August 1, 2014
Has it really been almost ONE YEAR since I last blogged? Well, I apologize. In a nutshell…I was in clinic four times a week, I took (and passed!) part 1 of the national boards and I am now finishing up my first fourth year rotation at the VA hospital in West LA.
I LOVE ROTATIONS!
1. I get WEEKENDS. The last time I had a free Saturday was during first year. I’ve been going to the beach, golfing, doing yoga and trying every ramen place and ice cream shop around here. I conveniently live within walking distance from a few friends so hanging out is easy to do.
2. There are so many yoga studios in this area! I recently joined Red Diamond Yoga because they have a deal for $10 for 10 consecutive days of yoga. The classes are MUCH better than the ones at Crunch. If I ever live here again, I’d definitely pay the hefty membership price to take these classes. Unfortunately, I think I pulled a muscle from overexertion but ironically, taking a restorative yoga class has relieved the pain..
3. I’ve become obsessed with grocery shopping. In fact, it has become a hobby. I literally next door to Ralph’s and I am a 10-15 minute walk from TJ’s, Albertsons and Vons. I probably buy more food than I actually eat/cook especially since I eat out quite often.
I’ve been at the VA hospital for 10 weeks and I only have 1.5 weeks left. I think my favorite thing about being here is the weekly farmer’s market on Wednesdays where me and my classmates buy our weekly produce. 8 plums/peaches/apples for $1?! 4 boxes of blueberries for $2?! 3 bunches of asparagus for $1?! We never spend more than $5. It’s seriously exciting to see what deals are offered every week! I need to get my fill of fruits before I head to Japan where a watermelon could cost $50+.
Ok, I guess the farmer’s market is more of an added bonus about being here. I’ll admit that the transition from school to clinic was hard and there was definitely a steep learning curve. Over time, I’ve learned to be more efficient and can now give a full exam with dilation in about 45 minutes (not including check-in time with the attending doctor). About 80% of my patients are African American, 15% Caucasian and 5% Asian/Hispanic. The average age is 60 and almost every patient is a glaucoma suspect. Although diabetes and hypertension are prevalent among this population, I haven’t seen much retinopathy associated with it. I think it’s because these patients have their conditions controlled with medication provided by the VA whereas patients from remote sites such as at a Indian Health Service would have lots of retinopathy because medicine isn’t readily available.
Some memorable cases:
1. Patient farted in my exam room. It was memorable because he left a distinct lingering smell. I sure felt bad for the following patient!
2. Patient fell asleep during the exam. I asked him to look down and he looked down. I ask him to look up and he started snoring. I found out that he was on a medication that causes drowsiness and he wasn’t able to take his afternoon nap.
3. Patient with proptosis (where the eyes bulge out). I attempted to instill dilating drops and his eyeball literally POPPED OUT when I lifted his eyelid. I felt horrible but he said it has happened before and that is when he asked me about surgical options.
4. Patient who arrived on a gurney from the nursing home. I guess they forgot to put him in a wheelchair so I had to use a handheld slit lamp and tonometer to check his eye.
5. Patient with a fixation device around his head/neck because he just had neck surgery after a motorcycle accident. He came in complaining of decreased vision primarily due to cataracts but we couldn’t really give him an exam because the fixation device was in the way. I had to determine his prescription using handheld lenses. We couldn’t even put the trial frame glasses on him because the bar from the fixation device was in the way so I had to hold the lenses in free space!
6. Patient who thought I was done after using the auto-refractor. No examine is 30 seconds long. He was so mad that he left shortly after..
7. Gave an exam to a 94 y/o grouchy patient who turned out to be an old Hollywood actor/director! The exam took a really long time because I had to wait forever for the attending doctor to come. The patient told me to write my name down on a piece of paper and I thought he was going to complain to the VA but it turned out that he really liked me! He even hugged me goodbye and kissed me on the cheek. It was kind of weird but he felt like my grandpa.
8. Patient who was gardening and got manure in his eye..all we know is that it’s not bacterial..who knows what exactly is in manure! Poor guy..I ended up writing my case presentation on this patient.
