The Sunny Side of Optometry School (with video)

The Sunny Side of Optometry School
By: Nik Pilecki (UW 3rd year optometry student)

“Now I don’t want to mislead you.  Optometry school is the most fun I have ever had!  But there are numerous nights spent studying where I drink enough Redbull and coffee to kill a hippopotamus.” – Nik Pilecki

Are you currently sitting in a study cubicle no bigger than an airplane bathroom, studying for the OAT? Maybe you’re practicing BIO, pondering whether the ora serrata actually exists or if it’s just an old wives’ tale like that of the mythical Loch Ness Monster? Or perhaps you are a practicing optometrist whose temporal vein bulges out in anger every time you ask “1 or 2?” and get a response about the patient’s cat.

In any of these cases you may be finding it tough to muster up the patience or motivation to get into, to get through, or to continue optometry.  But let me bring to you the silver lining of being a part of the ocular health profession.  My name is Nik and I am currently a third year optometry student at the University of Waterloo and I can honestly say that optometrists and optometry students alike are the most creative, interesting and outgoing health care professionals out there! Not to mention the most attractive. Just kidding.

Optometry school is this magical place that’s like going back high school….but better!   You know everyone in you’re class, plus your old enough to get past the immature social pitfalls of cliques.  The jocks hang out with nerds, cheerleaders with punks and science geeks with artsy types.  Oh and the best part is that your parents are not around, so “school nights” are not really meant for academic purposes.  You can stay out until the sunrise pierces your pupils, party whenever you want and date whomever you want to.  Inter-class dating in optometry is about as common and frequent as 13-year-old girls screaming at a Justin Bieber concert.

Now I don’t want to mislead you.  Optometry school is the most fun I have ever had!  But there are numerous nights spent studying where I drink enough Redbull and coffee to kill a hippopotamus. I will have my eyes glued to an outdated optics textbook wondering about the applicability of Zernike’s polynomials.  Optometry is a very demanding program.  I have about 40 hours of lectures and labs every week and on top of all of this there are exams, tests, assignments and clinic! So how do you get through 4 years of this stress without wanting to perform a self-lobotomy?

Well, here at UW we have a plethora of events to help relieve this on-going tension!  My personal favorite is Optometry Skit Night.  Basically it’s a night where each year level creates SNL-like sketches that deal with optometry topics or poking fun at each other.  Last year we made a spoof hip-hop video of the popular Flo Rida tune “Club Can’t Handle Me”.  Our rendition was cleverly titled “Clinic Can’t Handle Me” and featured my fellow students dancing in the clinic to music filled with optometry puns. Another song included “Fire eyes”, a cover of the trendy pop song “Fireflies” by Owl City.

Now, bad puns are not limited to just skit night.  Other anxiety-lowering affairs include the Eye Ball (prom for optometry students), Eyescream (Halloween), Optomspeil (curling tournament) and another personal favorite the Corneal Cup. The Corneal Cup is an inter-year hockey tournament where students from any skill level (and I mean any!) can hop on the ice and give it their all.  My favorite part has to be the names of the teams! Some names include: the Fighting Iris, the Ray-Bandits, The Mighty Tear Ducts and the Jed-Eyes!

Being a person who is almost done their journey through professional school, the only piece of advise I have for young students, is to have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously.  You have to remember that as a doctor you have to not only be intelligent and technically competent, but you also must be personable and be able to listen and converse with patients. Being engaging will help you with the interview process, getting a job and helping to better care of your patients.

Whether you build this personality through peer interaction at events based on very lame optometry wordplay or clubs or sport teams, it’s as important  a tool as any of piece of equipment in your lane. So, as often as you bury your face in a book you should also be out building your social skills; because at the end of the day the patient doesn’t remember how good the mires looked on your Goldmann Tonometry.

Have a good one!
By: Nik Pilecki (UW 3rd year optometry student)

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