Everyone says that the hardest aspects of third year are summer quarter and retina. But for me, fall quarter (which just wrapped up) was an endless struggle to stay afloat. I remembered summer quarter fondly and I wanted nothing more than to get away. Two weeks ago was fall break–there were no classes to attend, but we still have clinic. When I completed my clinic shifts, I boarded an early flight to the East Coast, where I met up with one of my brothers for a mini-vacation. And it was great. We drove into New York City and spent a couple of precious days sight-seeing and touring the great metropolis. It was my first time in New York, and what struck me was just how expansive and endless Manhattan is. Upon returning to Chicago, I couldn’t help but realize how tiny my own city seemed in comparison.
The Woolworth Building on 5th Avenue facing Central Park and the legendary Plaza Hotel
Left: The never ending skyscraper strewn avenue. Right: …filled with endless yellow NYC taxis
As another academic year comes to a close, schedules for the first quarter of third year have been emailed out. Unlike the summer between first and second years, when students have the luxury of going home or taking exotic vacations, this summer will be a working one. My classmates and I will be attending class and we’ll also have three shifts in clinic, a continuation of the Patient Care Program we began this year.
Our two Primary Care shifts will be similar to our experience in this service area thus far, the primary difference being that we’ll no longer be paired with a partner. In addition to working alone, we’ll also be caring for multiple patients during a single shift. During my work in clinic this year, I’ve grown accustomed to discussing tests and patients’ results with my partner. I loved the convenience of having someone scribe while I doctored, or doctor while I scribed. If I had a question about a condition, I always had someone to ask. If I couldn’t find my tiny tonometry probe, there was someone in the same room with one. But my comfort level aside, I’m actually looking forward to going solo. I’ll be forced to rely on myself and truly develop my clinical skills.
It’s been so long since I’ve picked up a brush, dipped it in paint and laid a thick stroke on canvas. I’ve always loved art and was immersed in it when I was younger. Now that I’m immersed with time-consuming classes, it only makes sense that I have fewer opportunities to pursue creative endeavors.
That changed last month, when one weeknight evening I was transported to a wonderful place that let me forget about all the drugs I had to memorize. My roommate Naz booked us an art class at VIP Paints, a surprise early birthday gift.
Two weeks down, nine weeks to go. It’s certainly too early to be counting down spring quarter, the last of my second year. But I can’t help it! Once the quarter is over, my classmates and I will be halfway done with our education at ICO and even closer to reaching our visionary goals. But let’s backtrack a bit and talk about what’s been going on here so far.
When winter quarter ended in mid-February and numerous sighs of relief were expelled at the end of our last final, all you could see was happiness–a weeklong break was upon us! In celebratory fashion, my friends and I toasted cherry pop sugar cookies and grinned from ear to ear. When night came and rest was somewhat caught up on, we headed out to Eataly, Mario Batali’s 63,000-square-foot food emporium. Housing a market with more than 10,000 gourmet items as well as 23 eateries, Eataly opened its doors to much fanfare last December in River North. The venue was buzzing with hoards of customers and the lines were long, but the payoff for all the waiting was worth it–I’m still dreaming about that hot crepe oozing with chocolately goodness from the Nutella bar.
My classmates and I are taking six courses right now: Ocular Pharmacology, Ocular Disease, Physical Optics, Physical Diagnosis, Optometry Seminar and Microbiology. We’re in the third and final quarter of the Pharmacology and Optics sequences. In Pharmacology, we’re now focusing on the drugs we’ll be prescribing to our future patients. Optics course is looking a lot like physics right now.
“What did you study and how did you prepare to apply?”
Across the roundtable from me sat a second year college student–wide-eyed, curious and ambitious. She was considering applying to healthcare professional schools and was seeking my advice. In response to her question, I told her and everyone listening in that I majored in biological sciences and took classes to fulfill my prerequisites that included biology, chemistry, calculus and so on. In addition to the required courses, I took other classes that interested me like theatre and virology. She followed up by asking about the clubs I participated in and other commitments I had while in undergrad. I was in Mission for Vision, a club focused on eye care. Outside of school, I worked in a corporate eye care center and later in a private practice to further immerse myself within the field.
After answering the student’s questions, I was met by the nods of eight others seated with us at the large dining table where we shared lunch. We were all taking part in a program last month called Taking the Next Step, an annual event hosted by my alma mater, the University of Chicago. During the event, alums of the university like myself interact with second and third year students and talk about life after graduation–what we’re doing now and how we got there. Students at the event attend two sessions: a formal lunch where they share a table with one or two alumni, and a group panel where they can ask established professionals about their career paths.