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  • Writer's pictureLFaits

4th year optometry externship: 10 great things about it!

Now that we’re down to the last year of optometry school, we’ve started rotations. It’s completely different than years 1,2, and 3. I remember thinking back in first year how lucky the fourth years were not to get that email from Dr. Lesher with the exam schedule. Now, I understand that there is still plenty going on.

Road Trip!!: Of the over 150 externship sites offered by ICO, I chose to do 2 of my rotations in Canada and one in Florida. So, this summer I made the 26-hour drive from my hometown of Winnipeg to beautiful British Columbia.

BC drive 3

These long 8 hour days though: This is totally different than being in school 1st, 2nd and 3rd year. In contrast to student life where you get scheduled 10 minute breaks between 50 minute classes, an hour long lunch break, many “out early” days, and Saturdays and Sundays off, externship life is much more like “real life.” You don’t necessarily have all these luxuries.  During a clinic shift at school, you can see 2-3 patients, whereas during externships, you can expect to see between 8-15 patients per day.

I made it

Becoming Proficient: Seeing so many patients every day has allowed me to improve my history taking skills, understand patients’ complaints better, and develop a working diagnosis of what might be going on before starting any testing. It starts to become second nature, allowing me to select appropriate tests more quickly and improve my efficiency. It’s very nice having the confidence at the beginning of the exam and knowing how to solve the patients’ problems.

From Pre-tester to Pre-tested: One great thing about private practice externship rotations is that many offices have pre-testing staff to do some initial tests on the patients for you. At the site I’m at, they do lensometry, auto-refraction, and tonometry for me. This allows me to get my exam time to within 30 minutes- something I never thought would be possible.

Much more time for fun: Since we are no longer studying for 3 tests and a practical every evening and weekend, I’m finding I have a lot of free time on my hands. This has been awesome! I finally have time to do one of my favourite hobbies, baking.  To counteract the baking, I’ve had enough time to successfully complete the June Hot Yoga Challenge- 25 yoga classes inthe month of June!!

suspension bridge

All the things I’ll have to miss:  Being at IEI in the summer and fall quarters is nice, mostly because the weather in Chicago is at its prime and you can take part 3 early and get it over with. Sadly, I’m missing a lot of events that I enjoy a lot about ICO: The Practice Opportunities Symposium, the Eyeball, MCA candygrams, MCA Night, and 12 Bars. Luckily, I’ll be able to make it to Homecoming and ICOlympics and get a chance to meet the class of 2020!!

National Boards:  It seems most people plan to take part 3 NBEO during their rotation at the IEI.  It’s great to have access to the Eyepod and the assessment rooms to practice, and you also have many other members of your class wanting to practice the same thing. Our KMK part 2 books have recently been mailed to us, so we’ll have plenty of time to study for part 2 NBEO which is this December. And of course, my fellow Canadians will be required to take the 2 Canadian

totem poles

Externship Housing: Working to secure housing at all of my externship sites has turned out to be a harder task than I expected.  I have never been to some of these places, so I don’t know the area, and looking back, this would have been higher on my priority list when choosing sites. One of my rotations is in my hometown Winnipeg, so luckily it wasn’t too hard to find housing there. For my first site, I booked my accommodations through AirBNB and it has been a great experience; I would use it again.

What’s next?: Given the fact that 4th year marks my last year of school EVER, I am forced to consider the next step of the game.  Whether or not to do residency is one of the big decisions. If I decide to find a job, where? With who, vs opening cold? or buying an existing practice? Which cities have potential for a long term stay?

Fourth year is very busy- just as busy as the first 3 years, but in a very different way.  I look forward to returning for my IEI rotation and seeing all of my friends again, and the people at ICO that have made it home during my time there.


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