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Powering Through My Final Weeks as an OD 4

Maria in front of her research poster Maria presents her research poster at ARVO.

Where has the time gone?

It doesn’t feel like it has been almost a whole year since I started my journey as an OD 4. I remember being both nervous and excited about beginning full time patient care. I also remember having a significant amount of stress about passing my various optometric board examinations and having to write my thesis for the MS program, all before the end of May. I can honestly say that at this time last year, graduation seemed like a far away, impossible dream.

With a great deal of perseverance, and the help of many caffeinated beverages, I managed to make it through all of the above. I wrote my American and Canadian board examinations and wrote and defended my Master’s thesis. To top it all off, I was also able to present my research at the Association for Research and Vision in Ophthalmology (ARVO) conference in Honolulu. 

It is hard to believe that I have been a NECO student for almost four whole years. It is also hard to believe that this is my final blog post. Hopefully, I’ve managed to impart some words of wisdom and helped give people a little insight into the NECO student experience. 

I sometimes wish I could go back in time and tell past Maria about all of her future achievements and all that she will manage to overcome.  I would have told myself as an OD1 that it’s not just about memorizing the material; it’s about understanding it. All the detailed (and sometimes dry) information provided in these introductory classes would be expanded upon in the future and would be important in developing a deeper understanding of the workings of the human eye and vision. Also, trying to cram all that information in the night before an exam would no longer be nearly as effective a tactic as it was in undergrad. 

I would have told myself as an OD2 that it’s important to learn to relax. Patient care can be stressful and there is undoubtedly a learning curve when you first start seeing patients in clinic as an OD2. However, it is important to get past all the personal insecurities and doubts about technical skills and focus on the most important thing: providing patients with the best care possible.

I would have told myself as an OD3 that, yes, while studying for boards is important, so is self-care, taking study breaks and experiencing the wonderful city of Boston and its many day-to-day activities, special events and food!   

I can’t wait for graduation, not just because I finally get to receive my OD degree, but because I get to see all my classmates together once again. My fellow OD4s have travelled far and wide for their clinical placements: China, Alaska, Hawaii, you name it. But soon we will all be reunited on that graduation stage, taking our final bittersweet bows as optometry students and starting our lives as Doctors of Optometry.  

Although I’m eager to head back home to practice in Canada after graduation, I will sincerely miss Boston, NECO and all the friends, peers, preceptors and professors that have helped me and inspired me throughout this four-year journey. Good luck and congratulations OD4s!

Maria
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.