Clinical Internship at UIWRSO

As my third year comes to an end, I get a chance to look back and think about how great my clinical internship at UIWRSO was. During your first and second years, you are so busy trying to do well in your classes and sharpen your skills to prepare for clinic. Once you are there, however, everything changes! You rely on your skills that you have practiced countless of hours on, but you learn the most once you are giving examinations to real patients and interacting with your preceptors.

To be completely honest, your first day of clinical internship is so scary. You go through a few days of training and orientation before you actually begin, but it’s a lot of vague information just so you have a foundation to what you need to do once you start. They give you tips on how to use the EMR (electronic medical record), the dos and don’ts in the clinic, and also how to use some of the equipment that you only used a few times before (OCT, Visual Field, etc.).

The night before we started I could barely sleep; I was so anxious! At the moment, our school has two different schedules for third years: you either have Monday and Thursday clinic, or Tuesday and Wednesday clinic, seeing about 5 patients a week with 2 hours of optical experience. We started school (the summer semester) and clinic on the same day! Talk about rough! We also have different locations we go to, either at our school at the Datapoint Eye Clinic, or our two other locations, Bowden Eye Clinic and another clinic on the West side of town. I was happy that I was at the Datapoint clinic, which I was the most familiar with at the time.

At 9:30 am, I showed up to the area where we (my clinic mates and I) were to set up. My hands were shaking so vigorously as I pulled out the equipment I needed from my kit. I am generally not so nervous unless it is time for a proficiency or something of that nature, so you can probably imagine the type of stress this felt like to me! We logged into the EMR and saw that a few patients were ready. For the first day of clinic, the preceptors allow you to work in a pair, so it’s not as intimidating. Two hours are allowed for each patient’s exam, which you definitely need for the first few weeks in clinic. My partner and I walked into the waiting room, picked up the paper with our patient’s name on it and I started thinking, “What if I pronounce their name wrong? What if they don’t like me?” I called out the patient’s name, and luckily a smile ran across their face as they followed us into the exam room.

I honestly can’t remember much about my first patient encounter, other than he was a very nice, older gentleman who was extremely patient with us. We had had some training on ICD9 codes (what you need to bill their insurance), but it was so new to us and nerve wrecking with the patient in the room that I am surprised we had finished everything within two hours! You are not used to using all of your skills in one sitting, and checking in with preceptors frequently, either, so it was a fast-learning environment.

A few weeks in, and it became routine like the back of my hand. Just like with anything, practice makes perfect. The amount of information you receive and pick up from your preceptors, your clinic mates, and even your patients is incredible during the 11 months you are in clinic at UIWRSO. Even though I am about to leave to fourth year externships, I feel like I have even more to learn from outside preceptors and locations. I am so grateful for the experiences and knowledge I have learned over this past year, and the feeling that I will be happy doing this for the rest of my life overjoys me!

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Making our Private Practice Knowledge “Sharp”

One of the great things about UIWRSO is that professors are very involved in the multiple clubs we have at school. They are able to come in and give talks about their personal practices, experiences, or advice for future optometrists. One of the prominent clubs at UIWRSO is our Private Practice Club (PPC). PPC brings in professionals who share their experiences with students on opening practices, what works and what doesn’t. Additional guidance can be found in special events like “Dining with the Doctors” where students have the opportunity to eat at a restaurant with a professor from our school and “pick their brain.” Fortunately, one of our professors, Dr. Richard Sharp, was able to speak to the students of UIWRSO about his private practice, Sharp Eye Consultants, P.A. Dr. Sharp teaches “Diagnosing and Management of Glaucoma” at UIWRSO, and also hosts an externship for fourth year students (which I will be attending—stay tuned for details!).

Sharp Consultants, P.A. is a practice that focuses on those who have ocular or systemic diseases and providing care for those patients. Many patients are those who are referred by their primary care physicians for this specialized care. The practice has an optical to provide these services to patients, as well. Three doctors manage the practice, including Dr. Sharp, Dr. Eddy Contreras, and Dr. Steven Campbell, who are all optometric glaucoma specialists. As I mentioned previously, RSO fourth years have an opportunity to work alongside these skilled doctors during their externships.

