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  • Liz Frontino

    First Week in Memphis


    Hi Everyone!

    I’m so excited to be writing my first blog post! I just moved to Memphis a few days ago and am busy getting acclimated to this new city! So far, I really like what I’ve seen.

    Before I get started, let me introduce myself. My name is Liz Frontino, and I’m from a small town in Northwestern Pennsylvania. If anyone has ever heard of Groundhog’s Day or Punxsutawney Phil, that’s basically where I’m from. I graduated from Bryn Mawr College in Philadelphia in 2012 with a degree in biology. Throughout college, I thought that I would go to medical school and work in a family practice or do something in public health. I never really considered optometry, despite knowing several optometrists and a very respected ophthalmologist. When I graduated, I decided to take a year off before applying to school, and it happened that I ended up with a job at the eye clinic in my hometown. Despite being such a small town, the Laurel Eye Clinic is a huge establishment, with 8 ODs, 2 MDs, and 10 practice locations. Not really knowing what I was doing, I accepted a job as a technician. From day one, I loved it. I had never really worked with optometrists before, and I thought that their job was basically to prescribe glasses and do routine exams. I was absolutely wrong! I never knew how many eye diseases there were, how many systemic diseases were related to the eyes, or just how crucial optometrists are in someone’s overall health.

    When it came time to start thinking seriously about medical school, I was torn, knowing I would miss working with eyes on a daily basis. I didn’t want to be a doctor who just performed basic eye screenings; I wanted to really delve into the specifics of eye care. I knew that optometry would also satisfy my interest in routine, family care and that I would have multiple opportunities to become involved in public health. Before I knew it, I was studying for my OAT and starting applications for optometry school.

    When I began applying to schools, I thought the only place I would apply would be to the school in my home state. I really only applied to SCO as a backup, based on a a recommendation from one of the ODs I worked with. When it came time to interview, however, I was immediately impressed with SCO. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. I felt comfortable right away. Even though I knew I’d be far from home, SCO just seemed like the right fit for me. I thought the Eye Center was amazing, Memphis seemed like a neat place, and I could really see myself learning here. When my acceptance came, it didn’t take me long to make a decision!

    So here I am! Very excited to be in Memphis. I’m living on Mud Island in the Belle Harbour apartments and can’t believe how gorgeous my apartment and the surrounding area is. I will have two roommates, but neither has arrived yet, so I’m just trying to fend off the homesickness and loneliness by staying busy and exploring my new home. I’m very excited to start orientation and classes next week, and to meet all of my fellow students.

    There you have it! That’s a very long introduction, but it gives you an idea of my story and where I come from :) I will write more once classes begin and I can get a better feel for what it’s like to be a real optometry student! Thanks for listening!

    Amy Puerto

    And then…there was Part 3


    Greetings, blogosphere:

    How did August sneak up on us so quickly? I feel like I was just starting my first externship rotation at The Eye Center, and now-BAM- I’ve only got a week left of this rotation! I can never say it enough but time really has flown by. And since it’s August, it means 4th year optometry students can officially start taking National Boards Part III…

    First, this exam is unique compared to Part I or Part II exams where students take a standardized, multiple choice test.  Instead, Part 3 is a completely clinical skills examination that simulates a real-life optometric examination room and patient care. Optometry students must travel to the National Testing Center in Charlotte, NC to take Part III. Optometry students can sign up to take Part 3 anytime during their fourth year. Of course, I figured the earlier the better since I’ll be taking Part II in December.  What makes taking the exam in August even more practical for me is that I’ve been at SCO all summer doing my in-house externship rotation . You see , SCO has two specifically-designed NBEO Part III practice rooms set-up in the clinic. Not only do these rooms have a similar layout to the examination rooms in Charlotte, but they also utilize the same equipment students have to use for national boards. Being able to practice ahead of time on the equipment–especially using the video taping system on the slit lamp and BIO– was not only a real advantage, but it helped me gain the confidence and efficiency to do well during the exam.

