How Did We Get Here?

The application process for optometry school is a long and overwhelming endeavor. I began thinking about a career in optometry junior year in high school. I knew there was an entrance exam and an application, and that was the extent of my knowledge about the application process.

Recognizing that the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) was science-based, I chose to pursue a degree in biology entering college. I was involved in my school’s pre-health organization and one of my favorite events that was held was an annual preview day one of the local medical schools would host. It included application tips, a student panel, a tour of the facilities, and my favorite part: the mock interview. One of the most important opportunities for you to stand out as an applicant is your interview. Yes, your personal statement gets your foot in the door, but your interview is where you bust the door wide open.

TIP #1: Do as many mock interviews as you can

The amazing thing about mock interviews is it is a low-pressure interview. You can get the nerves out early and become familiar with the kinds of things you will get asked. In total I did about four mock interviews, and I learned so much through each one. Each interview was a completely different style; I have done mock individual, partners, and group interviews. The group interviews were the most interesting because you were able to listen in to what other people had to say about certain topics. I was asked personal questions, light-hearted questions, and even presented with ethical cases in which I had to state what action I would take.

Not to worry, I am here to assure you that the interview at UIWRSO is different, and even enjoyable. The interviewer wants to get to know you and answer any questions to help you determine if this program is a good fit for you. It is more of a conversation than a high pressure question and answer setting. Your visit to UIWRSO is more about you assessing the program for fit, and has been constructed to introduce you to the culture. The interview itself is one-on-one with a faculty member and is closed file.  The faculty  interviewing committee consists of current professors who you will encounter throughout your career at UIWRSO.

TIP #2: Make a timeline

Since elementary, I have always carried my trusty planner detailing my schedule, events, and to-do list. That being said, I know not everyone has to write down their day-to-day schedule; however, you should have a timeline outlining your plan of action for the years leading up to optometry school. There are many resources that share a detailed outline of what should be done and when. I had Pinterest boards full of helpful timelines to keep me on track towards optometry school.

Everyone’s journey to optometry school is different. Some take gap months, years, or graduate early. Modify your timeline to whichever way fits your path.

TIP #3: Shadow different optometrists

It’s great to shadow your local optometrist, whom you’ve been going to since elementary school, but I encourage you to span out and reach out to different optometrists and shadow as many as you can. Shadow optometrists in different settings: private practices, retail optometry, group practices, M.D./O.D. practice, etc. There is so much variability in each patient exam and each optometrist practices to his/her specific method; being able to take in as much expertise from each one of them will definitely give you more knowledge coming in. Also, let’s not forget you will be needing a letter of recommendation from an optometrist so it wouldn’t hurt to mingle with a couple and get their support. Even if you don’t ask for a letter from them, it is nice to have someone who has been through optometry school rooting for you.

Good luck and happy planning!

Class of 2022 beginning their journey to becoming O.Ds.

Hi, Nice To Meet Me

Second year students attend a school vision screening

“Hi, it was nice to meet me,” says my dad jokingly in his thick Spanish accent every time he is introduced to someone. My dad: the reason why I was surrounded by medicine growing up. My father studied medicine in Mexico and moved to the US as a newlywed to complete his residency. My mom did not know any English, and my father was barely conversant. Imagine the shock of getting married and moving to a new country to start a family while learning a new language! I am forever astonished by my parents and what they accomplished. I am the youngest of three; I was born and raised in Laredo, TX, a border town with a population of around 250,000. Some of my best memories are of racing my siblings down the long hospital hallways on roller chairs while we waited for my dad to get off work, here sparked my interest in medicine.

I had been to the optometrist several times but never thought twice about a career in optometry. Early on, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in medicine, I just did not know what kind.

Fast forward to high school. I attended a public high school that offered a Magnet program for health science, meaning we took extra health-related courses in order to jump-start our career in medicine. Junior year was the year everyone looked forward to; it was the year you had a clinical rotation class where you shadowed different clinics and practices in order to find the career that fit you.

After rotating through several clinics, I panicked when anyone asked me which one I liked the best. “To be honest, none,” I replied, as none of the options really appealed to me. Halfway through the year, and I still had not found the career for me. It was not until I rotated through my very last office which was the optometrist’s. Needless to say, something clicked that day.

I set out for college with my eyes on optometry and the Optometry Admission Test (OAT). I studied Biology at Oral Roberts University and midway through my senior year, accepted my seat in the University of the Incarnate Word Rosenberg School of Optometry (UIWRSO) class of 2022.

I am now a month into my second year at UIWRSO and look back with appreciation for my family and for all the guidance I have had in my life that resulted in me being here today.

If you were to ask me what the best decision I have made (thus far), choosing optometry and UIWRSO would arguably be my top answer. Why? Keep following this blog and as the weeks unfold the answer will become obvious. I am grateful for this opportunity to share my story on this blog and continue to share my experiences at UIWRSO.

As my dad says, “It was nice to meet me!”