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Third Year Jitters

Group of students and doctors in white coats at Roslindale clinic

I cannot believe I am a third year student now! It feels great blogging again now that the fall semester is under way. I had a wonderful time working in clinic the first part of the summer. As third year students, the majority of our summer session consists of 30-40 hours of clinical education. My placement this summer was at the NECO Center for Eye Care in Roslindale working alongside clinical faculty from the College. This center is one of NECO’s two owned and operated clinics.

After six weeks working at this clinical placement, I feel like my skills have drastically improved and I feel a lot more confident in my examination findings.  The most challenging part for me was being confident in fitting scleral and rigid gas permeable contact lenses because there are specific measurements and calculations to follow.  The only way to get better was to keep practicing and that was exactly what I did. 

On Thursdays, I worked with vision therapy patients.  I would help diagnose the patient and come up with an eye-exercise plan.  I really enjoyed this because I was able to see my patient on a weekly basis and see the improvement each week—it made my job well worth it and I felt a bit of accomplishment. 

What sets third year optometry students from the first two years is the amount of responsibility we have in clinic, as well as learning to multitask.  We are required to stack patients.  What I mean by this is that as my first patient is dilating I take the next patient back and perform a full eye examination.  Once I dilate my second patient and I will have them take a seat in the waiting room and finish the rest of the examination for my first patient.  This will allow me to become more efficient and perform the necessary tests in a timely manner. 

This fall, I am in clinic at Lynn Community Health Center and the NECO Center for Eye Care Commonwealth.  A majority of the patient population in Lynn is Hispanic and speaks Spanish. Working here will allow me to improve my skills in Spanish.  Because I am placed at a community health center, many of my patients have multiple diagnoses and their electronic health records are all in the same system. I am able to view a patient’s records from their primary care physician to get a full picture of their health.  If a patient has an ocular condition, it can also be seen in the other parts of the body and so being able to see the PCP records is helpful to make my diagnosis. 

As a third year student, I will also be involved in writing referral letters to a patient’s PCP or any other doctor when I see a condition in a patient’s eyes that they should know about. Over the summer, I saw an existing patient who had dense cataracts as well as high blood pressure.  I explained various cataract removal options to her and wrote a referral letter to her ophthalmologist and primary care physician.  I am looking forward to the rest of the semester and the different ocular diseases I will encounter!

Aside from having clinic placements 2 days per week this year, we are taking a more advanced ocular disease course, low vision, and business management courses.  I am most looking forward to business management because at the end of the year we will present a project in which we create our own private practice in all aspects from designing to billing to the number of employees we would hire.  It’s a good change from the usual ocular courses and gets us thinking more about our lives after optometry school. 

Biren is in his third year at NECO. He is from Chicago, Illinois. During his free time, he enjoys traveling, being outdoors, running, and trying new foods. He always enjoys great company and making new friends.