    Speaking of the exam, it’s broken up into 4 stations- including an injection skills test- each with a number of procedures that have to be completed in 30 minutes at each station. After practicing every weekend (and sometimes following clinic in the evenings) this summer, I can honestly say some skills went smashingly well during my exam. Of course, I’ll be the first to admit the nerves did get me here and there, and I had a few mistakes…however it was everything I expected, and as far as the testing center end of things go, it couldn’t have gone better. SCO-especially the mock clinic rooms I had mentioned above-prepared me very well for this exam.  Also, I have to thank several third year students for sitting as patients for me on multiple occasions so I could get the practice experience in before I took Part III.  At the end of the day, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I did well enough to pass. I won’t know my scores until October, so in the meantime I’ll enjoy my last few days in clinic at SCO and start preparing for my move back to Kentucky for my private practice externship. And as you already know, December is only a few short months off, which means it’ll be time to take my last and final boards exam-Part II (EEK!). Now, in case you weren’t already aware–SCO did have a 100% passage rate on Part II last year, so there’s some high expectations for my class going into the exam….I better start studying!

    Now if all goes well, by January 2015 I will hopefully have all my boards exams completed (and passed!), so that the next big milestone on my plate is GRADUATION (can you all believe it!?!). But let’s not get ahead of ourselves quite yet ;)

    Okay readers, I’m off to the Bluegrass State in t-minus 10 days!

    Carpe Diem,


    Virgilio Gozum

    The Summer of Patients


    My summer semester is coming to an end, but it has been quite eventful in clinic. I definitely feel that I’ve learned so much and that I’ve advanced my knowledge of the optometric arts, but along the way I’ve also had quite a few memorable patient encounters ranging in age from 1 to 90. Let’s talk about just a few of those within that range.

    On Mondays, I started out in APC with Dr. Norton. Fourth year Adult Primary Care kept me and my suitemates – Braden, Jordan, and Jen – quite busy, and we would typically see five or six patients a day. At first, it took some acclimation, but 3rd year APC did prepare us well, especially in the spring.

    Out of the many patients I saw in APC, I think I will always remember a few in particular. One patient, cap turned backwards, right pants leg cut off right above the knee, admitted to me with his greeting that he had a few…drinks before the exam. Ha! Alrighty then. I knew at that moment that this would be an eye exam to remember. Extremely nice guy, but he did have a propensity for exaggeration. For example, I highly doubt that he was a native Alaskan whose father shipped him off to Morocco as a teenager so that he could marry an exotic Moroccan princess (arranged marriage, of course) and father 25 half-Alaskan, half-Moroccan children. But all he needed were reading glasses, and he was grateful for an accurate prescription.

    Another patient in APC was much, much more stately. At the young age of ninety, she hardly looked 65 to me. With just a few wrinkles of wisdom on her face and just the mildest of cataracts (!) and no systemic diseases, she possessed incredible health and vitality. This retired nurse’s secret? “Just keep busy,” she said, “and never stop moving.” Fine words to live by, and she told me fascinating stories of growing up in Memphis circa 1930-1940.

    Halfway through the semester, we switched from APC to our new clinic at University Eye Care, at the University of Memphis. Still in its early phases, our schedule was a little lighter, though it has picked up it recent weeks. It was quite fun exploring the U of M, where my brother went to college. Speaking of whom…I had two patients who identified me as “Gian’s brother” as soon as they saw my nametag. Gotta love those small world moments!

    Jen, Me, Jordan, and Braden - I've really enjoyed being with my clinic suitemates this semester.

    Jen, Me, Jordan, and Braden – I’ve really enjoyed being with my clinic suitemates this semester.

    On Tuesdays, I’ve had Vision Therapy in the morning with Drs. Eubank and Kehbein, and then halfway through we switched once again to Low Vision with Dr. Heard. Afternoon Tuesday clinics were spent with Dr. Kehbein and the Peds/VT residents. Two patients come to mind. The first was a 68 year old stroke patient that I saw with Dr. Eubank. Right before the start of the semester, he had suffered a mild stroke, which affected his memory and certain aspects of his visual perception. The week following was his first VT eval, and my first week of clinic was his first week of therapy. Throughout the first half of the semester, we worked on activities that worked on his memory and perception. I think through therapy, he realized that he had these deficits and was slightly in denial of them. However, he kept a good attitude and did the best that he could. Still, his progress from post-stroke to once again driving his familiar routes was quite something to behold, and he did say that the therapy helped.