Anyway, I want to end this brief post with a statement that one veteran said to me. We told him he was lucky that his glasses would be free through the VA. In response, he stated, “No. I am not lucky. I’d rather trade my PTSD any day than have these free glasses.”
Touché, sir. Touché.
That’s all for now! It has truly been an amazing summer and I look forward to what the next rotation brings :)!
August 20, 2013
“Welcome back!” is what I have been hearing for the past two days except I haven’t been gone all summer since I had to take classes and work in the clinic as an intern. I had one amazing week off after the summer quarter but honestly it feels like I didn’t have a break at all. However, I did do a few fun things like taking yoga classes 3-4 times a week and going to the San Diego Zoo. I also went to Optometry’s Meeting in June and hung out a few times with my childhood best friend.
ROTATIONS. I totally forgot to blog about my fourth year external rotation sites! I ended up with:
Summer 2014: VA West LA (Primarily all veterans with ocular disease. I have already seen a few patients at SCCO’s eye clinic who have damaged eyes because of exposure to agent orange used during the Vietnam War. This will be a good first site for me but I am not looking forward to waiting 45 minutes for a staff doctor…)
Fall: ECC (SCCO’s Eye Care Center on campus where I am currently seeing patients at). I plan to take Part III of the National Boards during the Fall quarter because I can practice in our school’s pre-clinic!
Winter: OCLA (Optometric Center of Los Angeles) is SCCO’s external eye center. Apparently most of the patients speak Spanish so I will definitely have to brush up on my Spanish before I go to this site! I took Spanish for three years during high school but honestly I don’t remember most of it. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it!
Spring 2015 (right before I graduate): OKINAWA, JAPAN!
I am stoked to go to Japan! I plan to fly to Tokyo on the way there since there is no direct flight to Okinawa and then I’ll fly to Taiwan on the way back. I will be done with National Boards so I will truly be able to have a good time without worrying about taking any tests. I will be stationed on the naval site so luckily my patients will speak English but I still plan to learn basic Japanese. Another good thing is that (military) housing is free so all I have to pay for is my flight and food! The downside is that fruit is so expensive. :(.
Okay back to reality. Spring 2015 is still so far away.
It’s fall quarter, which means three things: classes, clinic and 5 STATIONS.
5 stations is a 2-hour long practical, which simulates Part III of the National Boards. It is called “5 stations” because there are literally 5 stations: Primary Care (Case history, retinoscopy, refraction), Contact lens fitting and patient education, Contact Lens analysis/Optical (analyzing and fitting glasses), Ocular Health Procedure Skills and finally vision therapy skills. Basically, we will be tested on every skill we have learned in the past 2 years. Wow. I guess this will be beneficial because it prepares us for the National Boards, but at the moment I am dreading it. In fact, I should probably be practicing now. I can’t believe it’s only the 2nd day of school and there’s so much to do.
It’s amazing how I am already a third year. My friend from Berkeley is an incoming first year and she reminded me that I am almost done with school. I don’t really count fourth year as a real school year because we are off on rotations so really this is my last didactic year! After 5 stations I just need to focus on studying for part I of the National Boards (500 multiple choice test taken over two days in March) and then I’ll be off on rotations! I think it’s important that I make the most out of my last year here. 2nd year wasn’t a particularly good year for me both mentally and physically but I believe this year will be much better.
Here’s to the start of finally being at the top of the hierarchy at school! :)
June 4, 2013
WHAT A RELIEF! I am officially halfway done with optometry school. Only one more year of actual lectures/midterms/finals and then I’m off on rotations during my 4th year! The past 3 months were brutal but I somehow survived with the help of my classmates and moral support from my friends and family back home. Our “summer” break lasted only one short week and I am now back in Fullerton for summer classes/clinic as a third year intern. I saw my first “real” patients yesterday and today and I must admit that I am already exhausted. Each shift is supposed to last 4 hours long but this doesn’t include the hours spent prepping for each exam and charting our findings on the computer. I was on campus from 9am – 7pm straight.
