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  • Writer's pictureLFaits

The Beginning of Boards: A Letter to Friends and Family

The other day, I was walking on the treadmill at the school Fitness Center when I looked over at the first year walking next to me. She was studying Ocular Anatomy, which brought me back to when I was first learning it. I could hardly believe that it has been over two years since I first learned that. I remember feeling overwhelmed with the packet of information that we received. How could we learn all of this in just one quarter?

However, I had actually just gone through all of Dr. T’s ocular anatomy notes over the past weekend. While the information still seems like a lot, it was much more bearable and not as overwhelming. Now you may be wondering, why is she studying first year material? The answer is simple but scary: Boards are here.

Boards (more formally called NBEO Part I, II, and III) are the exams that we must take in order to officially become licensed doctors. The first part is usually taken in March, and then the second and third parts are taken during fourth year.

To prepare for Boards, some people may just study all of their old notes. The majority of us sign up for a class called KMK. KMK is supposed to make sure we know all the bigger pictures of all the classes we took. It is not supposed to take the place of our previous classes and notes; it is just another tool to study. This is why I was looking at Dr. T’s notes. If you have ever taken a course by Dr. T, you will know that her notes are part text, part coloring book. KMK only has a select few pictures. How am I supposed to review pathways of blood vessels and nerves by just a definition? Thankfully, Dr. T gave us the “mother-load” of Ocular Anatomy photos.

There is A LOT of information. We have to review over three years of material. We third years currently have three clinic shifts, 22.0 credit hours, weekly exams to study for, and on top of it, we have to study for boards. I’ve already mentioned studying old notes AND reading the KMK book, but we also have access to KMK mini-lectures of each subject. Our professors have review nights after regular classes, and in January, we have on-site KMK lectures all weekend for two weekends. This is all before finals in February. It is safe to assume that the majority of us are still struggling to find a balance for everything.

While I may not have answered all the questions you have about NBEO, KMK, and how we third years are studying, you have to understand that we are still figuring out the best approach to find time for everything. Therefore, if you are a friend or family member of a third year optometrist, just remember to give us a break if we seem scatterbrained, forget to call back, or go off the grid for a few days. Chances are, we are deep into the books and have forgotten that other people have normal lives. We will be back to normal and ready to celebrate after the third week of March. So, until then, have fun for all of us!


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