    My other Tuesday patient has turned into one of my favorites while at SCO. It all started in Pediatrics, when I first met my six year old patient. He is a rambunctious sort and is full of energy. Referred by an occupational therapist concerned about his visual function, we discovered that he has significant oculomotor dysfunction. Thus, the following week, I performed his VT evaluation, and just about every week since he’s been my most constant therapy patient.

    In the beginning, I admit I was overwhelmed. I simply did not have the energy to match his own, nor did I feel creative enough to deal with all that freneticism. But after a few weeks, we started figuring things out together. I’ve learned that he performs much better when we work on activities together, as a team. Since that realization, our therapy sessions have been much more focused, and I am so proud of his progress so far. Just this week, I told him that next week would be my last, and he exclaimed, “Don’t go, ‘gilio!” That’s when it hit me that I’ve grown quite fond of our weekly vision therapy sessions and that I will miss the little guy.

    As a quick aside (as if I ever have quick asides): part of the fun of working with this patient was tailoring the session to his needs and his personality. For example, as he is very active, he cannot sit still for very long for more static and “boring” (his words, not mine!) activites like Hart Chart Near/Far Rock, in which a patient reads a line of letters in the distance and then another line up close, in order to stimulate the accommodative system. So, cognizant of that fact, I came up with a more dynamic Hart Chart by typing up lines of large and small letters. I bound these lines to bean bags with rubber bands. For the procedure, I would have him read the larger line while the bean bag was in my hand, and then when I tossed it to him, he had to catch it and read the line of smaller letters. This activity was quite fun for him, and I was pleased that it actually worked. So, essentially he worked on his accommodative system with the lines and hand/eye coordination with the bean bags, all at once!

    Photo Aug 12, 6 06 53 PM

    Alright, back to the discussion. Wednesdays are my Contact Lens days, and I’ve enjoyed having Dr. Cisarik and Dr. Jackson. It’s almost as if they have been my Contact Lens Mom and Dad. Having never really fit a contact lens before, I was admittedly intimidated by the prospect of it. However, my staff doctors provided much assurance and support, and I feel that I’ve learned so much about the art and science of contact lenses. As far as patients go…since Dr. Jackson has been my staff doctor in the evenings, we often see a lot of specialty fits. Keratoconus, orthokeratology (corneal rehaping), etc – these are just some of the things my group has encountered. I’ve encountered lawyers, other doctors, police officers, old people, young people, all sorts and all walks of life.

    My first insertion and removal training was with a 13 year old male. He reminded me a little bit of me, as I was about that age when I first got contact lenses. Like my younger self, he had difficulty putting them in and taking them out, but got the hang of it. At his follow up exam, he proudly demonstrated that he could take them on and off in seconds and absolutely (and I mean absolutely!) loved his lenses. He made me feel like a superhero, to be honest, as if I had just changed his life. Come to think of it, however, I know mine did after contact lenses, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

    Another memorable patient was about the same age. This was my very first day in contact lens, and I was working with the resident and one of her patients, a 14 year old orphan in less-than-ideal living situations. She too loved her lenses (“These are the only things keeping me happy,” she had told me), but I noticed that her lenses were switched. After mentioning this to the resident, it was elucidated to me that our patient had a history of poor compliance in the training interval with the lenses and likely did not have enough social support to continue wearing them safely. Sadly, I had to take away her lenses (remember, the only things that were keeping her happy). I tried to console her to the best of my ability, but it was little solace to her that I told her that she may be able to try again in East Tennessee when she gets older.

    Oh, did I mention that the very next day she was supposed to move to a new foster home in East Tennessee? Yes, this was probably my most emotional patient encounter yet. It was heartbreaking. I hope she’s doing better.

    Thursdays are my Ocular Disease days in which I alternate biweekly to having Dr. Hauser in the morning and Dr. Sharpe in the afternoon to having Drs. Kabat and Duncan in the same sequence. It’s been great, actually, seeing Ocular Disease from each of their different viewpoints. We’ve seen quite a bit – lots of glaucoma follow-ups, cataract post-ops, and red-eyes. One guy had a massive corneal abrasion but didn’t know how it got there. Another person had such wicked inflammation all over both eyes that we felt the need to refer her out; some systemic issues were likely at play. I haven’t heard yet about what the ophthalmologists have determined, but I hope we were able to catch something early.

