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"1 or 2?" Developing Clinical Skills at ICO

This past month, we got introduced to the skill of refraction, a big component of an optometrist’s job! I was extremely excited to learn this skill, but in all honesty, once I was presented with the instructions, I felt terrified. Slowly but surely, I was able to pick it up. I am now working towards perfecting the skill. Today, I’ll share how I got used to the phoropter and some words of wisdom you can use as a beginner refractionist!


First, try not to get scared like I did when you’re initially presented with all the steps to refraction. All the knobs and lenses on the phoropter can be daunting, at first. When it comes to learning something hands-on like this, I recommend having someone demonstrate the skill, trying it yourself, then going back through the written steps. This technique was originally recommended to me by an upper-year student and it worked great!


Second, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The lab instructors and TAs at ICO are very easy to approach when it comes to getting directions with clinical skills. Remember that they were once in your shoes experiencing the exact same thing. Feel free to ask them any questions, even if you think it might be silly.


Lastly, I cannot stress enough the importance of practice. Once you have the flow of the steps down, it's imperative to practice with peers and colleagues until you feel comfortable. The Eye Pod that is available to ICO students makes it very easy to get into the lab and practice at the end of the day when classes are done. Once I got a grasp of the steps, I decided to go in and practice with a variety of students that were further along in the program. They were each able to share unique tips and tricks that had previously helped them grasp the skill.


While we’re on the topic of clinical skills, I know many of you incoming students are in a position where you’re selecting between different optometry schools to attend. I personally believe attending a school that introduces you to clinical skills early in your education is imperative in your journey towards becoming an optometrist. I’m glad I’m getting exposure to all these skills right off the bat in my first year, as compared to some of my peers at other schools who have just scratched the surface.


With all that in mind, you can be assured that ICO will prepare you as a fully qualified optometrist and most importantly, a confident clinician.



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3241 S. Michigan Ave.

Chicago, IL 60616

312-949-7409

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