As a prospective student, I was always curious to know how externship selection worked. All my life, the best everything was awarded to those with the highest grades (or “marks,” for my fellow Canadians) or standardized test score. Personally, I think they deserve it. I expected externships to be no different–students would be ranked by their GPA, clinical skills, perhaps leadership involvement, and then allowed to select accordingly. The top-ranked students would get to choose whatever their heart desired. Seriously, if you have a 4.0 at ICO, I think you freaking deserve top choice, you smarty pants, you. Actually, I’ve heard rumors that this is how it happens at some other optometry schools, and even at ICO in the past.
But that’s not how it happened for the class of 2015. So friends, get ready to hear all about the most draining, complicated, twisted mind game ever invented. As blogger Michelle once observed, it’s almost like a fantasy football draft. Except this affects your future for the next year, and possibly longer, depending on the type of experience you have.
Disclaimer: This guide reflects the experience of my class only. It may change for your class, depending on what style you vote for and ideas from your class reps. Here’s a neat little diagram in case you get lost:
When you live in Chicago, it’s bound to happen that friends and family will visit you. The city is lovely, and I tell everyone to come and take advantage of a free stay. You’ll notice, however, that after a while, you are bound to re-visit the same Chicago tourist attractions time and time again. I could try and fit an entire itinerary in this post, but instead, I think the Shedd Aquarium deserves it’s own.
Shedd gift shop with a giant octopus that blinks
After being here for a good few years now, I learned some neat things about Shedd that might save you some money. As the blog’s coupon queen, I think it’s pretty helpful to know that Shedd has Illinois Resident Discount Days, which are designated days you can bring proof of residence in the state and visit the aquarium (not including special exhibits) for free. What about all your friends from out of town, you ask? General admission is just $8, and residents get $3 off admission if it’s not a resident discount day. (Note: General admission is not really advertised anywhere at the ticket booth, but trust me, there is such a thing!) I know you’re probably thinking, ‘Well, their other regular packages go up to about $35, what on earth am I missing here?’ I think the main attraction that I’ve noticed missing from general admission access is Stingray Touch, Jellies, the Aquatic Show, the Oceanarium and the 4-D movie. If you’re really looking for a fancy time, you can meet the penguins and belugas and everything for a premium price. If you’re tight on time or money, or if you’ve already visited everything once, $5 is a great deal.
From what I hear, after the summer quarter of Retina, our focus as third years will shift towards boards. But before that time comes, our class reps Alex and Jenna coordinated a trip to Six Flags Great America so we could let loose and have fun. We got a coach bus that took us directly from the RC to the amusement park and back. We just had to bring extra money for food inside the park.
I’d never been to Great America–or any Six Flags park, for that matter–before. As a Canadian, I’d heard how amazing it is and how “itty bitty” it makes Canada’s Wonderland look. I was really excited to finally have the chance to go!
The first ride of our outing was the Viper.
As Fatima recently wrote, every year we’re required to help out at least once at a vision screening. It’s really up to us which one we want to do, but I personally enjoy getting things out of the way before my schedule gets too crammed. So for my third year, I decided to participate at the Special Olympics’ Opening Eyes vision screening, sponsored by the Lions Club. The event took place over two days in Normal, Ill., about two hours from Chicago. Those of us who stayed both days were provided with a hotel room, as well as a delicious dinner at the end of the first day. Some people just participated on just the second day; everyone received a T-shirt and a box lunch.
The cool thing about doing a vision screening is that you get to work alongside faculty members, as well as residents that you may not have had a chance to work with, such as Drs. Goodfellow, Trachimowitz, Allison, Block and Gabriel, and even some of the opticians from the IEI’s Eyewear Center. Dr. Allison brought her lovely little daughter along to help out as well. Together, we screened about 240 athletes.
Dr. Goodfellow doing retinoscopy
I know I said in an earlier post that I look forward to development lab with all the adorable children every week, but it’s actually tough to pick a favorite between that and our contacts lab.
I LOVE labs with Dr. Gunderson, someone you’ll familiarize yourself with in second year since he also teaches ocular physiology. If you haven’t met him yet, you’ll learn soon after you meet him that this man has the most interesting (and hilarious) stories any faculty member has ever told. I don’t know about you, but good humor makes me learn better. If it doesn’t, it at least certainly makes my day better.
I’ve worn contact lenses since I was in seventh grade. When I first learned to handle contacts, it took me two hours to put them in and at least 45 minutes to take them out. It took me about a whole month to get better at it. Now that I’ve had so much first-hand experience, it’s interesting to learn what exactly I’m putting in my eye, and what my optometrist has been doing all this time when she says she’s “checking” them. It’s also a really weird (in a good way) having to insert and remove contacts in our partner’s eye, and having them do the same on me. But you’ll get used to having your eyeballs get poked around, the same way you got used to monocular vision from all those dilations in second year. It’s not as bad as it sounds, I swear. It really doesn’t hurt. Unless you put them in inside out.