What A Difference a Year Makes

The notion of linear time may be nothing more than our minds’ way of categorizing information into a chronicle.* Theories suggest that “everything that has occurred, is occurring, and will occur is happening simultaneously. We see it happening in linear form simply to perceive it.”

One year ago, I had only clinical observations and direct care entrance testing under my belt. Today, I see patients on my own at the Illinois Eye Institute. Whenever someone asks me how far along I am in optometry school, it all just seems like a continuous blur… but I manage to classify my current state as ‘third year’.

My sense of time is absent because my schedule is busier and more packed than ever. I am no longer only responsible for being in lecture most of the day; I seem to be doing various tasks all at once. Now, it feels like I am simultaneously in clinic, charting, doing hands-on work in labs, and doing work studies along with a few lectures scattered in. The transition from second to third year is a noticeable one. So much more of your time is dedicated to patient care.

The level to which your skill set turns from amateur to professional is astounding. The amount of responsibility you gain is tremendous. One thing I have noticed about being in school at Illinois College of Optometry is that attending doctors, professors, and colleagues all help you to push boundaries you didn’t even know you had. It is important to continually challenge yourself. If I hadn’t been pushed here, I don’t think I would be able to do it as a future doctor.

The light at the end of the tunnel is still a dim glow. However, even just being halfway into this summer quarter of third year, I can already feel things starting to come together. Connections are being made between ocular anatomy, optometry skills, and creating a diagnosis and treatment plan for a real patient. When I look back, it’s hard to remember a time when I did not know ‘optometry’.

Transitioning from student to doctor is a profound time. A time in which you can reflect on how little you knew when you started and how much knowledge you have gained. A time where power and accountability are shifted toward you, sometimes faster than you think they should. A time where you become the expert, to the point where a person’s health is in your care. A time- and a feeling- that cannot be replaced.

An important reminder for any journey: always keep in mind where you started. Hardships and triumphs are only small snippets of one’s entire life journey. So, do not continually mourn the same failures or celebrate the same successes. Carry on, because some say that everything that has occurred, is occurring, and will occur is all in this moment. That is so difficult to remember in this reality. We have to remember to value the transition, and the way to perceive the change over time.

 

*For more information about simultaneous time theory visit: https://journals.aps.org/pr/pdf/10.1103/PhysRev.47.777

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