordinary transition in my life I leave you. Thank you for reading my musings on optometry school these past few years, and I would especially like to thank Sunnie Ewing, Jim Hollifield, and SCO for this opportunity to connect with you all. For those of you currently in optometry school, good luck, and before you know it I’ll be calling you doctor as well. To those of you thinking about optometry as a career, know that optometry is a wonderful, fulfilling profession, and that I consider my years at Southern College of Optometry to be among the best in my life.

And yet, at the dawn of my career, I still believe that the best is yet to come.

Best wishes,
Virgilio Gozum, O.D.

Posted by Amy Dunbar at 7/8/15 | 0 comments

The Cat Days of Summer

I must be getting older, because every time I turn around I'm shocked by how quickly the time has gone. When I first started school in September, it seemed like I would never make it until the end of first year, and now my break is almost over! Seriously, where does the time go?

I've spent my break working (much more than I thought I would be) full-time at my local eye clinic. While it was pretty exhausting to go directly from finals to a 14 hour drive home to working first thing on a Monday morning, I'm so thankful that I had something to do this summer. I think that I would have gotten bored after 10 weeks of doing nothing, and the best thing was that I was able to be in a clinic for 40 hours a week. Not only was I able to practice some of the skills that we were taught this past year, but I was also able to work on some skills that we'll be learning this summer and throughout the rest of second year. I can't stress enough how much being in a clinic setting has helped me and motivated me. I love being able to work so closely with optometrists and to see what they do on a day to day basis. This focus is really what helped me during some stressful moments during my first year. I'm so thankful to have a clear idea of my future career and I love seeing how happy the optometrists are with their careers. I'm hoping to work in a medically-oriented group practice when I graduate, and this clinic gives great insight into this type of setting.

Otherwise this summer, I've done a lot of visiting with family. It's pretty difficult to be so far away during the year and I love having the chance to catch up with everyone. My family and friends are incredibly supportive of my goals and it makes it much easier to be away from everyone when this is the case. My sister is getting married this fall and I was so lucky to have some time at home to be able to plan and be a part of her bridal shower. I love my small town and it's been great to get caught up with all of the locals and the local activity. Most importantly, I've been reunited with the two cats I had to leave at my parents' house when I moved, and I couldn't be happier to spend time with them.

I will be heading back to Memphis next Monday, a few days before classes start. My boyfriend is scheduled to graduate ranger school that weekend (woo hoo!) so I will be making a quick side trip to Georgia and then heading back to Memphis for summer session! It feels great to be a second year and to be getting ready to delve further into optometry-related course.

I'm so thankful to have had this nice long break. Not having to study after work has definitely given me a much needed break and I feel ready to take on all of the challenges that second year has to offer! I will be hitting the books very soon, but until then I'm going to start another beach read and crack open a beer! Hope you're all enjoying your summer, and I'll see you soon, Memphis.
Posted by Erin Jaffe at 6/30/15 | 0 comments