Giving Back One Vision Screening at a Time

Within my first few months of school it was very easy to notice my classmates and I all had one dream: to help those in need and give back to our community. As a first year student at RSO, I did not expect to be given an opportunity to do such so early in the program. After just 28 days from the beginning of classes, I found myself inside a small dim room at a San Antonio church located in the heart of downtown.

This would mark the day of my first vision screening. I was scared and timid at first but my fellow students (second and third years) reassured me that everything I had been learning in my Basic Optometry course was going to be put to good use that night. As soon as the patients started to arrive, my peers and I were continuously busy. From measuring pupil size to testing visual acuity, as a first year student with only a month of school under my belt, I was able to help so much!

There are many organizations and clubs on campus that provide students with hands on experiences through vision screenings. I highly encourage many of my classmates who still haven’t attended a vision screening to do so ASAP. It is a such a great reminder of why we study and work so hard to do well in the classroom. These vision screenings provide us with a real world application of everything we have been learning from the textbook, and it doesn’t get much better than that!

As an RSO student, we are reminded of UIW’s core values, especially one in particular: service. From the first day of orientation, we were prompted to be mindful of our community and give back as much as possible. As students of community engagement, we complete a service learning project within our curriculum, consisting of at least 16 service hours by the end of our third year. My classmates, as well as myself, truly understand how important these moments are. Not only are we fulfilling the mission of UIW, but we are also improving the lives of so many community members.

Pictured below are first-year students and instructor Dr. Narayanan, who volunteered at the 2016 BAPS Charities Health Fair. Which is a day that provides a wide array of health screenings and blood testing for community members.

 

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You too can fulfill your dreams of giving back to the community through vision screenings within just one month of beginning your career as an optometry student at UIWRSO!

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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The Start of Optometry School

1 out of 70. I am one of seventy students in the UIWRSO class of 2020. When I first got the acceptance letter I couldn’t believe it; it felt like a dream come true. I, like many, have always been asked the age old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. Ever since I was little, I knew I wanted to give back through healthcare, but I was never too sure how I would accomplish it, until May of 2015. After spending an afternoon shadowing our family optometrist I had come to the conclusion; this was the perfect profession for me.

After my application had been submitted and verified, I now had to play the dreaded waiting game. The time spent waiting for an interview invite was far from easy but more than worth it. The interview experience was a great opportunity to show the university what I had to offer, but more importantly helped me determine if the university fit my wants and needs. UIWRSO fulfilled all of my expectations and then some.

Once accepted into the program, I could not wait for the first day of school. It was such a relief knowing where I would be headed after undergraduate graduation. The process of moving across country is not necessarily something you are taught in school. What is a lease? And how would I sign it from miles away? All of these questions and concerns started to build up inside my head. Thank goodness UIWRSO provides admitted students with a relocation service to help with all of these technicalities.

A few months’ passed and it was time to make the move! My parents helped me load up my VW Jetta and we hit the road! 1,300 miles and 19 hours later, we made it to the great city of San Antonio. After a few weeks, my apartment is all set up and I have learned the lay of the land, and it is now the first day of orientation. Oh the emotions I felt; anxious, nervous, apprehensive, but overall excited to start this new chapter of my life.

Like any other alteration in life, it takes time to adjust and get acquainted. Three months have passed since the start of year one of optometry school and I am pleased to announce: I am still alive! It isn’t as bad as you might think, it surely is no cake walk but I keep reminding myself, it will all be worth it one day. When I started school I expected the worse, but the faculty and staff at UIWRSO are so helpful and provide great support that makes day-to-day challenges that much easier.

My decision to apply to optometry school and accept a seat in UIWRSO’s class of 2020 is one of the greatest choices of my life. The friends I have made and the experiences I have had only within a short amount of time, reassures me that there are only more great things to come!

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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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.