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Countdown to Boards

Posted by on Jan 22, 2014 in Blogs | 0 comments

The National Board Examiners In Optometry and the Canadian Assessment of Competence in Optometry exams were always a mystery to me. Until perhaps two months ago, all I knew was that I had to write some sort of exam that’s going to determine whether I get to practice my passion for the rest of my life. Although I’m Canadian, I chose to take the American boards to give myself more options when I graduate. Those of us taking the NBEOs begin the exam on March 19.

The most influential factor in my decision to come to ICO was the board exam pass rates. I scoured the internet forums, talked to optometry students, and went on program websites to understand how students from each school perform on board exams. ICO’s amazing pass rates were reason enough for me to brave the cold winters of Chicago. After all, the whole point of getting an optometric education is to achieve this one goal: obtain a license to practice optometry.

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Lab and Clinic Etiquette

Lab and Clinic Etiquette

Posted by on Jan 17, 2014 in Blogs | 0 comments

Half way through our second year, the class of 2016 has had plenty of experience in lab. By now, we’re all comfortable with practically pressing our faces together for Direct Ophthalmoscopy, or contorting the faces of our patients to get a good look for BIO. I’d like to give a few pointers on simple etiquette in lab that we’ve all learned since first year. Some of this may seem obvious, but as we get more comfortable and get into a routine, we often fall into bad habits unconsciously. On top of that, some people may not feel comfortable correcting you. This makes it even worse, because as you cross over and become an OD, these habits stick with you and could affect your patients’ experience, and determine whether or not they return or find somewhere else to go.

Quick disclaimer: I’m not saying I’ve necessarily experienced every item on this list this first hand. Some of this comes from joking around with classmates, casual conversation or just common sense.

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How to Survive 72 Hours of Flight Delays

Posted by on Jan 13, 2014 in Blogs | 1 comment

Happy New Year my little ones!

2014 is a big year–This is the year my amazing class, rowdy and rambunctious as we are, gets to cross across the threshold and add a couple of initials to our names.

The New Year is always a good time to aspire for great things. My friends and I were discussing resolutions the other day. I admire people who are determined to achieve something tangible by the end of the twelve months. Learn to play the piano. Read more books. Go to a foreign country. Do an eye exam in Spanish. But I’ve always been drawn to the quieter ones–express more gratitude, for example.

Maybe it’s the eggnog or something, but I felt oddly at peace when I left home to fly back to Chicago on January 4. The snow was gently falling atop the trees and settling onto the mountains. Cheeks were rosy red and the Tim Horton’s coffee was roasted warm.

Everything was still and calm and beautiful.

2014, I thought to myself, you are going to be an amazing year.

And then it hits.

The polar vortex descends and your resolutions go out the door. It is -40 degrees and you want to die. You are consumed by rage and angst and heavy metal music. All the season’s tidings and happy fuzzy feelings are minced.

Oh. Was that too harsh?

I should have known when I saw the screen at the departures check-in counter. I should have known that as soon as the word “cancelled” was flashing next to my flight to Chicago I was in for a long haul. I should have known if one plane is too cold, other planes are too cold. I should have known if my flight today could get cancelled, so could tomorrow’s. And the next day’s.

All in all, I spent 72 hours waiting in Toronto before I flew back to Chiberia.

Below, I’ve compiled some survival tips if you’re ever in a similar situation. (I hope you’re not, by the way. 2014 is a new Siva. A less vindictive one.)

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A Winter Wonderland in Chicago

A Winter Wonderland in Chicago

Posted by on Jan 8, 2014 in Blogs | 1 comment

Wintertime has commenced once again in Chicago. Now, if you’re native to the area like me, you may be used to these negative degrees, blistering high winds, and what may seem like mountains of snow. However, with this polar weather come many, many activities that can only be done in this season and only in Chicago.

Let me start again in saying that winter in Chicago is unlike any other. I’ve been known to be somewhat of a homebody during winter, usually staying inside and watching movies whenever possible rather than venturing out into the snowy abyss before me. However, my winter level of activity this year has me feeling kind of triumphant, because there have just been too many pursuits that could not be ignored.

Before the holidays, my roommate Michelle was perhaps a little discouraged with the impending freezing temperatures that surrounded her birthday weekend. Were we to let it stop us? Of course not, and we decided to go ice skating in Millennium Park (right in front of the Bean). A group of us who live in the Residential Complex took a straight-shot 20-minute bus ride. Once at the park, we rented skates for a mere $10 and enjoyed unlimited ice-skating (what a steal!). I couldn’t believe it myself. As in any big city, it’s nice to find affordable activities that are also memorable ones. We skated for an hour or so, about 15 of us. The Canadians were really in their element, let me tell you. I was doing pretty well by the end, but I was definitely shown up as my classmates effortlessly glided by me as if they’d been doing it for 20 years (which many of them had been). The air was crisp and thou could feel the holiday season as the park was lit up with lights and a rosy color adorned everyone’s cheeks. Winter in Chicago really just can’t be beat.

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How to Survive Your Loved Ones’ Eye-Related Questions Over Winter Break

Posted by on Dec 17, 2013 in Blogs | 1 comment

You know it’s going to happen. As soon as your family and friends learn that you’re even beginning to consider a career as an eye doctor, the questions will come rolling in–if they haven’t already. It comes from a good place–a place of pride for your accomplishments and genuine curiosity–but eventually, I promise you, you will hear about every last ocular ailment of everyone in your life. So I think you’d be wise to begin preparing your answers now. Here’s a head start on how to handle some of the most common discussions you’re likely to be forced into over the winter break.

Cataracts (acquired lens opacification)
Also known as “Cadillacs,” this is a common condition almost everyone has heard of, and people are generally more scared about it than they need to be. Keep your emphasis on the good things here: Cataracts usually progress very slowly, so there’s no rush to do anything. We normally wait until the vision is blurred to the point it interferes with everyday activities, then refer for an outpatient surgery with a very low rate of complications. In the mean time, put on some UV-blocking sunglasses to try and slow down progression.

Myopia (nearsightedness)
I feel like about 50-60 percent of my close friends are “legally blind without [their] glasses.” Don’t bother getting into the definition of legal blindness here. Acknowledge that their vision is blurry, make sure they’re not abusing their contacts, and let this one go.

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RC Life

RC Life

Posted by on Dec 10, 2013 in Blogs | 0 comments

When you’re accepted to ICO, the question of whether or not to live in the Residential Complex–the RC–comes up. There are numerous benefits to living in the RC, and there are many reasons why one would choose not to. At this point, I myself am very glad that I opted to live there!

Living in the RC is a very unique experience and I would encourage all new students to partake in this experience to enjoy the benefits of living right across the street from school. I think it’s an especially great experience for first years. The convenience of having the college and all of its amenities right next door is absolutely invaluable; in your first year of optometry school when you are extremely busy (you can’t imagine how busy you will be) you will have the fitness center, cafeteria, library and countless cozy study areas just two minutes away. Additionally, there are  many upperclassmen willing to lend an ear to help you get through the stressful times, or to simply provide tutoring or test preparation advice.

For me, coming from Canada and never having been away from home, it was nice to know that I had a place to live already lined up before getting here. I can’t imagine how stressful it would have been knowing that I still had to find an acceptable place to live before classes started. This really helped with adapting to life in a completely new city, adjusting to optometry school expectations, and meeting and forming friendships with many, many new people.

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