Was it Worth it? A Student Clinician’s Point of View

As my second year at ICO comes to an end, I’m beginning to notice a shift in the way I think of myself. I am a student. I am also a clinician. I don’t know everything, and I still have a long way to go, but I’m not the same person I was when I started my training as an optometrist.

This feeling has crept up on me. I distinctly remember feeling lost and clueless during my second year clinic sessions, but I can’t pinpoint exactly when that was. All I know now is that I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. ICO has chipped away at my petrified heart and left a pair of glasses in its place.

Over-dramatic? Perhaps. That’s the only way to celebrate a big change.

My first few sessions felt like trials by fire. I dragged my feet to clinic and threw myself into the work because I knew it’d be “good for me” in the long run. I did it because I knew I would learn from my experiences. That’s not a lot to motivate you through your first few clinic sessions, I know.

Now, working with patients feels natural. I know what I’m talking about. I’ve become more confident in my knowledge and skills. The biggest difference is probably in how I deal with unexpected circumstances. I’ve found that I know and can deal with more than I give myself credit for; I just need to keep a cool head.

My education at ICO has been tough for good reason. I’ve been taught most of what I need to help the people who come into the Illinois Eye Institute. I still make mistakes and feel clueless sometimes, but now I know that if I ever need help, I can ask my classmates and colleagues, or the attending clinicians who have seen almost everything there is to see in the world of eye care. …and it doesn’t hurt to review the notes I’ve accumulated over the last two years!

Third year is less than a month away. This is where it becomes real- “realer” than it already is now. At some point within the next year, I will be seeing patients by myself. The first year students that are joining the class of 2020 will be shadowing me. Someone (or several someones) will be looking to me to set the example of how to take good care of a patient. I don’t know if I’m ready for that yet. I’m nervous, but excited.

I’ve learned a lot this year. Sometimes, it feels like there’s too much to know. Other times, I question why I’m learning what I learn. There are days and weeks where everything can feel so repetitive. In the end, though, it truly has all played a part in shaping me into a more confident and capable clinician.

So, was it worth it?

I’d say yes.

Yes. It has been worth it.

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