For the first half of the summer I will be working in the primary care and vision therapy clinics for a total of 12 hours a week (plus those extra hours I mentioned). Fortunately I get Saturdays off so Neil is going to visit and I will be attending Optometry’s Meeting in San Diego at the end of this month. My aunt and uncle are also visiting during July 4th weekend and I will finally visit my grandma!
Our clinic schedules switch in July. I will still be in primary care but then I will also be working in the contact lens clinic and optical on Saturdays. Yes, back to working on Saturdays :(
I should probably also mention that I am taking 4 classes on top of clinic:
1. Pediatric optometry
2. Vision, perception and learning
3. Practice management II
4. Contact Lenses III
I haven’t put much thought into these classes yet because I’ve been so busy with clinic but hopefully they will be interesting! I’m actually not very interested in working with infants/kids but I will have to eventually so I am trying to stay open-minded :)
We also get to pick our rotations sites for fourth year! I am crossing my fingers for Japan!! :). I’ll blog again once I find out at the end of July.
That’s all for now! I am already learning SO much in clinic. It’s definitely challenging but rewarding. Here’s to a good summer!
March 8, 2013
Hi everyone! It’s time for my quarterly post about optometry school at SCCO. Last month was quite eventful. Finals weren’t that hard but it was difficult to study because of an incident that occurred two days before our first final. You will always be our lifelong friend. R.I.P.
Spring break was extremely relaxing. I slept early every night, ate tons of good food, saw my friends and spent quality time with my family. Luckily, I had a 3-day guest pass to the gym so I was also able to keep in shape :).
The first week of spring quarter just end and I am already overwhelmed. I expected that this would be the hardest quarter in optometry school mainly because the third years warned us of the amount of material we must learn and the hardest skill to master (extended indirect biomicroscopy or “extended BIO”). I just had my Ocular Health Procedures lab today and the doctor told us about our FINAL proficiency because I guess it will laterally take ALL QUARTER (yes, 10 weeks) to master extended BIO along with 2 other important skills. I am prepared to dilate my eyes at least twice a week for the remaining 9 weeks. Although I don’t prefer to have labs on Fridays, I don’t mind having this lab because I can just go home and take a nap or rest as my eyes slowly constrict back to normal without worrying about going to class the next day or studying for a midterm.
Ocular disease is supposedly the hardest class this quarter. I can definitely see why already although this is probably the best “doctor” class I will take in optometry school. I definitely need to keep up with the material but ocular disease and diseases in general are very interesting to me.
Ocular pharmacology is probably the third hardest class because now we have to know trade AND generic names of drugs, doses and everything there is to know about ocular medications. Who knew there were so many?! I DOUBT that I will retain everything I’ll have learned but that is why we have local pharmacists and even a drug manual handy!
I am also taking a vision therapy course and another contact lens course.
Finally, the one thing I am dreading this quarter: CLINIC ON SATURDAYS FROM 8AM-12PM. What does this mean? NO MORE FREE WEEKENDS! On the flip side, I heard that Saturdays are the best days because we get more patients at the Eye Care Center so that means I’ll probably be seeing *real* patients starting tomorrow! I am really trying to stay optimistic about having clinic on Saturdays. In reality, I’ll probably be working every Saturday as an optometrist so I might as well get used to waking at up at 7AM on Saturdays!
Interesting fact: You can use a stethoscope as a temporary hearing aid! Have the person wear the ear pieces and then speak into the diaphragm as you would into a microscope (don’t yell or speak too near the diaphragm) and it will amplify the sound for the hearing-impaired person!
Yes, that was quite a random fact but I was completely mind blown. What a great idea!
That is all for now! I can’t wait until the summer even though I have summer classes/clinic. Time to power through the next 11 weeks and then I’ll finally be a third-year optometry student!!!
January 19, 2013
Hi everyone! Quick update before I head to campus to tutor. This week was absolutely crazy, but I survived! Hard work pays off.
It’s been three weeks since I turned pescetarian and let me just say that I LOVE IT! I haven’t craved meat at all and honestly I am much happier and I feel 10x healthier. Of course there were a few temptations but I’ve resisted. I also eat less now (remember it’s all about portion control)! I really want to continue this diet for as long as possible.
