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.
On Saturday morning, we could attend one of two lectures: “New Developments in Glaucoma” and “The Neuro-Ophthalmic Manifestations of Concussion.” I chose to attend the latter, presented by Drs. Len Messner (who was also honored as Optometrist of the Year at the convention!) and Danielle Leong. They spoke about the importance of early detection of concussion and the life-threatening implications of neurological damage. They also discussed the King-Devick test, which evaluates eye saccades to indicate the likelihood of having a mild traumatic brain injury or concussion.
Following the lecture I headed to the exhibit hall, where attendees could learn about new instruments and tools, test their lens flap surgery skills, pick up samples, etc. Among the freebies I selected were contact lenses, a handy near chart and, my favorite, an ICO badge for my white coat.
Our last commitment of the convention was just for students. Dr. Robert Steinmetz held a lecture called “Surviving and Thriving After Graduation,” and detailed his efforts in opening his own private practice cold after graduating from ICO in 2003. Hearing him talk about his experiences and eventual success as the owner of SoLo Eye Care in the South Loop, only a few miles north of campus, was inspiring. He discussed what we could expect to earn upon graduating and how we could use our skills to become successful professionals.