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Making It to the Halfway Point

Maria with two students in fancy attire

Well, we did it! In 3 very long weeks, we conquered 2 proficiencies and 6 exams, accompanied by seemingly endless stress and frustration. But we did it! We made it through to the end of the current academic year and we now can officially call ourselves third year optometry students.

From the very beginning of optometry school I was constantly told that second year was the most difficult year. It’s when clinic starts, courses begin to get harder, and expectations are much higher in terms of clinical techniques and patient care.

I sometimes can’t believe how much I’ve learned and how far the Class of 2018 has come. I can even proudly say that I can now do a full eye exam, a feat that felt daunting when I was a first year. It’s really starting to hit me that in only one year I’ll be starting my fourth year rotations. I’m even in the process of choosing the fourth year rotation sites, which means in a year’s time I will essentially have all the skills necessary to be a competent, independent student clinician. It’s unbelievable to think about!

This summer will be my first experience as a third year student and I’m both nervous and excited for it. I am in summer session 2, which means I have clinic and classes throughout July and August. Each week, I will have four days of clinic, which will be a very different experience from the one half-day a week of clinic I had during my second year. On top of this I will have classes during the days I’m not in clinic. I expect the summer to be overwhelming at first, but I know that by the time the fall semester arrives my optometry skills will be more refined and my confidence will be higher.

I will also be in Boston for the first half of the summer working on my Master’s program and testing research subjects. Boston is beautiful in the summer and it’s a relief to finally have a bit of down time to experience the famous attractions I’ve been trying to visit since I started school 2 years ago.  Planned items include going down to Cape Cod to get some much needed sunshine, checking out the Museum of Science and maybe even doing a day trip to Salem. I also plan to go to Shakespeare in the Park again this summer: a free production that happens at the end of July in the Boston Commons. Last year’s production of King Lear left me extremely impressed by the level of complexity the actors managed to portray with minimal props and set design.

This summer Optometry’s Meeting, a yearly optometry conference, will be hosted in Boston and I’m really looking forward to it. This will be my first time attending this conference and I sense that it is more geared towards students and the general optometry population than the American Academy of Optometry conference I went to in October, which was primarily research-based. It would be great to make it to every optometry conference at least once and Optometry’s Meeting seems like it will be a unique experience I won’t get anywhere else. The keynote speaker is Buzz Aldrin and I’m curious to hear an astronaut’s take on vision science.

Looking back on my time as an OD2, many memorable moments stand out. A most recent highlight of my second semester was attending the 86th Annual Eye Ball at the Marriott Long Wharf Hotel. The theme was Mardi Gras, which I enjoyed almost too much (free beads!). It’s always tons of fun to get dressed up with my classmates and eat a nice meal. We study so hard that the Eye Ball was a much-needed break from practicing for proficiencies or preparing for finals. I particularly liked the free photo booth at the event and the venue itself. The booth was right by the water, which was a great location for pre-event photos.  

Going into third year means I am entering into the home stretch of my 4-year OD program. Next year, because the fourth years will all be gone on rotations, my class will be the most senior students physically at NECO. I’m very proud of what my class has accomplished and I look forward to all the challenges of third year. Bring it on, OD3! 

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.