Apparently next quarter will be the hardest quarter out of all the quarters here at SCCO. I think I’m going to quit my job at the contact lens clinic and TA instead. I get paid the same AND I get to brush up on my skills while teaching the first years. I also need more time to practice in the pre-clinic and to STUDY.
I have two midterms and a presentation next week, but I’m not worried. I’m going to take this weekend to catch up on sleep, clean, and hang out with my friends. I’ll start studying tomorrow night :P.
It’s finally getting warm again! Yay!
January 13, 2013
Things I learned from my first “real” patient exam:
Do not trust automated lensometers (instruments that analyze the prescription of glasses).
Don’t forget to test color vision on all new patients.
If a patient comes in wearing contact lenses, then I need assess their “visual acuities” and do as many entrance tests as possible BEFORE the patient takes off their contact lenses. I made a mistake and completely disregarded the fact that my patient wears contact lenses most of the time even though she was getting a prescription for glasses.
It is really hard to do an examination while recording all the data into the computer. I now understand why we have a partner do this.
I need to be professional and keep my workspace clean and organized. I was very nervous and didn’t realize that my equipment was thrown all over the counter.
It’s possible that I’m not sensitive to caffeine anymore. I drank 3 cups of green tea at 7pm but ended up falling asleep at 12:30am and this is even after exercising at 8pm. I must have been THAT tired…
It will probably be the most stressful week of the quarter besides finals week.
Contact lens practical and 2 contact lenses due on Monday (tomorrow!), 1 research paper due and Binocular Vision midterm on Wednesday, and Pharmacology midterm on Friday…jia you, Christine!
December 28, 2012
Happy holidays friends and family! I am currently on winter break although I am leaving the Bay Area very soon; time to get back to the grind! I am actually seeing my VERY FIRST PATIENT On Wednesday! We are required to bring in our own patients and my very good friend Monica has offered to be my guinea pig. She’s a first year optometry student at NECO so I’m sure she will be a very cooperative patient ;). Then from Thursday-Saturday my best friend Eilleen will be visiting me! We are going to meet up with our childhood friend Jenny in Tustin; we haven’t seen her in maybe 4-5 years! So although winter break is coming to an end, I’m very excited to see my friends in SoCal for the remainder of the week :).
2012 is ending and, lo and behold, we are still alive! I welcome 2013 with open and somewhat toned arms as I pretty much fulfilled one of my 2012 New Year’s resolutions of working out 4 times a week. I wanted to take a moment to share some of my New Year’s resolutions:
Drinking 2 cups of water every morning before breakfast. This simple act will boost my metabolism and mood.
Taking initiative in hanging out with friends. I’m sometimes lazy to plan fun things to do and I don’t particularly enjoy eating out all the time, but it’s important to keep good relations with my friends.
Changing my diet and becoming A VEGETARIAN PESCETARIAN for as long as possible. I don’t think this will be very difficult because I don’t even eat meat during the week and I rarely eat red meat at all. However, I’ll always choose a meat dish whenever I eat out with friends. I could never truly become a vegetarian because I love seafood and SALMON (or any type of fish) to death. I’m not necessarily trying to become a pescetarian for only health reasons. Yes, I’ll be cutting back on the saturated fats and cholesterol, but I actually hope to gain better eating habits and self-control over what I eat and this doesn’t only apply to meats. I am talking about CARBS and portion control. My ultimate resolution this year is to eat in moderation. I want to be able to eat anything my heart desires but in moderation. I think the first step is by making conscious efforts to eat certain foods, hence becoming a pescetarian and avoiding meat. I hope to eventually apply this experience when I eat all types of foods including sweets. I’m nots sure how long this lifestyle will last, but I plan to slowly reintroduce lean meat back into my diet.
