As if the food, the ambiance and that southern hospitality weren’t enough of an incentive to visit Atlanta, each year the Southern Education Congress of Optometry (SECO) brings together a diverse group of students and doctors to partake in a worldwide celebration of optometry. Each year SECO highlights some of the newest technological advances in optometry and presents well renowned speakers allowing students and optometrists to partake in a week of stimulating conversations. Our optometrystudents.com team was at SECO this year, and we are happy to announce that the winner of our iPad giveaway is Ginny Carroll from UAB! Thanks to everyone who filled out our survey and stopped by our booth to chat with us!
Our team at optometrystudents.com was well represented at SECO with first, second and third year attendees who all found it beneficial to attend this conference at this point in their career. For those of you who have not attended SECO or are on the fence to attend the next one, here is the feedback from this year’s team to answer your questions.
First year, Jade McLachlin shares her insight about why to attend SECO as a first year student:
SECO provided a great opportunity for networking. I came back to school with a stack of business cards from students across the country as well as ODs who are looking for business partners. I have already followed up on these contacts to solidify the relationships and keep the door open for the future. In addition there is groundbreaking technology at your fingertips, minus the “do not touch” sign. This allowed me to translate what I had learned didactically about certain instruments to a practical application while having the opportunity to compare the benefits of one instrument to the next. Finally, SECO had some of the best after-hour events for students and doctors to unwind. These events provide an excellent space to have fun and mingle with your fellow colleagues. This year one of the parties was like something out of a SNL show with a lip sync battle, in which yours truly conquered the stage with “Let It Go” It was great to watch doctors and students participate in this event and step out of their comfort zone. I came back rejuvenated and awaiting the next trip!
Second year student, Jessica Chan elaborates about the benefits of a second year student attendee at SECO.
This was my second time attending SECO and it was an even better experience the second time around! I was able to reconnect with friends from other optometry schools, students and reps that I had met last year, as well as make many new connections. I highly encourage attending events more than once, whether it is SECO, Academy, Optometry’s Meeting, etc. As a second year, you’ve learned the majority of skills to do an exam and are learning more about disease and clinical optometry. You won’t be in over your head in CE classes and symposiums, and you’ll learn a lot! Like Jade mentioned, you can try out all the new technology – most of which you have now learned to use (and the reps will show you of course). You’ll be familiar with the various pharmaceutical products and contact lens companies and can learn about and try different products and gain personal experience to help you in clinic. My favorite thing about SECO is overall student experience – there’s a student lounge, student events and symposiums, and no other conference offers a student stipend. I’ll definitely be back next year!
Third year student, Sloan Rajadhyksha reveals the advantage attending SECO as a third year:
Let me preface by saying that deciding to attend SECO two weeks before NBEO Part 1 may seem a daunting idea to every third year student, and I admit it was for me as well, but this conference proved to be worth the investment. So, say that long painful goodbye to your KMK books and embrace this well renowned conference for all the education and insight it has to offer. If you do find yourself having separation anxiety from boards prep, fear not, the optometrystudents.com lounge provides a safe haven for students passing through on their lunch break as well as the third year student who want to engage in some opto-prep in between CE talks. Every day at SECO provided an opportunity to network with vendors, ODs and other optometry students which always brought on stimulating conversations. With graduation only being a year away, this is the time to start thinking about which products to invest in especially if you want establish a private practice. Walking through the exhibit hall is an excellent way to window shop various frame lines and equipment while enjoying a casual glass of champagne. I had the opportunity to speak with representatives from various companies and learn about different instruments ranging from OCTs to Meibographers. In addition, the CE talks encompass a wide range of topics including how to amplify the media representation of your practice as well as exposing the latest pharmacological advances in the profession today; as a bonus this is an excellent way to review for boards. Finally, it is always exciting to visit a different city and reuniting with your friends from different optometry schools and Atlanta proved to be no different. SECO’s generous contribution of a $100 travel grant to every student attendee ensured that we all had a great experience -whether it was riding the Ferris wheel or enjoying the deep fried okra at the local hot spot. This was my first year at SECO and I can guarantee you that it won’t be my last!