The first year of optometry school is the ultimate rollercoaster of extreme highs and lows. It is safe to say I have learned many lessons at ICO. Whether it be personal life lessons or how to diagnose the signs and symptoms of a binocular vision problem, I believe I have become an expert on how to survive and manage optometry school. Officially completing first year made me aware that there are certain things necessary for your success as a scholar.
As I began to come up with these various ideas, I realized how much I would have valued them before stepping into my first quarter at ICO. There are many people, places, and things you need to pursue optometry. Here are 10 I believe are necessary in order to keep focus and make your journey a little less hazy.
An appetite for learning- for the rest of your life. The most important thing about being an optometry student is that you are signing up for a lifetime of learning. There is never a time in your career in which you will not have to consistently keep refreshing on the old stuff and discovering the new and improved ways. Not a day goes by, even when you become “Dr.”, that you won’t learn something new.
Glasses. Whether you have 20/20 vision or not, glasses help support the optometric community. After all of the optics we have learned, it is important to know how your vision change with different lenses in front of your eyes. Glasses or lenses can also help gain sympathy and understanding with your patients, even if you yourself have never encountered a vision problem. In order to provide the best eyecare to our patients at the IEI, it’s a good idea to try on an old pair of glasses from the optometry lab or a mock pair with trial lenses. This way, you’ll understand the difference be 20/20 and 20/200, even with your own eyes.
Will power. It always is important to keep yourself focused and motivated. You have to have will power to get through optometry school and make it out on your own. Cut back on things that distract you, like eating too many snacks while you study. Be disciplined with your study habits, and find the strength to study on.
Clinic attire. If you thought you could get away with sweatpants, leggings, and a hoodie, you are mistaken. It is absolutely necessary to dress the part. You can still be you AND be professional- closed toed shoes, white coat, tie, etc. You signed on to be a professional the minute you accepted your admittance to ICO.
Fun. One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received came from my own optometrist as I was saying goodbye on my last day of work. “You never know what could happen, so remember to have a little fun, too.” That was said to me after an unexpected health concern from one of the most healthy doctors around. I try to work something fun in every week in optometry school. Whether it is going out to eat or shopping, make sure you take some time to let your hair down.
A positive attitude. It becomes human nature to get down about missing one question you thought you got 100% on, or missing 20 questions you thought you got 100% on. Try to keep your spirits up as you journey through optometry school. If you stay positive, you can keep your eye on the light at the end of the tunnel.
Trust. You have to trust yourself more than anyone. It is extremely important to trust that you know the material for an upcoming exam, trust that you have practiced enough for an assessment, and trust that you will get through even the darkest of days. You must also trust that you can achieve and do things here at ICO you never imagined yourself doing.
All things optometry. This may be more of an obsession than a necessity, but hey, it definitely makes the list. Anything with glasses or eyes on it is a must- coffee cup, planner, phone case, keychain or shirt! Sometimes, your craving to be an optometrist manifests itself in your backpack, bedroom, or even your car.
A comfy chair. This makes the list because you are constantly sitting, whether it be in the library, napping- I mean listening- in lecture, or studying at home. You need a chair that helps you stay focused enough to absorb all the knowledge you can, but still comfortable enough to keep your back from slouching.
Honesty. This may sound cliché, but you have to be honest. Our early morning discussions with Mothersbaugh are not scheduled for nothing. You must learn to become an honest person now, if you have not already, in order to become the doctor that is in your near future. Taking optometric oath was just the beginning of a lifetime guarantee that you will do everything in your power to serve others in the best way possible. Being honest with yourself, faculty, friends, and colleagues is necessary when not only being an optometry student, but being a doctor to a variety of valuable patients.
There are about a thousand things one needs in order to successfully go through optometry school. These are just some that I found most necessary in the first full year of professional learning. What are some things you feel are vital as a student, willing and eager to pursue optometry?