Dr. Sharp visited with the students of RSO of how his private practice came to be. He first started talking about when and where it was created and what kind of income the practice generates. Dr. Sharp mentioned that one source of income is a “capitated contract,” which I had no idea what that was. As he put it, you get paid to “take care of a patient month by month” instead of charging per visit. As he explained it more and more, it definitely gave us a better idea about the options available to us once we have our own practices. He also talked about the issues he had opening a practice and what to watch out for. This is the kind of advice you can only get from someone who has experienced set backs; I was very interested in this part because we can avoid these mistakes in the future. He then went on to explain what a day is typically like in his practice: who they see each day, what kind of patients, as well as the billing that comes along with it. Dr. Sharp also offered some tips for us, as future doctors, on how to impress your patients such as taking the extra five minutes to explain their disease because they will appreciate it and come back to your practice. I hope you enjoy a glimpse of his presentation:

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At RSO, we are lucky to have professors who can give us the “keys to success.” I love the fact that our faculty is close to the students and they help us to learn from their mistakes and triumphs. Even though it might be quite sometime before I open my own practice, I will take what I learned from Dr. Sharp’s presentation and apply it when the time comes.

To learn more about Dr. Sharp’s practice, please visit:

http://sharpeyeconsultants.com

Reflections of a First Year Student

Applying and being admitted to optometry school had always been a dream and when I first read the admission acceptance letter, I was overwhelmingly happy, and felt so proud of myself. I made it! I got accepted into my top choice school. Thinking back, that moment was probably the most joyful moment I have ever had. Of course I was excited, but then I started wondering what it would be like in San Antonio, how I could survive in a professional school knowing that it is very challenging and demanding, and how my life had turned to a whole new chapter. With those thoughts in my mind, my feelings of excitement turned to nervousness as I prepared to enter into UIWRSO.
I sit here now thinking how first semester has passed so quickly, though as I reflect on the last few months, I realize one of the more memorable aspects of the first semester was probably orientation. After first arriving, I got to meet the staff and faculty, as well as my future classmates, learn about the history of the school, tour the facility, and many more activities.  Honestly, everything felt pretty overwhelming at first, but the atmosphere the staff and faculty here at UIWRSO created for us was very welcoming and caring, which I greatly appreciated.
If I were asked how would I describe my first day of class?   My answer would be easy, “Constantly getting lost.” I am a first year, after all. This got better throughout the week (and semester), thanks to my classmates who are a lot better at directions than I am. One thing I absolutely love about RSO is how friendly and helpful the people here are. From staff, to faculty, to my classmates, everyone is so nice and is eager to know you and willing to help you to the best of their ability. Throughout the semester, I have found that we all are very supportive of each other and this helps to motivates me to try harder and do my best.  The anxiousness I experienced when I started the program have been replaced by feelings of comfort and reassurance knowing that the faculty, staff, and most importantly my classmates are all very supportive and want to see me succeed.
My experience at RSO has been good so far and I am looking forward to the professional growth along with the memories I will create in the upcoming years.

First RSO student appointed a National Liaison Position with AOSA

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I applied to be a national liaison (NL) because I wanted to be more involved with the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA). A national liaison represents an allied association within the AOSA, much like how the American Optometric Association (AOA) has members for their allied optometric association. An allied association may focus on a specialty like sports vision, InfantSEE program, optometry in public health, etc.

It was an exciting moment when I got the email from the AOSA President 2015-6, Hunter Chapman, saying that I was selected for the student national liaison for the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). In fact, I was the first person from RSO to be selected for a NL position. This year only 15 students were selected from the nationwide optometry student applicant pool to be liaisons of: ASCO, AAO, APHA, NBEO, COVD, OEP, CLS, and etc. Read more about NLs and their respective allied organizations here: http://www.theaosa.org/about/2015-16-allied-associations-and-national-liaisons/

