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Clinic to Win It

cliff walk in Newport, Rhode Island

Four weeks of break, seven weeks of classes, and two weeks of summer later, the fall semester has officially begun for the second year students! Do you know what this means? No, not the end of summer – the start of clinic! Seeing patients, shadowing doctors, learning new equipment; this is where we start to see it all in a real practice setting as doctors-in-training.

Aside from the relief we all feel from escaping this aggravating heat dome, we started the fall semester with orientation at our respective clinics. I know, I know, just hearing he word “clinic” generates this pot of mixed feelings ranging from butterflies to excitement to motivation. It’s a mess at first for me, but then I think to myself, “This is what I came here for. This is what I want to do.”

It’s not as if students dive right into clinic without preparation. NECO readies students transitioning from first to second year during their summer semester with a lab called Clinical Simulation. During first year, we often practice our skills on our classmates without realizing how different procedures would be on an actual patient. In Clinical Simulation, we have the opportunity to practice on people unfamiliar with our work. Even though we have practiced our skills plenty, patient interaction also plays a major role in the examination room. Preceptors provide feedback on our case history and how to have a steady exam flow. This scenario allows us to develop our communication skills with our future patients.

If you’re a prospective student reading this, you might feel a little anxious feeling learning about NECO’s summer semester, but I want to shed some light on the benefits of this continual education:

We still get a break. This is probably the biggest concern for students, but the current curriculum grants us a total of six weeks split between the semesters. In that time span, my classmates have visited their families, traveled to other countries, explored New England, and shadowed at optometry practices. Another option you have is to stay in Boston. There are always events taking place in the city and the school is open if you wish to practice.

     View of Charles River with surrounding buildings at sunset

Sunset view from Skywalk Observatory in Prudential Tower. Can you spot NECO?

You stay on top of your skills. Even after our two-week winter break, students were a little rusty with their skills. At the beginning of summer, we needed to practice quite a bit to get back into the groove. Now imagine you have three months off. Some people intern, some people work at optometry practices, but what about those who travel or work in other places? You can forget quite a bit in three months, and that is no way to start clinic in your second year with a real patient in your chair.

Clinical Simulation. I have already discussed this before, but I wanted to list it again as an advantage. The lab course is designed to simulate what we will experience in our second year. Think of it as a transitioning period so you don’t go in blind. This way, we know what to expect, we know how to carry ourselves in a more professional manner, and we know how to present case histories to the doctors in clinic.

One week into my fall semester and my first day of clinic is tomorrow. I have heard great things from other students so far, so I am ready to step into that exam room to see it all for myself!

Image on top of page:  Cliffwalk in Newport, Rhode Island 

Tiffany is a third year student at New England College of Optometry. Born and raised in Maryland, she graduated from the University of Maryland in both Biological Sciences and Psychology. Her initial interest in optometry stems from shadowing and working in practices that provide vision therapy.