As I begin my third year of optometry school at Inter American University School of Optometry in Puerto Rico, I would like to reflect on the wild ride that was second year!
During second year the course work was much more challenging. In first year we learned all the basics; then in second year we built on those basics, so the concepts took a little more time to digest and comprehend. Spring semester of second year was the hardest semester of my school career to date, partly due to non-strabismic binocular anomalies (say that three times fast!). Once I found my rhythm, though, it was all very doable!
It was tough yet very rewarding. There were many days when all I could do was study, go to class, eat, sleep and if I was lucky fit in some time to exercise. But don’t get me wrong, I was able to slide in a much needed day or two at the beach here and there. I guess that is the big advantage of living on an island!
During Fall Semester, in addition to classes we started going to different preschools and elementary schools around the island to do vision screenings for children. Those days were very long but fun, and we got to practice our skills as well as our Spanish on the little ones. In second year we also began clerkships where we were able to be in the school clinic helping third years perform exams on patients.
Spring Semester began with our white coat ceremony at a beautiful resort on the coast of Puerto Rico. Our families were able to fly in to celebrate our special day with us. Second year ended with a final proficiency called the Clinical Skills Assessment. This was a mock trial of boards part 3. It was a very stressful and nerve-racking experience, and it was such a relief when it was finished.
Here are some quotes from my fellow classmates about their take on second year.
“Second year was more or less like an obstacle course. Looking back, it was tough going through it, but the feeling of accomplishment in the end is gratifying. Many new courses were introduced to our class with information that we have never seen before. Motility and Ocular Disease were two of the more thought-provoking courses that the class as a whole had to manage. Although it was difficult and frustrating at times, I think we all agree that each professor/doctor is very passionate about his or her respective subject matters. Clinic was also a great experience that I had as a second year. Shadowing the third and sometimes fourth years was our first time having a hands-on experience dealing with real patients. And what makes our clinical involvement uniquely challenging is the language barrier that we have to overcome. A majority of our class has had little to no Spanish language skills prior to attending IAUPR. With most of the patients being Spanish-only speakers, it becomes crucial for us to be methodical in order to prevent omitting important information. We must make sure not to miss anything the patient is telling us during their case history while verifying they understand any instructions provided to them. Although there were many times when I was stumped by what/how to say something in Spanish, in the end I know this skill is going to open up many opportunities in my future.
Another aspect of second year that I found beneficial was the Clinical Skills Assessment our class had at the very end of the semester. We were the first class (with the new curriculum) to participate in this evaluation. It was a mock version of Boards part III with the equivalent 4 stations, except for injections. Although it was an intimidating experience to say the least, it made me reflect as a student and realize how much I have learned thus far. This only solidified the fact that my class and I are ready to see our own patients starting this July.” –Risa Sugimoto
“My favorite part of second year of optometry school was definitely the incorporation of clerkship into our curriculum. I feel that having the opportunity to go alongside third year students and see patients will be a great benefit to us once we start clinic in July.” –Elena Micevska
After completing year 2 I feel accomplished and proud of myself and my classmates’ achievements – we’re halfway done! I’m excited to conquer the next 2 years!