    Fridays in Pediatrics with an assortment of staff doctors (Drs. Kehbein, Taub, Bodack, Eubank, Esposito, Ashe, Tison, Harris, all at some point) started out somewhat slowly. Many families went on vacation in May/June. However, once the school year started approaching, the floodgates burst, and soon there were kids everywhere. I haven’t minded, though. I’ve come to enjoy pediatric exams. It’s fun interacting with these kids, and helping those who can’t see actually visualize their world (as I was once helped) is one of the greatest satisfactions so far. The youngest patient I’ve seen was just barely one. Happily, everything was normal. However, Braden saw a one year old who had a rather sudden onset cataract in the right eye. We were perplexed – she had seen an ophthalmologist just weeks before, and everything was fine! The surgeons did remove that cataract, but when one began to develop in the left eye, that baby was referred to a specialist all the way in Phildelphia. We have yet to hear back about the results of that exam.

    Another aside: after putting dilation drops in kids’ eyes, if you don’t want to witness unhappiness, try to get them to forget the pain and stinging by having them do some physical activity. Jumping jacks, spinning around, dancing. I’ve found this an effective method on most (not all!) kids. Thanks to Dr. Bowersox (my staff doctor in SVOSH this year) for that tip, which has been a lifesaver!

    What a memorable semester it’s been, and I can’t believe my time in The Eye Center is almost up. I’ve already begun saying farewell to the wonderful people I’ve been working with ever since first year, in addition to saying “see you later” to the city of Memphis. But yet, the learning will never end (thankfully!), and I am looking forward to my externship at SouthEast Eye Specialists in Chattanooga. But no matter where I go, I’ll always have great memories of my time in clinic at SCO.


    Lisa Russell

    Second Year and the Summer Mini-Term


    Good morning, readers! Now that I’m a few weeks into my summer courses, I figured I would check in and let y’all know what life as a second year optometry student is like. Between the summer break and the fall semester, the second year students have a summer “mini-term.” During this term we take Systemic Pharmacology, Pathology, Evidence Based Medicine, the continuation of our pre-clinic Theory & Methods lab, and a workshop called Foundations of Service Learning. It’s a lot of work packed into a short term, but the lab is a lot of fun and the classes are interesting so it’s been a nice term to come back to after our long break!

    My favorite part about this term is the skills we’ve been learning in our Theory & Methods lab. During first year, this lab was spent mastering chair skills and refraction. Now that we’re comfortable with these skills, we’ve moved on to slit lamp examinations! So far we’re covered corneal exams (anterior segment) and fundoscopy. Fundoscopy involves using the slit lamp and a high powered lens (78D or 90D) to examine the posterior segment of the eye. Getting to evaluate the health of the cornea and the retina for the first time has been an AWESOME reminder of the amazing career waiting for us after graduation. While slit lamp examinations are a tough skill to master, it’s been a lot of fun practicing with my classmates and getting the technique down. I love the process of developing an eye for detail in something when I wouldn’t have even known what I was looking at a week before! In this mini-term, we have a practical every single week so it’s really important to stay on top of practicing these skills. So far, so good though!

    In a couple weeks it will already be time for final exams! We have one week off between the summer and the fall term, part of which will be spent working at the New Student Orientation for the Class of 2018! It’s hard to believe orientation was a full year ago and there’s already a new incoming class. I am really looking forward to meeting the new students and adding more people to the SCO family! Orientation will be a lot of fun and a great way to show the incoming students what SCO is all about.

    Other than the summer term, not a whole lot is new for me! I recently started a new workout class at a gym in Southaven that I am going to at 5:00 AM four mornings a week, so I’ve been getting up much earlier (but getting my mornings off to a great start). Since second year is set up with labs in the morning and lectures in the afternoon, I’ve loved getting my day going early and getting a few things done in the morning (like this blog post!).

    That’s all I’ve got for today, but I’ll be sure to post in a few weeks and let y’all know how orientation went! This is something I’ve been looking forward to since I became a Student Ambassador in the spring, so I’m sure I’ll have a lot to say about it. :-)

    Preslee Trammell

    Hello, Clinic!


