Working at a Private Practice in Optometry School
As I begin my first rotation as a fourth-year outside of the Illinois Eye Institute, it has become very clear that there are many different methods of practice in the field of optometry.
Something that I am thankful for is that I was able to work in a private practice outside of ICO and the IEI and begin to get an idea of these differences before my fourth year. Some doctors practice at different paces, some are more particular about verbiage and charting, and many use different terms and techniques depending on where they were trained. Without having stepped outside of the IEI already, I would have been in for a harder adjustment when entering my externship rotations.
This is why I recommend trying to shadow or work at a practice or optometry clinic outside of the IEI while you are in school. Not only are you able to gain a better understanding of the business and insurance aspects of medicine, you are also given a glimpse into what your rotations outside of the school may entail.
For example, at the IEI, we do not use paper charts. While working outside of the IEI during my time at school, I had a few cases where paper charts were needed due to power outages or Internet failures. It may seem simple, but assessments and plans can be a bit more difficult when using paper charts as opposed to the EHR systems that will already pull up codes for you and give you a greater selection to choose from. In my first rotation, I have had to use paper charting a lot before receiving access to the military computers. Had I not worked outside of the IEI, I would be a lot less familiar with this method.
Overall, I encourage currently optometry students to step outside their school bubble and get an idea of how optometry works outside of academia. It will sure come in handy when you head off to your externship rotations!