Second year has been great thus far. Instead of the typical three exams we faced each week during first year, we now usually only have two per week. Sometimes we have just one! Such was the case last week, when our only exam was Pharmacology, on Friday. I was extra excited to finish this exam because Pharmacology is our trickiest class and an exciting weekend awaited. Nothing spells fun like a weekend away from school with friends. Even if it is school-related.
Each year, the Illinois Optometric Association hosts a convention for ODs and students to meet, mingle, network and learn. This year, the convention was held at the Westin in Itasca, a western suburb of Chicago. ICO students are encouraged to go, and we’re even able to stay at the hotel for free. I passed up this opportunity first year, but several of my peers and I decided to attend this time around. Friday evening, we made the drive to Itasca from campus in under an hour, talking about of everything except school and stoping at Steak ‘n Shake for dinner. Once we arrived at the hotel, we checked out the IOA’s Hospitality Suite. Drinks were served and guests tried their vocals at karaoke. We mingled with our classmates and others, and clapped when a group of our peers braved the crowd to sing Thrift Opt.
Once classes resumed last month, my fellow second years and I began working in the IEI as student clinicians. Whereas last year we were flies on a wall, observing and admiring the skills of the upperclassmen, we’re now endeavoring to provide care in the PCP program ourselves.
At the end of first year, we learned how to complete a gamut of entrance and problem-based tests, evaluate the posterior pole with direct ophthalmoscopy, and determine a patient’s distance prescription. Half of my classmates and I are putting these skills to use in the first half of the quarter, while the rest of my colleagues will be clinicians later on. While practicing, we work with an assigned partner under the guide and eye of an attending doctor.
My partner, Ashley, and I are in clinic each Monday afternoon. The morning starts off with Binocular Vision at 9, is followed by Optics at 11, and then Pharmacology until 12:50. For us lucky few in the afternoon shift on Monday, that means that we have about 10 minutes–depending if we get out of class on time–to get from the lecture hall on the first floor, to our lockers on three, to our office in suite 1.
Our first day in clinic together, Ashley and I brought our cases of equipment along to our designated office, took out the necessary tools and attempted to organize our gear and arrange things neatly. But between the two of us and our trial lens sets, our briefcases and our BIO cases, there was only so much order to our chaos. We nibbled on granola bars between setting up, logging in and opening EHR, and then raced to meet our attending doctor and receive our patient.
Second and third year students at ICO are required to volunteer at a vision screening once a year. These screenings are often at health fairs held around the city, which are attended by individuals who may not be able to get eye exams regularly elsewhere. All throughout first year, we received emails about vision screenings, though we were not yet required to participate. When Dr. Wyles emailed us about a volunteer opportunity last weekend, I decided to sign up alongside my fellow second year Julie Minix and 10 third years.
The vision screening took place on the campus of ICO’s neighbor, IIT, at the 10th annual Health, Fitness and Fun Fair, hosted by Illinois State Senator Mattie Hunter. While we provided free vision screenings, other organizations provided health and wellness screenings, massages and haircuts. There was plenty of entertainment at the fair including dancing, a hula hoop contest and performances by the South Shore Drill Team and the Jesse White Tumblers. A balloon launch to salute survivors and victims of breast cancer opened the fair.
I recently checked out the Art Institute of Chicago’s latest exhibit–Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity–and was not disappointed. I’ve been to the Art Institute countless times but it was my first time that I queued in line. Like always, I used my student ID from undergrad to receive my gratis ticket with the title of my choice exhibit printed in bold. Ticket in hand, I met droves of people pondering where to go, asking questions of museum employees, and taking endless pictures–tourists!
Past the Grand Staircase and through the Alsdorf Galleries and into the Modern Wing, I came to the exhibit of my dreams–which arrived to Chicago last month following a showing at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art–and then frowned. “No photography.” I can never predict when photos at exhibits will be allowed. Though this exhibit is only for a limited time, so was the Picasso and Chicago exhibit, and pictures were allowed there. I captured a shot of the title wall before the exhibit entrance and walked into the art-filled rooms that followed.
The summer between first and second years is the only one ICO students have off from school and I plan on making the very most of it. As first year was coming to an end, I noted a few different things that I wanted to do, like travel to somewhere I’ve never been and read a great new novel. It’s been a while since I’ve read a page-turner and so I’m on the lookout for a great summer read or two. In addition to the bullets on my to-do list, my calendar is speckled with events and priorities that I’m excited for. Between numerous weddings on my calendar, dozens of fashion soirées that keep popping up, films I’m watching (can’t wait to see “Man of Steel”) and that trip to NY I’m coveting, I’m hoping this summer is great and that its memory will soothe the wound of its future loss. OK, that’s a bit melodramatic.