    I cannot believe I’m already in my third year of optometry school and starting clinic! Time has really flown by! I had a great two week break after I finished up my second year final exams, and then returned back to Memphis to start in clinic!

    We are in clinic seeing patients two days a week, and working in the optical one day a week. We also still have four classes and a few labs during the week as well. It is amazing how much I have learned in just a few months in clinic. The first day I had in clinic was nerve-racking, exciting,thrilling, and a little scary to be honest!

    They always say you will never forget your first patient, and that is certainly true. My first patient was the sweetest man that reminded me of my grandfather. He was the perfect first patient to have, and luckily, I ran into him a few weeks later when I was working in the optical and he came in to get his glasses adjusted. I recognized him and went up and reintroduced myself and said hello. Once he recognized me, I was taken off guard when he leaned in and gave me the biggest hug. It was a moment that just warmed my heart and made me remember why I love this profession. There is nothing to replace the patient care experiences we get while in clinic at The Eye Center. I’ve seen a variety of patients with diseases such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration,  binocular vision disorders, and patients with simple refractive errors who just need glasses for school or work.

    It really is amazing putting all the things we’ve learned in the first two years of school towards patient care. The staff doctors are so helpful, but challenge you to start thinking what procedures are necessary to make a correct diagnosis and what the appropriate treatment would be. With so many different staff doctors in the clinic, you get to see many different styles of clinical experience when working with all of them. You also get to rotate through the technology department a few times per semester where you learn and perform tests like the OCT, take fundus and anterior segment photos, run visual field tests, and A and B scans. It’s great that we get to work in the optical once a week too. We learn things like how to help patients pick out glasses, figure out insurances, and adjusting glasses. Last week, I even had the opportunity to work in the finishing lab where we make some of the glasses ordered in the optical. It was so cool to see how the lenses are cut. Technology is pretty amazing these days.

    After two years of studying and working on my classmates as patients, it has been a fun summer jumping into the real clinic world. I feel like it was just yesterday when I was starting school at SCO, and now here I am starting my clinical training at The Eye Center. I’ve looked forward to starting in the clinic since I applied to optometry school, and my experience so far definitely has not disappointed!

    Lisa Russell

    Summer Recap


    Well… as I predicted, our last summer break absolutely flew by! I can hardly believe it’s already time to start back up and begin our second year courses. The break may have been quick, but it was definitely eventful! Starting tomorrow, I’ll have some fun second-year events to write about in my blog posts – but for now I’ll recap the events from this summer.

    In my last post, I talked about various events I was able to take part in throughout the first half of the break – including an elementary school career fair, SCO’s graduation ceremony, and the Solutions in Sight event. These events, along with my full-time position at O’Brien Vision Center, kept me busy up until the big trip to Philadelphia for Optometry’s Meeting! Ben and I actually drove to Philly and made an eventful road trip out of it. Our trip included everything from a classmate’s wedding in beautiful North Carolina (congratulations again, Caroline!) to visiting my oldest brother in Washington, DC. We even squeezed an incredible day trip to New York City into the week! The conference itself was awesome. Students had the opportunity to attend all Continuing Education courses free of charge, so that was something that I definitely took advantage of. I spent my time at the convention center listing to brilliant ODs at CE lectures, volunteering at SCO’s exhibit hall booth, and learning a lot about what’s going on in the world of optometry. Some of my favorite parts of the trip included the Student Bowl (which was a blast) and being able to do some awesome sight-seeing in Philadelphia. Of course I had to try a Philly Cheesesteak – I would definitely recommend Jim’s Steaks. :-)

    A few days after I returned home from my eventful road trip, my sister and her boyfriend came to Memphis to visit and to spend the 4th of July with Ben and me. We had fun doing some sight-seeing in Memphis with them and watching the fireworks from Beale Street. Once they left to head back to Texas, it was already time to get ready for the Student Ambassador Summer Retreat! The retreat was this weekend and it was a blast. We did some fun team-building activities and spent the whole weekend on a beautiful lake in Arkansas. Getting to know each other better and becoming closer as a group was the perfect way to spend our last “free” weekend. Unfortunately, we had to pack up this morning and head back to Memphis – and now it’s time to start preparing for the summer mini-term which starts tomorrow!

