Fourth Year Begins!

My optometry school career is coming to a bittersweet end. I am finally in my fourth year at UIWRSO which means a number of things: going on externships, taking part 2 and 3 of NBEO Boards, and saying goodbye to a lot of friends! You guys have been a part of most of my journey, and I will continue writing this year, so you can see what a fourth year extern experiences!

At UIWRSO, students in their fourth year go on to their externship sites to gain more knowledge in optometry, their skills, and network with many other doctors around the country. At the beginning of third year, you get to “choose” your sites based on your rank in the class. You write down your top choices for sites based on your preferences in site (VA hospitals, contact lens/private practice sites, etc.) and the location around the country. I CE3wanted to go to a VA hospital to gain experience in posterior segment, as well as get a taste for private practice, so I chose both as my top choices, and luckily, I got them! You also get to spend a semester at UIWRSO as a fourth year, continuing your education from your third year clinic rotation.

I was very nervous to start the first rotation. Going from third year clinic, where you get almost 2 hours for an exam, to a VA hospital where you get about 35-40 minutes for a complete exam, was very intimidating at first. I chose a site where I was the only extern there so I could become more independent. Some sites have room for only 1 extern, while others have the capability of having several (sometimes 7 or 8 depending on other schools’ participation). Clinic started around 9:45am at the third year clinic, now I had to be ready to go by 7:30am for my first patient at my new site!

I’m not going to lie; the first few weeks at my rotation were hectic to say the least. I was very intimidated by the amount of patients I saw, my new preceptors, and all the new things I needed to learn at the site. The electronic medical record (EMR) system was very different from RSO’s, but I picked it up quickly. I also had to learn how to cut down on my exam time, which the preceptors helped me with. I also had access to a lot of technology, including OCT and Visual Field testing (which I had in the school clinic), but also new equipment like an anterior segment camera, B-scan, and fundus autofluorescence! It was very exciting to learn about these machines and be able to interpret their scans.

During the externship, you also have other responsibilities as a student. You are required to write about 2 cases that you personally saw at the site. You also have a chance to provide feedback to the externship director about your preceptors at the site. It gives you a chance to let them know what more they could do to enhance your learning experience at the site. Your preceptors also do an evaluation of you, indicating what you are strong in and also some areas of weakness and how to improve. It’s a great learning experience. Even though I’m pretty sensitive when it comes to criticism, everything they wrote was true and I took it to heart. By the end of the semester, I’m glad to say, my preceptors thought I improved 100%. It is a good feeling to know your preceptors want you to do well.

Although I am only finished with my first rotation through my fourth year, I can tell you that I have learned so much more than I thought I ever could. Being in class and learning from a book is one thing, but actually experiencing it and seeing it in a patient, as well as managing it, is another. I have grown leaps and bounds from this first experience, and know I will continue to grow through my next two sites. Stay tuned to hear about those in the near future!

Prepping for Boards Part I

After the hardship that optometry students like to call second year, third year seems great! You now have an opportunity to practice your skills on real-life patients in clinic, have a lot less classes and labs, and just overall have more free time. That is, until studying for Boards Part I rolls around! NBEO Part I Boards is very intimidating for a lot of students. It tests most of the information that you learn during your first three years of optometry school! Even though this can be very daunting, UIWRSO aims to help students to better prepare for boards. Continue reading “Prepping for Boards Part I”

Second Years Get a Grip on Torics

As a second year, I feel as though I have learned so much in the past eight months. One of my favorite classes so far, however, has been our Contact Lens course. This semester, we were privileged enough to have the opportunity to attend a Toric Workshop held by the STAPLE (Soft Toric and Presbyopic Lens Education) Program. This program allows students to fit toric lenses on actual patients. This was actually the first time we were working on other patients, rather than our classmates! The program introduces students to different companies’ lenses and options, including Alcon, Bausch+Lomb, CooperVision, and VISTAKON. We met the sales reps that were either from San Antonio, or a surrounding area. This was very important to me, because if we choose to stay in this area once we graduate, we already have our foot in the door with these beneficial resources.

The program started off with a nice catered dinner, which was great as we had just finished a long day of labs and classes. Patients and participating professors were also invited to the dinner portion. Coordinating the event was Mrs. Ursula Lotzkat, who also introduced a guest speaker, Dr. Sahlu Pal. Dr. Pal gave a very interesting and informative presentation about toric lenses, and provided us an insight into her life. She expressed the importance of providing information about toric lens options to patients, which I found very valuable. As doctors, we to provide an opportunity to help someone see at their very best and be sure to help them to consider all possible options!

