Life as an optometry student can be very challenging. As well as having to digest a lot of theoretical knowledge, we have to learn and gain competence in many clinical techniques. Have you ever wondered what a typical day is like in the life of a second year student?
Well it goes a little something like this…
My alarm goes off promptly at 7:30 am. Groggily, I paw at my phone with one eye open until I successfully press the snooze button and obtain brief but blissful relief from that incessant beeping. In my mostly asleep state I begin to try and reason with myself. “Do I really need to go to class? It’s just one morning…Think of how much more alert I will be if I sleep just an extra hour!”
In the back of my mind I know that I always learn more in class than I do watching the recorded lecture. I procrastinate for a while. Should I stay or should I go? Before I know it, the clock reads 8:25am and class is about to start. I leap out of bed, quickly get ready, and head off to a full morning of classes. Better to be a little late than to skip class entirely. Plus, the school sells coffee and breakfast sandwiches.
I sit downstairs for my morning lectures in the electric classroom, a godsend for someone like me who is not a morning person. Students can choose to attend class in the lecture hall upstairs or use the electronic classroom downstairs, where the lectures are projected onto the TV screens in real time. It’s great for me because I can go to the lecture without disturbing the lecturer, grab some breakfast from the café, and relax in the comfy lounge chairs while gaining some early morning optometric knowledge.
Class comes to an end a little before noon and I grab a quick bite to eat (and another coffee) from the school’s café in preparation for the second half of my day: clinic. Although I used to take the bus to clinic, I now take an Uber to clinic. It is relatively inexpensive and I can get to clinic in only ten minutes, much quicker than before!
I arrive at clinic around 12:20 pm, even though I don’t technically start my shift until 1 pm. I always prefer to get to clinic early so that I will have time to look over patients’ charts and get an idea of their past ocular history. It helps give me an idea of what to look for during my examination and to ask my preceptors any questions that I may have before the patient even walks in the door.
The next four hours are a whirlwind. Clinic days are without a doubt the most challenging and rewarding part of my week. I often feel like an “optometry detective.” I start with a comprehensive case history and try to establish the reason the patient has presented to me for an eye exam. I then build the rest of my exam around trying to determine the cause of their visual and ocular complaints, and finish with a diagnosis and treatment suggestions. Clinic may be stressful at times, but I always end each clinic day feeling happy that I helped improve somebody’s quality of life by improving their vision and eye health.
In no time at all my clinical day is over. I take an Uber back to my apartment and take a much needed Netflix break. Even though I accomplished a great deal today, there is never any rest for a second year student! There are always lectures I could be reviewing, techniques I could be practicing and labs I could be preparing for.
Optometry school is not easy. But if you work hard and get out of bed early, it will be a rewarding and (literally) eye-opening experience.
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.