Overcoming Adversity

Throughout my undergraduate career, I had always been an A/B grade student, described as an overachiever, and truly dedicated to my course work. I was anticipating the transition of class work and tests from undergraduate to optometry school to be difficult, but nothing could have prepared me enough for my first set of graduate school exams. At UIWRSO, during my first semester, we had a total of three exam weeks, with each week consisting of four days of nothing but exams and afternoon labs. Essentially, it was like having undergraduate final exam week three times a semester.

The stress that built up during my first test week really affected my performance on them and overall course outcome. Now, since completing my first year of optometry school I realized how important it is to stay calm during exams. Each person will achieve that calmness in a different way, and I hope you to find which method works best for you.

My first words of advice: “Never be afraid to ask for help”. At UIWRSO, upperclassmen who excelled in a previous course can become tutors. I highly encourage anyone struggling to sign up for a tutor in that course. And the best part: it is completely complementary! Tutors can provide you with practice problems and help you work through topics which are unclear. Many students in my class have tutors and you shouldn’t be ashamed to have one as well.

Another recommendation: On test days, arrive early, and arrive prepared! It seems like an easy concept but you want to avoid mishaps at all costs, especially during test weeks. Make sure to get a good night’s rest. It has been proven that “pulling an all-nighter” can have serious negative effects on an individual’s exam taking ability. Have your electronic device charged with the exam file pre-downloaded, bring a pencil, pen, and calculator, and for good measures, don’t forget your favorite lucky charm.

After you finish your test, you will notice many of your classmates aggregating outside the lecture hall discussing their grades, and/or difficult questions. I personally chose to avoid those conversations. Usually I had my next exam in 24 hours and needed to focus on reviewing that course material more than worrying about that one question I might have missed on the exam I just completed. Once exam week has ended, the professors will post exam grades on Blackboard and if you did not do as well as you thought, I urge you to make an appointment to meet with that professor and go over the questions you missed, to make sure it doesn’t happen again on the cumulative final exam.

My final word of advice: Don’t give up! I personally sometimes felt defeated after an exam week, but I reminded myself that I DO know this stuff and so will you. You have sat through numerous lectures, studied countless hours, and it is now your time to shine. If you don’t do as well as you thought during test week 1, then test week 2 is the time to prove to yourself that you can do better and do exactly that. In optometry school, you are not completing against anyone else, except yourself. So, on the first day of school, put your best foot forward and don’t let that foot ever fall behind.

Janelle Sventek

Janelle is a second year student attending UIWRSO, working as a blog writer to share personal experiences about her time in optometry school.

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UIWRSO at San Antonio Health Expo

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RSO’s BIGGEST summer event is the Health & Wellness Expo in San Antonio.  The Health Expo was held on Saturday, June 6, 2015 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.  Our participation in the event is another great example of the UIWRSO commitment to the program’s mission.  While volunteering at this event, my classmates and I had a chance to provide complimentary vision screenings as part of a comprehensive wellness conference event.  This initiative is also a reflection of our extensive patient contact both inside and outside the clinics.

Additionally, this year, I was asked by the clinic directors to help recruit student volunteers for this huge Health Expo. No surprise, there were a lot of students who went and they all received a cool t-shirt for their help! It was also a great chance for interns to meet other health groups in the area and learn about their field. The Rosenberg School of Optometry booth was super busy where students were giving away swag bags for the attendees. Overall, everyone had a blast!

During the afternoon session, special guest Dr. Phil, talked about making the city a healthier place.

Below is a testimony from our very own professor, Dr. Rabin:

I spent a few hours at the 2nd Annual Health and Wellness EXPO today where UIWRSO made a huge presence thanks to the oversight of Dr. Chapman and Mr. Kruse, multiple invaluable staff and MANY Intern Volunteers…

Dr. Rabin also took some pictures and would like to share them.

 

 

What is Interprofessional Education?

 

Last year when I volunteered at the Catholic Charities Wellness and Resource Fair, I met a lot of friendly UIW students from the other professional schools, but a pharmacy professor, Dr. Cynthia Nguyen, taught me something that has stuck with me ever since. Dr. Nguyen told me about Interprofessional Education and how it can change the face of healthcare for the better. The World Health Organization describes Interprofessional Education (IPE) as when students from two or more professions learn about, from and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes. Efficient team work implies shared decision making and responsibilities, consensus on the ethical principles, constructive conflict management, and reflection of the role of each member within the team (Narayanan). Only recently have I learned that the UIW Rosenberg School of Optometry is one of only a handful of optometry programs that integrate IPE into the academic and clinical experience.

In addition to optometry, UIW has multiple health professional programs such as pharmacy, physical therapy (PT), and nursing. Each program has a solid curriculum, however the programs rarely interact. This is definitely changing. Dr. Cynthia Nguyen joined the Feik School of Pharmacy as the Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice (IPECP) Coordinator and Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice. She is currently working with other health disciplines at the University of the Incarnate Word to enhance an Interprofessional Education model and clinical site that allows students an opportunity to be a part of a patient-centered, multidisciplinary healthcare team. 

