Low Vision with a Twist

As an officer for the LVR (Low Vision and Rehabilitation) Club at RSO, I am very excited to share my experience with a recent event that we held as a fundraiser. Most people have heard about “Painting with a Twist,” which involves a teacher showing you step-by-step how to finish a painting, all while indulging in a BYOB atmosphere. LVR Club wanted to do something similar, but do it with a low vision twist. This was the first time an event like this has ever been held at UIWRSO, so we were very eager to have it go off with a bang!

For our event, we had a teacher (our very own third year and LVR officer Minati Desai) show us how to paint a picture, but with the added difficulty of wearing low vision simulator glasses. Our third year class made these glasses, and they simulated all kinds of low vision diseases such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma, among others. Participants were encouraged to use the glasses and see a small glimpse into the life of someone with one of these eye diseases. I used a pair of cataract glasses and I have to admit that it got difficult when I was trying to use my central vision! Luckily, I was still able to come up with a decent painting.

One of the great things about this event is that more than just RSO students attended. Some pharmacy students from UIW attended, as well as friends of the professors here at UIWRSO. One thing that is very difficult about being an officer in a club is sometimes worrying about the turnout of events. We were very pleased that we had a full turnout with all 30 spots filled. We were also able to have wine service at the school for this specific event. The event was sponsored by Mattingly Low Vision.

Everyone at the event really enjoyed it. Many people told me it was one of the best events we’ve ever had at RSO, which myself and the other officers of the club are very proud of. We were even mentioned in the UIW newsletter! I hope that this event continues next year and even after we graduate. I think it is a great way to educate students who have no prior exposure to low vision and also people who aren’t involved in optometry. I am very proud of what our club has done this year, so what a great event to finish off my third year of optometry school!

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Fourth Year Begins!

My optometry school career is coming to a bittersweet end. I am finally in my fourth year at UIWRSO which means a number of things: going on externships, taking part 2 and 3 of NBEO Boards, and saying goodbye to a lot of friends! You guys have been a part of most of my journey, and I will continue writing this year, so you can see what a fourth year extern experiences!

At UIWRSO, students in their fourth year go on to their externship sites to gain more knowledge in optometry, their skills, and network with many other doctors around the country. At the beginning of third year, you get to “choose” your sites based on your rank in the class. You write down your top choices for sites based on your preferences in site (VA hospitals, contact lens/private practice sites, etc.) and the location around the country. I CE3wanted to go to a VA hospital to gain experience in posterior segment, as well as get a taste for private practice, so I chose both as my top choices, and luckily, I got them! You also get to spend a semester at UIWRSO as a fourth year, continuing your education from your third year clinic rotation.

I was very nervous to start the first rotation. Going from third year clinic, where you get almost 2 hours for an exam, to a VA hospital where you get about 35-40 minutes for a complete exam, was very intimidating at first. I chose a site where I was the only extern there so I could become more independent. Some sites have room for only 1 extern, while others have the capability of having several (sometimes 7 or 8 depending on other schools’ participation). Clinic started around 9:45am at the third year clinic, now I had to be ready to go by 7:30am for my first patient at my new site!

I’m not going to lie; the first few weeks at my rotation were hectic to say the least. I was very intimidated by the amount of patients I saw, my new preceptors, and all the new things I needed to learn at the site. The electronic medical record (EMR) system was very different from RSO’s, but I picked it up quickly. I also had to learn how to cut down on my exam time, which the preceptors helped me with. I also had access to a lot of technology, including OCT and Visual Field testing (which I had in the school clinic), but also new equipment like an anterior segment camera, B-scan, and fundus autofluorescence! It was very exciting to learn about these machines and be able to interpret their scans.

During the externship, you also have other responsibilities as a student. You are required to write about 2 cases that you personally saw at the site. You also have a chance to provide feedback to the externship director about your preceptors at the site. It gives you a chance to let them know what more they could do to enhance your learning experience at the site. Your preceptors also do an evaluation of you, indicating what you are strong in and also some areas of weakness and how to improve. It’s a great learning experience. Even though I’m pretty sensitive when it comes to criticism, everything they wrote was true and I took it to heart. By the end of the semester, I’m glad to say, my preceptors thought I improved 100%. It is a good feeling to know your preceptors want you to do well.

Although I am only finished with my first rotation through my fourth year, I can tell you that I have learned so much more than I thought I ever could. Being in class and learning from a book is one thing, but actually experiencing it and seeing it in a patient, as well as managing it, is another. I have grown leaps and bounds from this first experience, and know I will continue to grow through my next two sites. Stay tuned to hear about those in the near future!

