7 Tips for ICO Externships

Green landscape and mountains, reflecting off clear, still lake


I’m officially in my first rotation away from the Illinois Eye Institute- and, truth be told, home in general. This new adventure has landed me in Denver, Colorado. Life is truly different from first year, and below, I’ve compiled some insight for you on just what ICO externships entail. Enjoy!


  1. Learn to work like a regular person. That’s right,img_9014 you read that correctly. In fourth year, you have a very routined day and I LOVE IT. You go to work, learn, and- are you ready for this? Besides for boards part II and III, you can go home and not have that familiar obligation of studying for hours on end. Let’s hashtag that –> #notstudying.
  2. Meet amazing new people. I only knew a few friends when I got here. Even so, Dr. Teresa Carlson and ophthalmic technician Kara at Insight Vision Group treat me like a true part of the team. They’re helping me grow as clinician and also in my technical ordering at Starbucks.img_9122-1
  3. Get out of your comfort zone. In most cases, your externships will take you to places that, in most other professions, you just wouldn’t have the option to live in. In Denver, I’ve joined a gym and take classes 5x/week, climb mountains EVERY weekend, do my ritual Sunday brunch (favorite – Syrup), explore new restaurants, and answer every opportunity with a “Yes.”
  4. Explore new places. Denver offers so much more than I could have ever imagined. You just don’t get mountains in the Midwest! My weekends… well, I’m making the most of them. I’ve climbed two 14-ers and counting. (P.S. What’s a 14-er??) img_8912
  5. Be challenged. Externships put you in real-life situations. You will truly just never know what’s coming through the door. A few mornings ago, I had a retinal detachment followed by a scleritis followed by herpetic keratitis, then some macular edema from a latent diabetic. Can you say whirlwind?
  6. What you’ll feel like. Some days you may feel lost; or worse… like a tech. You have to realize you’re still in the process of school. You have to be willing to do anything and everything. However, some days you’ll feel like a doctor, and there are few feelings better than that.
  7. Small tips for you. Bring a small notebook/pen. Be attentive. Make an impression like your interviewing. Always be “on.” Have fun. Work hard. Trust the process.img_8734


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