Just when I finally got accustomed to telling everyone I’m in my second year at ICO, I am *gasp* now in my third year.
…is when your day begins at 8 a.m.
That’s right. Whereas during first and second years we had exams early in the morning, now we’ve got early-morning classes. You would think that since our lectures are all recorded, we can watch the early lecture later, right? Sorry to break it to you, fellow night owls, but for one class, attendance is mandatory, and for the other, answering questions in class comprises four percent of our grade. So if you’re going to study, better get it done during the day time. And if you’re not used to it, the security office always has coffee!
…is when we start learning about contact lenses!
First quarter of third year is probably the scariest, most exciting, rewarding experience at ICO. We’ve finished all the basics–optics, physiology, anatomy, etc.–and now we can move onto everything we’ve anticipated doing as an optometrist: retina/ocular disease, contact lenses, etc. According to our contact lens professor, Dr. Jurkus, by the end of the quarter in August, we’ll have learned everything we need to know to fit the average patient with contacts (I know, it sounds pretty exciting to me too!). I’ve worn contacts since I was in high school, and now I can finally learn everything about the little pieces of plastic I put on my eyes.
… is when we see patients on our own!
We have a lot to be nervous about and look forward to this quarter. For starters, we see our first patient by ourselves this quarter, two shifts a week. Of course, we have our lovely attending optometrists there to check our work, but we no longer have a fellow student partner when we see patients. If you don’t picture me drenched in sweat from simultaneous fear and excitement, you’re getting the wrong picture. Lucky for us, our patients at the IEI are usually extremely patient. My first day in clinic this quarter, I got so excited I took a photo of my exam lane once I set it up to document the moment right before I wiped my sweaty palms and took in my first patient. I hope to the optometry gods that I learn from my attendings and get better and more efficient at what I do. It’s hard to imagine how I aced the many practicals and still manage to struggle with optometric techniques.
…is when we take Ocular Disease 3.1 – Retina.
We also have the most difficult course (according to urban legend, aka the many stories from the third years who have preceded us) in all of our ICO career, Retina. I may be of a different opinion later on, but so far I’ve very much enjoyed what I’ve learned in the class–especially because I know I’m going to be applying this information in clinic for the rest of my life. We’ve looked at the fundus so many times now, I really wish I knew what was going on “back there” when I say to my patients, “Now, I’m just going to look at the of the back of your eye.” I don’t want to just look–I want to identify disease if it’s there, and treat it. Retina will be a tough conquest, but it’s worth every effort.