Making our Private Practice Knowledge “Sharp”

One of the great things about UIWRSO is that professors are very involved in the multiple clubs we have at school. They are able to come in and give talks about their personal practices, experiences, or advice for future optometrists. One of the prominent clubs at UIWRSO is our Private Practice Club (PPC). PPC brings in professionals who share their experiences with students on opening practices, what works and what doesn’t. Additional guidance can be found in special events like “Dining with the Doctors” where students have the opportunity to eat at a restaurant with a professor from our school and “pick their brain.” Fortunately, one of our professors, Dr. Richard Sharp, was able to speak to the students of UIWRSO about his private practice, Sharp Eye Consultants, P.A. Dr. Sharp teaches “Diagnosing and Management of Glaucoma” at UIWRSO, and also hosts an externship for fourth year students (which I will be attending—stay tuned for details!).

Sharp Consultants, P.A. is a practice that focuses on those who have ocular or systemic diseases and providing care for those patients. Many patients are those who are referred by their primary care physicians for this specialized care. The practice has an optical to provide these services to patients, as well. Three doctors manage the practice, including Dr. Sharp, Dr. Eddy Contreras, and Dr. Steven Campbell, who are all optometric glaucoma specialists. As I mentioned previously, RSO fourth years have an opportunity to work alongside these skilled doctors during their externships.

Dr. Sharp visited with the students of RSO of how his private practice came to be. He first started talking about when and where it was created and what kind of income the practice generates. Dr. Sharp mentioned that one source of income is a “capitated contract,” which I had no idea what that was. As he put it, you get paid to “take care of a patient month by month” instead of charging per visit. As he explained it more and more, it definitely gave us a better idea about the options available to us once we have our own practices. He also talked about the issues he had opening a practice and what to watch out for. This is the kind of advice you can only get from someone who has experienced set backs; I was very interested in this part because we can avoid these mistakes in the future. He then went on to explain what a day is typically like in his practice: who they see each day, what kind of patients, as well as the billing that comes along with it. Dr. Sharp also offered some tips for us, as future doctors, on how to impress your patients such as taking the extra five minutes to explain their disease because they will appreciate it and come back to your practice. I hope you enjoy a glimpse of his presentation:

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At RSO, we are lucky to have professors who can give us the “keys to success.” I love the fact that our faculty is close to the students and they help us to learn from their mistakes and triumphs. Even though it might be quite sometime before I open my own practice, I will take what I learned from Dr. Sharp’s presentation and apply it when the time comes.

To learn more about Dr. Sharp’s practice, please visit:

http://sharpeyeconsultants.com

Prepping for Boards Part I

After the hardship that optometry students like to call second year, third year seems great! You now have an opportunity to practice your skills on real-life patients in clinic, have a lot less classes and labs, and just overall have more free time. That is, until studying for Boards Part I rolls around! NBEO Part I Boards is very intimidating for a lot of students. It tests most of the information that you learn during your first three years of optometry school! Even though this can be very daunting, UIWRSO aims to help students to better prepare for boards. Continue reading “Prepping for Boards Part I”

LVR Club Celebrates Valentine’s Day

I am a firm believer that students that enroll in an optometry program should also be active outside the classroom. I am lucky enough to be an officer for our school’s Low Vision and Rehabilitation (LVR) club. Every month I send out information about low vision diseases and our role, as optometrists, in treatment and management of the diseases. We also host many events, including trips to the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind, 5k walks, etc. This month, in honor of Low Vision Awareness Month, LVR Club decided to help out our library in making Valentine’s Day Cards for employees of the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind.

At the beginning of the meeting, our club’s president, Candice Jones, explained the upcoming events that LVR will have. This includes (and make sure you watch out for the blogs about these!): Volunteer events such as vision screenings, San Antonio Low Vision Club monthly meetings, Low Vision Expo, as well as “Low Vision with a Twist.” Coordinating events such as these is a great way to network and learn a lot more about optometry, even outside of school. Food for this meeting was graciously donated by one of the RSO faculty, Dr. Matt Valdes.

Then the fun making the Valentine’s Day cards began! Because many of the employees of the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind are visually impaired, students, faculty, and staff used tactile stickers, glitter glue, beads, felt, and dark markers so it is easier for them to read the cards once they receive them. You don’t really know how much you take for granted until you realize little things like this: that people need things like tactile words/stickers in order to “see” what you wrote. It was very humbling.

During the meeting, we were able to make a lot of cards! Our school library is actually keeping the card station open so that all students can get involved whenever they have time. I am excited to hear about these employees opening their cards. I hope that reading something like this will brighten their day, even if it is just a little bit. I am grateful to have the opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life, and I wouldn’t have known about it unless I joined UIWRSO’s LVR Club!

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