My First Conference: OM 2019
"If you do what you love, it is the best way to relax." - Christian Louboutin
Last week, I had the privilege of attending Optometry’s Meeting 2019 held in St. Louis, Missouri! I learned so much, and want to share a few highlights from my experience with my fellow ICO students.
Leading up to the meeting, I was honestly really nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. I also couldn't help but wonder how useful attending a conference like this would be for someone so new to optometry school. As soon as we got there, I realized that I had nothing to worry about at all! I was pleasantly surprised by how many activities were student-focused and relevant for my life in optometry school (regardless of my year ranking). Not only that, but there were also thousands of other students in the exact same position as me who were just as eager.
One of the first activities we experienced was the exhibit hall. Within the huge room, it felt like there were thousands of vendors set up. It was somewhat organized chaos; there were thousands of doctors and students from all over the world walking around. There were booths set up for just about everything optometry-related you could imagine. The best part was that the booths were relevant for both students and doctors, from the latest technologies to preparation materials for taking boards. There was even a booth full of puppies from the local humane society! Everyone was highly engaged. There were opportunities to play interactive scavenger hunts that resulted in prizes (wine, frozen custard, candied almonds, slushies), and tons of free swag.
Another highlight early in the week was the AOSA Optometry Student Bowl. It was a blast! Every school dressed up in themed attire and screamed their heads off as they cheered on their school representative in hopes of a victory... and it turned out that ICO brought home the trophy!! (Nora did an amazing job!) The amount of school pride was thrilling. We rushed the stage and lifted the trophy in the air as we chanted and celebrated. It was a great experience that really brought all the ICO students even closer.
From that point on, the activities just continued to get better and better. I attended a networking breakfast where I built connections with doctors from areas that I believe to be relevant to my future. I met a ton of fellow optometry students from other countries and schools. We toured the Anheuser Busch brewery and had a party in the biergarten. We attended educational courses and listened to speakers. Each speaker was so unique! At the end of every single session, I walked away with a new token of knowledge or a new perspective.
I also loved attending the continued education sessions. I was able to see doctors teaching and learning from other doctors. I even saw a few familiar faces who came and spoke to our private practice club at ICO last year! It was really inspiring to know that each of us students has the potential as a future optometrist to make a global impact. We can share our experiences and best practices with fellow doctors from across the nation in this type of impactful setting.
Overall, I think OM did a great job of keeping both the students and doctors entertained (and well fed)! From the nightly parties full of dancing, free food, and drinks to the networking workshops set up to help young doctors build global connections, I was very happy with my experience attending my first ever optometry conference. Can't wait for DC in 2020!!