From left to right: Nicole Ghitea, Calvin Sanchez, Alissa Davenport, and Susan Ly.
From left to right: Nicole Ghitea, Calvin Sanchez, Alissa Davenport, and Susan Ly.

I too, believe that integrated professional education can lead to better integrated care and ultimately a better patient experience. So I volunteered to join the IPE group in the fall of 2014 and that has been one of my best experiences at UIW! The IPE group of 60 or so students would meet weekly on Wednesday at the Bowden Eye and Vision Care Clinic. Every IPE morning, the faculty would place 4-5 students from Pharmacy, Optometry, Physical Therapy, and Nursing into a team. Among our team, we would have a team meeting on communication and the plan for our upcoming patients. In addition to meeting with our IPE teams, the faculty would prepare lectures. The topics of the lectures and meetings were about how IPE works in caring for chronic illnesses, such as diabetes. Currently, type 2 diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States, affecting 29.1 million people (9.3% of the population). The prevalence of diabetes is expected to continue to rise in American adults, dubbing it as the pandemic of the 21st century. Because diabetes is a chronic condition, having a team of providers as opposed to one provider can greatly improve health outcomes and compliance.

We were assigned one patient per team. Each team traveled together so I was able to see what the other professionals did in an exam. What was once a big mystery is now clear to me. Everyone was awed by my eye exam because they did not know why the optometrist do what they did. Throughout the morning we explained to the patient and each other the importance of our procedures in monitoring diabetes. It was such a great learning experience. I especially like to listen to how the other professional students spoke with the patient, the questions that they ask, and the language that was used; I reflected on how I could reword my questions during case histories for a better patient experience.

The IPE program is generating much interest at UIW.  Students from the different health professional schools are currently working on a constitution to form an interprofessional student group with a mission to optimize health care. Calvin Sanchez, a second year pharmacy student at UIW, invited two nursing students Nicole Ghitea and Alissa Davenport, and myself to the first interprofessional executive board meeting. Since then Danielle Kimbrough, a Physical Therapy student, has joined and we have communicated via email and met on Google hangouts to talk about the plans for this student group. This is all very exciting and I’m glad that I had the opportunity at UIW to meet such amazing people! One of our plans was to meet at a restaurant for a meet and greet! Over 20 students and faculty came out to the mixer in the seafood resturant, Ceviche 210. I enjoyed a delicious fish taco and enjoyed a pleasant afternoon with my new UIW friends!

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References

Narayanan, Srihari, Timothy Wingert, and Patricia Sanchez-Diaz. “Interprofessional Education Challenges With Implementation In An Optometric Curriculum.” Interprofessional Education Challenges With Implementation In An Optometric Curriculum. American Academy of Optometry, 2012. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.

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!

Politically Involved as an Optometry Student

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Left to Right: Duc Tran, Denisse Lopez, Reid Cluff, and Dr. Narayanan.

As an optometry student, I admired how the InfantSEE®/Optometry Cares program was established by optometrists lobbying and networking with U.S. politicians.  InfantSEE is just one of the many feats that the AOA – American Optometric Association have made possible to the public and demonstrated support for optometrists. In hopes of becoming a part of the legislative activity, I became an officer of the Student Texas Optometric Association (STOA).  It was my goal to take an active role in the political association that opens doors for optometrists as well as improves the visual welfare of the people. At the Texas Optometric Association (TOA) board meetings, I was very impressed by the leadership and organization that the executive board possessed and they taught me the importance of proper communication with other leaders (I’ll talk more about the TOA and STOA in future blogs). Today, I would like to blog about the active political student leaders at our schoolIMG_20150128_123000 .

The UIWRSO trustees of AOSA – American Optometric Student Association, Denisse Lopez and Reid Cluff; are not only academically outstanding, but represent our school in Optometry’s Meeting and the AOSA Board of Trustees meeting. They connect RSO students to the other optometry students across the US, Canada and Puerto Rico via the AOSA Board of Trustees. In addition to expanding their network, the trustees also write about their school, for example, Denisse has published multiple articles in the AOSA Foresight magazine. The trustees also meet with industry leaders and hold events at RSO to fundraise and support students. Lastly to update RSO with what AOSA is doing and vice versa, the trustees attend monthly meetings and communicate directly with the RSO Student Government Association and Dean.

AOA-PAC is the American Optometric Association – Political Action Committee.  It is a subdivision of the AOA that focuses in fighting for pro-optometric laws. AOA-PAC does not have a local chapter at RSO. It is solely a national organization that has local liaisons assisting in its outreach programs. To support AOA in its political activism, Duc Tran, UIWRSO Class of 2015 and AOA-PAC Liaison, led a luncheon meeting for students to learn about optometric advocacy, where he discussed details regarding the Congressional Advocacy Conference (CAC) in Washington, DC in April 12 – 14, 2015. Duc attended the CAC meeting last year and shared with us his journey talking to politicians with optometric activists.

I’m glad that I have met such great friends and colleagues at UIWRSO, and the message that I would like to share is that optometry school is not just about your current coursework, but the start to your career and begin building your professional network. Your school’s Student Optometric Association is linked to the State Optometric Association which is connected to the American Optometric Association. By getting involved at school, you can open many doors along the way, just like it has for me!