RSO Third Years take the “Optometry Knowledge Challenge”

As a second year, Part I of NBEO seems like a distant worry, but for third year students, it’s right around the corner! UIWRSO students excel on boards, so I wanted to know what our school is doing to prepare us for this daunting examination. One way that the school does this is by having an “Optometry Knowledge Challenge” game for students based on the science questions they will most likely see on the exam in March. I was able to not only sit in on this activity, but also judge and read the questions myself! The game was created by our very own Dean, Dr. Timothy Wingert, and led by two of UIWRSO’s faculty members, Dr. Rick Trevino and Dr. Carolyn Majcher. Almost all faculty and staff helped in some way by setting-up, judging, and/or developing questions for the games.

This was such a great event to go to for several reasons. First of all, UIWRSO provides the students with lunch. We all know we can’t study or think straight on an empty stomach! Students got to talk and eat for a while before the games. Prior to the actual game, students had access to the rules and the way the game would be played and judged. This means that the students had no surprises; they felt comfortable, which probably helps with the nerves they may experience with the real test. Students were assigned different seats to make sure that the games were fair and everyone had a different table rotation.

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The game board looked incredible! Students rolled dice to see who went first and got to pick their game pieces, which happened to be different color-tipped eye drop bottles! Students rolled the dice, and the color they landed on indicated the category of question: basic science, optics, disease, or vision science. Students answered questions for one point each (sometimes a bonus question for two points!) and rolled again for correct answers. If they got it wrong, they wouldn’t get the extra roll at the end. This was important because the first to the finish got an extra ten points!

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As a second year, it was a great experience to see the type of questions that were asked. First of all, I was able to recognize and answer many of the questions, which made me feel confident about the skills and topics I have learned about thus far. Secondly, the students who were actually playing the game knew the questions very well too, so everything up until this point has helped them to study for the upcoming boards. The students switched to another table after every game with new players and a judge (usually a faculty member). They played about six or seven games.

Little did I know, this was the second time the students had played this “Optometry Knowledge Challenge”  game. This meant that all the points from the first round of games and this round would be added up and there would be a winner! First prize was $500, second prize was $250, and third prize was $100. This is a great incentive for students because it can help pay for boards. The winners from this year (from left to right) were: Supriya Krishnan (3rd Place), Caroline Dang (runner up), Jessica Dente (runner up), Alicia Ketcham (runner up), Samatha Bohl (runner up), Desirae Brinkley (2nd Place), Amanda Achilles (1st Place).

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I asked the students if they felt the games helped them prepare for boards, and several told me that they really appreciated it because it was a good way to have fun while studying. They were used to just reading it or maybe utilizing flashcards, but now they can play games with their classmates and professors, as well as have a chance at winning money. Who doesn’t like that? I am very excited for next year for multiple reasons, but now the future doesn’t seem as scary because I know I will have the preparation needed for boards. UIWRSO and its faculty care enough about our success to create a fun game for us to study for one of the most important exams in our life.

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A special thank you to Dr. Trevino for providing several of the pictures seen here. 

Politically Involved as an Optometry Student

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Left to Right: Duc Tran, Denisse Lopez, Reid Cluff, and Dr. Narayanan.

As an optometry student, I admired how the InfantSEE®/Optometry Cares program was established by optometrists lobbying and networking with U.S. politicians.  InfantSEE is just one of the many feats that the AOA – American Optometric Association have made possible to the public and demonstrated support for optometrists. In hopes of becoming a part of the legislative activity, I became an officer of the Student Texas Optometric Association (STOA).  It was my goal to take an active role in the political association that opens doors for optometrists as well as improves the visual welfare of the people. At the Texas Optometric Association (TOA) board meetings, I was very impressed by the leadership and organization that the executive board possessed and they taught me the importance of proper communication with other leaders (I’ll talk more about the TOA and STOA in future blogs). Today, I would like to blog about the active political student leaders at our schoolIMG_20150128_123000 .