I would also like to talk about the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). Prior to my position, I had no idea that this organization was in charge of the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) among other things. ASCO  is the academic leadership organization committed to promoting, advancing and achieving excellence in optometric education. ASCO represents all accredited schools and colleges of optometry in the fifty states and Puerto Rico. ASCO’s affiliate members include the Canadian schools of optometry, other foreign schools, allied organizations, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. ASCO’s activities also cover a wide range of programs including applicant development and diversity, faculty and executive development, advocacy, residency promotion, data development and communications. Since joining in on ASCO’s meeting, I have discovered how broad optometry education really is. Please read more about ASCO 0n their website: http://www.opted.org/

RSO gives a 1 week break in the summer so that students can go to Optometry’s Meeting. This year Optometry’s Meeting took place in Seattle, Washington. I knew that our school has always supported RSO students who engaged in extracurricular activities. However, our Dean, Dr. Wingert, also actively partakes in leadership roles. It was no surprise that he was the current chair of the ASCO Student Affairs Committee. The members of ASCO include the optometry school Deans and Presidents, who meet a few times a year via phone conference call, emails, and/or in person at big meetings such as Optometry’s Meeting to discuss the long list of ASCO activities listed above. Deans can also run for leadership positions within the different committees in ASCO. During this meeting each committee leader would present their updates and progress of their group. I had the honor to present to all the Deans about AOSA. I won’t lie, it was nerve racking. However after the presentation I received warm comments from Dr. Wingert (RSO Dean) and Dr. Buzzelli (Past RSO Dean, Current Dean of the University of Pikeville, College of Optometry).

Deans convene in ASCO meeting!
Deans convene in ASCO meeting!

 

I would also like to congratulate Mr. Marty Wall, MPA, CAE and ASCO outgoing-Executive Director for his many years of service. It was a pleasure to meet such a wonderful person and great leader.

A luncheon was held in honor of Mr. Wall's service to ASCO and the field of optometry!
A luncheon was held in honor of Mr. Wall’s service to ASCO and the field of optometry at OM15!

 

Big Sib/Lil Sib Program

Starting a new school can be a scary situation, especially when it’s at the caliber of a program like the one at UIWRSO, but have no fear! The staff in Student Affairs office makes the transition into optometry school much easier by having the “Big Sib/Lil Sib Program.” Before entering UIWRSO, you are asked if you would like to participate in this voluntary program. It allows you to have a closer connection to a student already in the program, such as a second or third year. Students are asked to fill out a form with information such as their hometown, undergrad university, hobbies, optometry interests, etc. Student Affairs takes the time to pair you up with someone who has similar traits as you.

I would like to introduce you to my Big Sib, Michelle Serrano. I was paired up with my Big Sib based on our undergrad university. We both attended the University of Texas at El Paso. It’s an interesting coincidence because I even remember having her for one of my chemistry labs previously, but we never interacted then. After the first time we spoke, I knew right away that we would be great friends and that she would be an invaluable asset to me. She has helped me in so many ways, from helping me develop my skills in lab and tips on test-taking and professors, to just hanging out and talking about things outside of school. It’s great to have the perspective of a student who has already experienced the things you are going through. There are going to be a lot of tough days, but it’s comforting knowing you have your Big Sib there to guide you. Once you become a second year, you have the privilege of becoming a Big Sib, if you wish to participate.

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I asked several students about their Big Sib/Lil Sib experiences and this is what they had to say:

“I’m glad that RSO has this program. I knew absolutely no one in San Antonio, and it felt good to know that before I even started school, I had a friend.”

“Second year is particularly difficult, and I can’t begin to tell you how much of an asset my big sibling has been in pushing me and helping me through the year.”

“I love my little sibling! They [Student Affairs] did a great job in pairing us up.”

“A lot of people think the Big Sibs are the only ones that help. It works both ways. We really depend on each other. When she had boards, I was there for her. When I had my final proficiency, she was there for me. We definitely lean on each other for support.”

In addition to giving students an opportunity to find new friends, the Big Sib/Lil Sib program is great in bridging the gap between classes from different years. I really enjoy seeing first, second, third, and even fourth years hanging out at all the school activities and outside of school, also. The program allows us to break the ice even before school starts! I love the program and definitely plan on continuing the tradition of helping new students as they make their journey through UIWRSO.