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.
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.