The UIWRSO trustees of AOSA – American Optometric Student Association, Denisse Lopez and Reid Cluff; are not only academically outstanding, but represent our school in Optometry’s Meeting and the AOSA Board of Trustees meeting. They connect RSO students to the other optometry students across the US, Canada and Puerto Rico via the AOSA Board of Trustees. In addition to expanding their network, the trustees also write about their school, for example, Denisse has published multiple articles in the AOSA Foresight magazine. The trustees also meet with industry leaders and hold events at RSO to fundraise and support students. Lastly to update RSO with what AOSA is doing and vice versa, the trustees attend monthly meetings and communicate directly with the RSO Student Government Association and Dean.

AOA-PAC is the American Optometric Association – Political Action Committee.  It is a subdivision of the AOA that focuses in fighting for pro-optometric laws. AOA-PAC does not have a local chapter at RSO. It is solely a national organization that has local liaisons assisting in its outreach programs. To support AOA in its political activism, Duc Tran, UIWRSO Class of 2015 and AOA-PAC Liaison, led a luncheon meeting for students to learn about optometric advocacy, where he discussed details regarding the Congressional Advocacy Conference (CAC) in Washington, DC in April 12 – 14, 2015. Duc attended the CAC meeting last year and shared with us his journey talking to politicians with optometric activists.

I’m glad that I have met such great friends and colleagues at UIWRSO, and the message that I would like to share is that optometry school is not just about your current coursework, but the start to your career and begin building your professional network. Your school’s Student Optometric Association is linked to the State Optometric Association which is connected to the American Optometric Association. By getting involved at school, you can open many doors along the way, just like it has for me!

Helping the Community Through FCO

This past week I was privileged enough to follow our school’s FCO (Fellowship of Christian Optometrists) club while they went to a local church to give full eye exams to those in need. Every few weeks, members of FCO, in addition to many professors, volunteer their time and skills to check the eye health of several members of our community in churches, clubhouses, etc. I want to take you through my journey of what I was able to witness during one of these sessions.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect; the President of our school’s FCO, Melissa Gonzales, told me that the exams were going to take place in a church basement downtown. One of the first things I noticed when I showed up was that she pulled out her equipment from her car trunk, but also pizzas from Little Caesar’s. Once we went into the basement, I saw a few people occupying seats waiting for our arrival. She put the pizzas on a table, and mentioned that the pizza was for the patients waiting. This was the first of many selfless acts I saw by the members of FCO.

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Then we ventured into another series of back rooms to the actual “exam room.” It was nothing like what I expected. I anticipated seeing something like our equipment at school, with private lanes, and brand new equipment. It was small, dark, and full of older equipment. The appearance didn’t fool me though; the students and doctors made full use of this equipment, and in a timely fashion. I followed Melissa with her first patient to a private, quiet area. He was an older man, complaining of not being able to see that well at distance and near. When prompted with how old his current glasses were, he told us 3 years old, that they weren’t even his, and that his last eye exam was in 2005. This shocked me! As students, we encourage patients come in every year for their exam and have up-to-date prescriptions; but recognize that this is not always possible for everyone. This goes to show what a great service these students are providing to people who normally would not get this kind of eye care.

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After doing a quick case history, patients are led back into the other room with the equipment, and the eye exam begins. They get all kinds of services, including getting their eyes dilated, refracted, and examined with the slit lamp. They also get their eye pressures checked. Students from all years get the chance to participate and the professors also helped. Dr. Maki manned the tonometer, which was clearly dated, with ease. Colonel Cleland, a preceptor for UIWRSO’s clinics, oversaw the whole operation, helping out wherever needed. The patients also have access to glasses, and the church pays for the cost of the glasses and lenses. They even get to pick from a small assortment of glasses, so it’s not just a one pair for everyone.

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The best part of the whole experience, as I am sure it is for the volunteers also, is hearing how grateful and happy the patients are when they leave. One man left and said, “I really appreciate what you all did for me; thank you so much.” You could tell he was genuinely thankful for these services. It brought me to tears. Sometimes the patients had to wait for a station to open for a while, but none of them complained. They were all very cooperative and helped things run smoothly.

I am really proud to come from a school where students help those who are less fortunate. Not only are these students getting great experience using a wide variety of equipment, but they are also helping their communities. Ms. Gonzales told me that “The only thing I would want people to know about FCO is that we serve people to show Christ’s love. The Lord has blessed us with the opportunity to be in school and learn these skills and we only want to give back to others what The Lord has given us.”

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