The demands of Optometry school can leave you feeling like you have to be a superhero to be successful. You can day-dream about freezing time or being a brainiac but the reality is that superheroes only exist in movies. It’s not atypical to feel overwhelmed and
overworked. When you focus too much time on your studies, you take time away from self-care and life’s other priorities. Then, you accept that there are simply not enough hours in the day, and you go to bed with a list of to-dos that may never be completed. Don’t be so hard on yourself and look outward seeking help from those around you to re-gain a sense of accomplishment. In other words, drink from your
resource cup and you’ll feel less empty at the end of the day. Here are my tips to utilizing your resources to enhance student performance and leave you feeling saner and less super-human.
1. Get to know your upperclassman
There is no one better to learn the ropes of optometry school from than those whom have most recently gone before you. Making friends with optometry students in the year above you can be a huge asset. Whether they’re sharing advice or notes, both can be beneficial. I’ve personally noticed that when I come across a challenging topic in a class it’s much more time efficient to have an upperclassman “dumb-down” a concept in a few minutes than to self-teach from the book and notes. If you’re feeling really challenged with a specific class, don’t hesitate to ask if they’re willing to tutor you. KYCO, for example, has an awesome tutoring program that allows students to be tutored in small groups or individually by someone who just took that class. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself. The students above you have been in your shoes too and are more than willing to help you make it through. Not only that, but it may be a great way for them to review or study topics on an upcoming NBEO exam!
2. Meet with your professor, often
If you’re falling behind in a course, go straight to the source. The best person to explain something you’re confused on is the person who presented the material. After all, they’re the one writing your test too! Sitting in lectures for hours on end, you are liable to miss key points that the professor can quickly re-emphasize in office hours or through email. I promise, they don’t want you to fail, they just want you to understand the material. As a professor at your school, the chances are they’re highly experienced outside the classroom too. Professors’ have a wealth of knowledge that any student can learn from. Go sooner rather than later. After the first time you walk into a professor’s office or email what you might think is a “dumb” question, it’ll only be easier to reach out for clarifications and help later in the semester. Developing a relationship with your professors can also serve to benefit you throughout your optometric career. Once you graduate, they may be among your referral and advisory networks. Get to know them, and keep those relationships strong!
3. Must have apps
In today’s modern age, there are so many apps that can be used to simplify, organize, and prioritize your life. Here are just a few that have greatly impacted my study habits. Flora is an app that allows you to set a study timer on your phone. When your timer runs out without looking at other apps on your phone, a tree is planted somewhere in need. However, if you open up other apps once the timer has started, you are penalized. You can put whatever dollar amount you choose for becoming distracted on your phone then that money is also used to plant trees. Being a distracted studier
can be detrimental to time management. If you have an iPad, Notability is a must. You can easily download a PowerPoint and write all your notes directly on the slides. With Notability you’re saving time and money spent at the printer. Quizlet Plus is also a great study tool. Many are familiar with the free version, but the extra perks you pay for can be well worth it. You can easily type in definitions or place pictures for anatomy to name structures. There are so many features to enhance your studying including digital flashcards from scanning across your notes or matching games to make learning a little more fun.
4. Identify your support system
When it comes down to it, optometry school is full-speed ahead and sometimes you can feel discouraged. Identifying your support system can give you that boost of confidence when you need it most. When you’ve forgotten the importance of the career you’ve chosen to pursue, they’re only a phone call away for backup. It’s even better to have them on your
side to take part in your victories too. You’re not in optometry school alone. Lean on your classmates, family and friends when things get tough. They’ll give you the perspective you need to make it through and become the best optometrist you can be. When you’re living a more balanced life, including the ones you care about most, you’ll never feel alone.
I highly encourage you to reach out to your faculty about the resources available for you. There are vast opportunities around to help you succeed through optometry school. So… hang up your cape and drink in all your resources!