So, I think it’s necessary for me to at least include something about the eyes in this post. I mentioned that I absolutely love salmon. Certain types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important because our bodies don’t have the proper enzymes to form these *good* fats so we must get these sources from our diet. Omega-3 is essential for good health, but it is speculated that omega-3 supplementation will help to treat DRY EYE DISEASE! I am currently writing a research paper on the efficacy of omega-3 fatty acid treatment in dry eye. It’s an interesting topic to me because 1)I love nutrition and 2) I am interested in dry eye. Dry eye is a multifactorial disease and although taking omega-3 supplements has not been proven yet to treat the syndrome, studies have shown that taking omega-3 supplements will lead to fewer symptoms of dry eye. There are many limitations to these studies and that is why there is no single recommended dose to treat dry eye. My recommendation is to take a supplement if you don’t already eat other sources of omega-3. By the way, the American Dietetic Association recommends of 2 4-oz servings of fish such as salmon, trout or tuna per week.
Alright, that’s all for 2012! SEE you next year :D!
November 28, 2012
Here’s to another quarter at SCCO! We (the second years) finally have a break! I am definitely going to take advantage of our schedule. My best friend is visiting in January and I plan explore LA during the weekends; I miss hiking and going to the beach! I am really enjoying my classes this quarter primarily because of my interest in contact lenses and pharmacology. Interesting fact: I wanted to pursue pharmacy until my freshman year in college when I learned that I could have more patient interaction as an optometrist than as a pharmacist. Also, I didn’t like the idea of having to memorize 1000 drugs and everything about them.
Classes I am taking this quarter:
- Systemic pharmacology: Hopefully my second favorite course although there will be a LOT of memorization. I REALLY like our professor (a pharmacist) so hopefully this class will not be too hard. I am actually eager to learn about the TOP 200 systemic drugs of which 60 (?) have potential ocular side effects.
- Binocular vision and space perception: Essentially our introduction to vision therapy. I really don’t know much about this field. I recently shadowed a third year in the vision therapy department. The 11-year-old patient was diagnosed with convergence insufficiency. Basically, he has difficulty moving his eyes in towards each other (converging), which limits his ability to read. I am also eager to learn more about vision therapy because it’s a potential specialty for residency.
- Evidenced base optometry: Up until last year, students were required to do a research project. To be honest, I’m not sure what we are going to learn in this class yet, but so far we have learned about biostatistics.
- Case analysis and prescribing II: We are learning how to determine the appropriate prescription for hyperopia (farsightedness) and presbyopia (“old age vision”).
- Cornea and contact lenses: I think this will be my favorite course because I have a huge interest in contact lenses. If you read my biography, being involved with contact lens research at UC Berkeley is the reason why I decided to pursue optometry. SCCO’s program is unique in that each student will learn how to FABRICATE hard contact lenses! I don’t know any other school that teaches their students how to actually make them. Will I be making my own contact lenses in the future? Definitely NOT, but it’s good to understand how they are made to ensure the best fit of a hard contact lens on a patient. In the future, I believe we have to make contact lenses for each other. I really hope my partner doesn’t damage my cornea!
I also shadowed a third year intern in the contact lens department. Nothing too exciting about the exam, but the staff doctor bought us all Starbucks! Definitely the best shadowing experience ever ;). A first year student came in to get their annual *free* contact lenses. Definitely a perk of being an optometry student besides getting *free lasik*!
Something interesting is that your contact lens and glasses prescriptions can (and are usually) different! This is because the “vertex distance” or the distance from the eyes to glasses compared to the distance from the eyes to contact lens is different and so we must change the strength of the prescription when converting from glasses to contact lenses and vice versa to compensate for the change in vertex distance. We only really consider vertex distance for higher prescriptions (> 4.00)
- CLINIC. No, not a class. I already saw my “first” patient before Thanksgiving break. I had to do a full dilation exam on a first year student. It was amazing and the exam went well. In January, I will be seeing my very first patient. I really need to figure out who I’m going to bring in. Would anyone like a free eye exam by yours truly? :)
Only a few more weeks until winter break! Is it really going to be 2013?! I will try to blog more often with interesting facts about the eyes!
