This summer was the start of my third year in the OD program and time just flew by! Being in the OD/MS program, I spent almost the whole summer in Boston, working on my research for the first half and then completing the summer academic semester during the second half. Although Boston is beautiful in the summer, it is also extremely hot. Seriously - for any newcomers to the college, buy yourself an air conditioner. It’s a small price to pay for getting a comfortable night’s sleep.
I started off my summer in Boston by helping perform vision screenings for the athletes at the Massachusetts Special Olympics. With the end of my OD program fast approaching, I’ve begun thinking about potentially completing a residency in the future. This event seemed like an excellent way to both volunteer in the community and gain experience working with an underserved population in Boston. I was blown away by the positive attitudes of all the athletes in the Special Olympics and feel like I learned a great deal through these vision screenings. The event also made me aware of some of the hurdles that people with intellectual disabilities have to jump through in order to receive basic healthcare. I hope I’ll be able to participate in these vision screenings next year as well.
My academic semester this summer as an OD3 was very different from what I had experienced as an OD2. Where my OD2 semesters were class intensive with a half day of clinic scheduled once a week, my summer as an OD3 involved very few classes but four days of clinic a week. Overall, I enjoyed having this clinically oriented semester. Having so many hours in clinic gave me the chance to refine my skills and increase the speed of my exam. More importantly, it gave me a taste of what clinic will be like when I am in fourth year and beyond. I had the opportunity to make my own clinic decisions, develop differentials and have my own patient follow-ups. The few classes I had this summer complimented my clinic schedule well and I found I was able to apply what I was learning in these classes to my clinical cases.
The summer of my OD3 was very busy but I still consider it the “calm before the storm” of what is to come later this year. Part 1 of Board Examinations is quickly approaching and my classmates and I are already beginning to receive study materials and information about in-class study sessions. Part 1 is a written examination that tests our knowledge on all of the subject material we have been learning about for the past 3 years.
Although the thought of studying for and passing board exams is worrisome and stressful, a wise upper year student recently helped quell some of my fears. They explained that we have taken and passed almost all of the material that will be on boards through our three years at NECO and the school offers guidance in terms of study strategies and course crams to refresh ourselves on the material. Most students do very well on the exam, and even if you don’t quite pass the first time, don’t think of it as the end of the world. By the time we reach our fourth year, 100% of the Class of 2018 will have passed Part 1 of the Board Examinations.
As the summer ends, the fall semester of my OD3 is under way. In only a few short months I’ll be receiving information about where my fourth year rotations will be. I can’t wait.
Maria is a Canadian student in her final year of the four year OD/MS dual degree program. For her MS project, she is working with Dr. Vera-Diaz and Dr. Panorgias examining color vision and early age-related macular degeneration.