After the presentation, the workshop began. All of the second year students were put into groups of three with a doctor to oversee our progress. We were able to fit two lenses on one patient, and then two lenses on another. It gave us the opportunity to work with a real patient, and also see the different kinds of lenses out there. The sales reps really helped us in determining the best fit and powers for the patients. The professors were extremely helpful in making sure we knew what to look for when fitting contact lenses. Patients also seemed to enjoy helping the students.

To be honest, I was very nervous going into this experience. I felt like I was going to be unable to confidently interact with a patient who I had never seen before. However, it came naturally and that just proves to me to trust my natural instincts in helping and also validated the academic experience I am getting at UIWRSO. My patient was happy, I learned so much, and now I am able to say I have already fit patients in toric lenses, a skill I plan to incorporate when I have a practice of my own!

If you would like to find out more about the STAPLE program, check out their website here:

http://www.stapleprogram.com/Home.html

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Tour de Optometry with the ​National COVD’s President Dr. Ida Chung

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The College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) club at UIWRSO hosted the Annual Tour de Optometry and Residency Forum. COVD created the Tour de Optometry to educate and excite optometry students about behavioral and developmental vision and vision therapy. The COVD Board of Directors and some Past Presidents visit each of the schools of optometry, and the attending Board Member works with the COVD Faculty, Resident, and Student Liaisons to coordinate the Tour visit.

This year the ​National COVD’s President Dr. Ida Chung visited RSO on Wednesday March 4th to talk about her practice and how vision therapy (VT) impacted her patients. She was also glad to see her past students who are now teaching vision therapy at RSO. Dr. Maki was a student of Dr. Chung before coming to RSO as a faculty member. Following Dr. Chung, the club held a Residency Q&A with RSO faculty, Drs. Coates, Maki, Tison, and Nicklas. The students asked a lot of questions about how to get more involved with VT after graduation and why the faculty decided to pursue this path in optometry. I had a great time listening to the speakers and enjoyed some zesty Olive Garden at the same time.

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From left to right: Dr. Chung, guest speaker and COVD President, Desirae Brinkley, COVD RSO Student President.
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Student members who wore their shirts for the event!

“How to borrow money for your future optometry practice?” with VisionOne

 

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The first UIWRSO club event of 2015 was hosted by the Private Practice Club. It was also the evening of the first day of school. We hosted Mr. Schultz, President/CEO of VisionONE Credit Union, to come speak to the students about “How to borrow money for your future practice?” The topic was proposed by a student member who wanted to learn more about this subject. The primary reason that we chose this speaker is because of the company’s mission, “To advance independent optometry through innovative financial solutions.” As one of the few financial institution by optometrists for optometrists, the company dedicates attention towards solutions to industry-wide problems. They strive to reduce the road blocks for new optometrists to enter private practice and allow senior doctors a timely, lucrative exit. Vision One Credit Union seeks to bridge the communication gap between practice buyers and sellers through their Financial Educational programs.

The event drew in students from all classes, and our Practice Management professor, Dr. Garcia, who gave great reviews about the speaker, would like to have him come back on a rotating basis. So what did Mr. Schultz talk about? As a businessman who has been featured on the “Review of Optometric Business” Journal, Mr. Schultz did talk a lot about the finances of buying a practice, but the most important concept that I took away was his take on “cash flow” and how to calculate it. For example, if you wanted to buy a practice, “how do you calculate its true value?” Mr. Schultz wanted buyers to have a fair purchase so he provided very detailed and clear visuals to his explanations, and even students without a business background yet were able to grasp the concept. I thought it was such a valuable topic and I learned a lot about evaluating my future practice. Before this event, I did not have a clear concept about where my income was coming from, nor how to calculate it, but Mr. Schultz answered a lot of my questions. He told us that their company is non-profit and their credit union lends money to young practitioners for their start-up or purchase and offers financial counseling along the process. I’m glad our school was able to benefit from one of their free of charge Financial Educational programs.

cashflow table VisionONE

Stay Warm,

 

Susan Ly
UIWRSO Class of 2016
President, Private Practice Club