COVID-19 changed my optometry school experience

How can a virus, that I did not contract, change my optometry school experience?

When the world started talking about COVID-19, I really did not think anything of it. I went about my day, went to my classes, studied, practiced, worked, and socialized. It was not until schools around the nation started a discussion about virtual education instead of face-to-face learning. That’s when the anxiety set in for me, but I wasn’t anxious about getting the virus, I was anxious about what that meant for my graduate program.

Naturally, anyone would be afraid of a deadly virus, but since moving away from my high-risk family and being generally healthy, that was not my concern. My concern was about surviving optometry school online!

isolation, independent learning, optometry school, onlineBeing at home 24/7 may sound great to a “homebody” like me, but even I am getting lonely and feeling alienated. Naturally, at this point in my education I would be socializing with my peers, networking with current doctors, and building relationships with professors to further my education. Now, with COVID-19 lingering in the air, I am stuck in a home office where I am subjected to face-time studying with peers and muted video along with muted microphone zoom calls with professors.

It is not easy to wake up everyday knowing that you are just going in the next room over (in your pajamas) to watch online lectures, study and do assignments. For the first week I had my mother calling me every morning to ensure I routinely get out of bed and start my day. I had to make sure I kept my normal school routine or I was never going to get anything done.

virtual learning, online classes, isolation, optometry schoolEvery day the professors and faculty send excessive emails about the changing policy and uncertainty of the situation. Although, I do appreciate the constant communication and efforts made by all the faculty at my university. Some days the information eases the stress, but that was counteracted by the days of detrimental news. Our current situation lies in the hands of the government and health organizations who determine when we can resume regular classes, but my optometry program has already converted our summer education to virtual learning.

As a first-year optometry student, we were just about to start working on refraction techniques and perfecting those skills. Now we are at a stand-still and cannot move forward to our anticipated summer and fall courses without the completion of those skills. Our summer may consist of regulated practice times with small groups and PPE in order to fulfill this requirement.

As important as it is to follow the guidelines of the health organizations, university, and government officials, for the safety of ourselves and others, this could potentially be detrimental to my education. Every day I work to see the positive of the situation, stay motivated, and most importantly learn. Remember, this is only the “temporary normal”, we will get through this!

For a look at coronavirus for optometry students, click the link.

How is your program handling this crisis? Do you have something similar set up at your school? Let us know in the comments down below!

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