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As you may have heard, optometry school can be rather costly, especially at a private university. But as the age-old phrase goes, “you get what you pay for”. I believe the value of my education is priceless, and the graduates before me have proven that paying off student loan debt is feasible, given the starting salary of an optometrist. 

But, one way to combat the ever-growing financial debt of optometry is by working as a student. RSO provides many job opportunities to students, which include library desk staff, student affairs office, tutoring, laboratory teaching assistant (TA), and many more. 

I refrained from obtaining a student job until my second semester of optometry school, because I wanted to get a handle on course-load, and figure out the best method of studying for my success. As of the third-year fall semester, I proudly was offered the position of teaching assistant. 

Watching first year students practice Retinoscopy.

Every year, roughly 30% of the third year class is hired to work in after-hour labs, supervising underclassmen, and helping them master their skills before taking their final clinical proficiency. I really honor and respect this position, because I remember how helpful the TA’s were when I was just learning a new skill in the beginning of my optometry coursework. 

Watching second year students practice Goldmann Applanation Tonometry (GAT).

Since starting this position, the most rewarding experience is helping a first- or second-year student who is struggling with a technique and then finding out that they passed the checkout or proficiency for that skill. I believe a vast benefit of being a TA is being reminded of the skills learned years prior and serves as a reminder of the potential uses within the clinic setting. 

Janelle Sventek

Janelle is a fourth year student attending UIWRSO, working as a blog writer to share personal experiences about her time in optometry school.

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Third Year Clinic

Unlike most doctoral professions where you would receive your white coat at matriculation, at RSO you receive your white coat after the completion of your second year. Academically, in your first 2 years, you are building your knowledge and skillset in preparation for you to provide patient care. Each semester of optometry school contains a clinical lab course that teaches you the rudimentary techniques needed to perform an eye exam. At RSO the courses are named: Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced Optometry, in that order. 

In the spring semester of your second year you will take a Clinical Optometry course which reviews everything from Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced. At the end of this course you will take the Final Clinical Proficiency which tests your comprehension, effectiveness, and accuracy of clinical skills. 

Upon passing this proficiency you will have earned your white coat, which is symbolic and essential in your transition to clinical rotations. At RSO, clinic rotations begin summer of third year. Starting clinic can be nerve-racking and exciting, all at the same time. You officially begin to see actual, live, real patients (by yourself) with chief complaints and concerns. I remember my first day of clinic, like it was yesterday – it is such a monumental moment, that I never want to forget. 

When you begin clinic, you will be grouped with three other classmates, and as a group of four you will rotate around the three clinics, we have at RSO. One clinic is at our main campus on Datapoint Drive, the second clinic is on the east side of San Antonio near the AT&T center, and the third clinic is on the west side of San Antonio within a community multi-care clinic. Each location presents a different patient base and unique experience. 

Myself after completing the first day of clinic.

Three things I have learned since starting clinic are: be confident when presenting to your attending doctor, you can never ask too many questions, and even with the hustle and bustle of clinic be sure to treat every patient with the quality of care you would want to be treated with. I full-heartedly believe my first two years at RSO have immensely prepared me for my clinical experience, and I look forward to fourth year where I go out on externship and can show off the skills this great school has provided to me. 

My clinic group-mate, Adaly, and I after completing day two of clinic.


Janelle Sventek

Janelle is a fourth year student attending UIWRSO, working as a blog writer to share personal experiences about her time in optometry school.

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