Inaugural Beginnings at Rocky Mountain University College of Optometry

Melanie Pham, Rocky Mountain University

Snowboarding, alpine lakes and hiking in Zion National Park are just a couple of things to look forward to on the weekends; that is, if you’ve completed all your assignments for the week and have time to explore. As the first optometry school in the Intermountain Region, Rocky Mountain University (RMU) College of Optometry not only provides the most up-to-date technology but also a balanced and student-friendly schedule. The mountain views are just a plus!

When I interviewed at RMU, I immediately felt at home because of the welcoming presence of the faculty. They genuinely want us to succeed and provide us with the resources to do so as well. We’re not traditional in terms of the academic school year, having three back-to-back trimesters with a two-week break in between each. It might sound like a lot, but it fosters a great learning environment with a lighter class load, allowing us to take mental breaks and not forget all that we’ve learned over the summer. The stress load is manageable, and we are able to practice good time management skills. 

Four seasons at Rocky Mountain University

How does it feel to be the ‘first’ class?

Being the first cohort might seem scary as we’re considered “guinea pigs,” but the school really takes our feedback into consideration to develop the curriculum. We are able to be pioneers and leaders as we establish chapters of national organizations such as the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) and Students Volunteer in Optometric Service to Humanity (SVOSH).  It is a little tricky not having guidance from a class above us, but this past May, they introduced the second cohort, and now we are able to help them out through a vertical mentorship program. Watching our program grow both in size and associations is really touching.  

A typical day in the life

Our day-to-day schedule will start as early as 8 a.m., with two lectures back to back, and then continue to a two-hour lab about the corresponding class if you’re in the first lab section. Our lab sections are split into two sections due to our smaller class size of 56. The second section will have a three-hour break before the next two lectures. This time can be utilized to get ahead on material or study for upcoming quizzes/exams. The small class size allows us to know all our classmates and forge relationships that will extend into our professional careers. In addition to that, RMU itself hosts multiple other doctorate programs such as Physical Therapy, Physician Assistants, and Nursing. This allows us to practice interprofessional work as well because a lot of systemic diseases correlating to the eyeball have other origins.  

Taking a leap of faith and moving across the country to a brand-new program was the best thing I have done thus far for my optometric career.

Scroll to Top