My best texted me with this quote right after I failed my first major proficiency using the slit lamp. They say everyone fails at least one in OHP (ocular health procedures) class; I hope this is my only one. I spent countless hours practicing and I know that I’m proficient in using the slit lamp, but it all came down to six precious minutes. I was unlucky. I somehow hit a knob that dimmed my light so I couldn’t see anything and I didn’t know what to do. In fact, I thought the light bulb burned out! It’s kind of embarrassing because most of my classmates passed and no one really knows that I failed. It doesn’t matter anymore, though. All I can do now is to look forward and prepare for my upcoming exams.
2nd year is already kicking my butt. I need to stay strong.
September 3, 2012
Hi friends and family! It has be a long time since I last posted. Why? My Spring quarter was quite busy with clinical proficiencies and a new boyfriend. Summer came and I was busy working and exercising that by the end of the day, I was too exhausted to update this blog.
Optometry’s meeting in Chicago occurred this summer. I had fun with my classmates as we toured the city, went up the Willis (Sears) tower, ate deep dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs, went to the field museum as part of the conference, saw a CVS and Corner bakery literally on every corner, visited Obama’s neighborhood, cheered on SCCO at the Varilux Student Bowl, attended a few seminars, walked around a huge exhibit hall and picked up a few free items, and much more. I can’t wait for Optometry’s meeting in San Diego next year!
2nd year. Even though we just started, I am already feeling overwhelmed. I didn’t really anticipate the huge workload along with my four leadership positions at school. I am the 2015 class treasurer, AOSA (American Optometric Student Association) historian, Omega Delta Fraternity pledge coordinator and the Cornea and Contact Lens Liason for the AOSA. In all honesty, my positions don’t require as much work at other positions, but I didn’t realize that I am part of the whole cabinet. There were times when I had to be at two meetings at once! Besides this, I am practicing in the pre-clinic for more hours than last quarter. We are learning to use the slit lamp biomicroscope and a fancy instrument called a binocular indirect ophthalmoscope. It’s a fancy instrument to check the health of the back part of your eye. You would probably know this instrument if your optometrist ever shined a REALLY bright light into your eyes to the point where your eyes tear up.
This quarter is absolutely crazy. After next week, I will have 2 midterms per week for 6 consecutive weeks plus 1 or two proficiencies per week. Everyone says fall quarter (and spring) of your second year is tough. They weren’t lying.
Classes I’m taking this quarter:
-Ocular physiology: I really enjoy physiology and anatomy. Maybe it’s because I’m pretty good at memorization, but I love knowing how and why things work the way they do.
-Clinical medicine II,: pretty straightforward class on medicine. We just learned about respiratory diseases. I am really happy I didn’t pursue a degree in medicine. It’s just not for me.
-Ophthalmic optics II: Currently reviewing lensometry (analyzing glasses) but we will learn to fit and fix frames! I really enjoy this class because it is so hands-on and applicable. I am quite prone to damaging my glasses, so it will be nice to know how to fix them.
Sensory vision: learning about color vision right now. It’s so interesting!
-Case analysis and prescribing: Learning how to input data into the EMR. By 2014 (?) all optometrists are supposed to convert to using EMR instead of paper charts. Our charts are audited at the Eye Care Center, so it’s crucial that each section is complete.
-Optometric Clinical Service II: One vision screening and helping out the 3rd/4th years in the Eye Care Center. This is the closest to seeing real patients until next quarter!
-Ocular Health Procedures (OPH): This class is listed in BOLD because it’s one of the hardest classes this year (or in all of optometry school at SCCO?!) besides OHP II. If I don’t pass this class, then I will automatically get held-back because the skills in this class are crucial for any eye exam. The fact that there are 20 open hours to practice per week shows the intensity of this class. I’m probably practicing only 5 additional hours a week but that’s because I’m really busy with my organizations and other classes, but I think I will be okay. The TA’s are really helpful and I really try to utilize my time during lab.
I don’t want to sound like a depressing optometry student. A bunch of us gathered at my classmate’s house this weekend for an epic BBQ. We played taboo, jenga and beer pong while eating Korean BBQ shortribs. It was nice to relax. I will try to update more frequently this quarter, but I won’t make promises. Thanks for reading! :)