    I’ve heard that second year flies by even faster than first year did – so I’ll probably be “recapping” second year before I know it! Wish the Class of 2017 luck as we take on a new semester. :-)


    a1 a2 a3 a4

    Amy Puerto

    Holy Philly Cheesesteaks, OM2014!


    Hello Blogosphere!

    Special summer greetings to you all from Optometry’s Meeting 2014! This has been my first trip to Philadelphia, PA, and it’s not disappointed. My schedule has been packed with meetings, and I’ve enjoyed every moment representing Southern College of Optometry. This was my first OM since transitioning out as SCO’s AOSA Trustee, but I’ve still found a way to add on the extra responsibilities of AOSA National Delegate and National Liaison of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry to my conference agenda. I also made my first conference speaking debut! The AOA’s President’s Council invited me to speak on a panel to discuss my opinions on how to promote transitioning AOSA membership to state associations and the AOA. I looking forward to many more speaking engagements to come!


    Meetings aside, OM never fails to be a fun event…the National Student Bowl, social and networking events, delish hors d’oeuvres, free OD CE, celebrity sightings, awards and comedic performances. Yep, OM is a nonstop blast!

    This year I had the added bonus of receiving a travel grant from HOYA to attend OM2014. My digital case report was on HOYA’s SYNC lenses as a therapy to alleviate Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). My report was one of 23 winning case reports nationally recognized with a travel grant.

    And if being in the City of Brotherly Love wasn’t enough, my baby brother joined me for this optometry conference too! Since the lil’ bro is on summer vacation from undergrad, I thought what better way for him to see what his cool big sis does in her daily life than expose him to our little-big world of optometry. And guess what… In the first 30 minutes of his conference experience, my brother had already met all the big SCO, AOA, and AOSA leaders–does this kid not just have a knack for networking or what?!


    And let’s not forget the history—oh history–of Philadelphia! In between my packed schedule, I was able to carve out pockets of time to visit Constitution Hall, the Liberty Bell, even the very stair steps that Sylvester Stallone jogged up in his famous “Rocky” scene. Can someone say Da-da-dum, da-da-dum?! What an exhilarating feeling to walk the very cobblestone streets our Founding Fathers strode themselves…maybe a little Ben Franklin wisdom imparted itself on me, I mean he was the inventor of the bifocal after all ;)

    I hope you enjoyed some of the photos that captured yet another great Optometry’s Meeting. It was great catching up with my optometry friends and family across the U.S.! Next up Seattle for OM2015…

    Carpe Diem,


    Virgilio Gozum

    Waxing Wistful


    Going to be honest here. Most of this blog post was written right after the end of spring semester. For one reason or another, however, I never fully connected all my thoughts together. First, after finals I went to the spring TAOP meeting in Florida. Then, I began the process of moving to a new apartment. Next, I had an awesome time in Merida, Mexico, for SVOSH, and now I’m in the middle of my career as a fourth year intern at SCO. Time whooshes by, and if I’m not careful the summer will pass by without a word from me here.

    But let’s talk about what I meant to say before I got distracted by…everything. I wanted to talk about the Class of 2015.

    It’s interesting to see how far we’ve come since the very beginning.  Scattered strangers were we before the fall of 2011. From California to Nova Scotia we hailed, scarcely aware that roughly 130 other souls would soon cross paths with ours.

    Suffice it to say that a lot has happened since then for the Class of 2015. Lectures and practicals led to school screenings, which soon gave way to checkouts and clinic. Part I of the NBEO followed our initial clinical experiences, and now here we are: 4th years,  externs, almost-doctors.

    How did we get here so quickly? Where did all the time go? These are questions everybody has been asking recently, and there really is no good answer. No matter what, however, it is supremely evident than none of us got to this point by ourselves. Everyone has had a little help from their friends, fellow 2015ers who have helped carry the burdens of optometry school.

    My summer group, I can confidently tell you, is pretty awesome. We will soon be preparing for Part III of  boards (the clinical one, in Charlotte, North Carolina) together. However, roughly 90 other classmates are right now elsewhere. While I definitely miss many, many people in my class (more than I can mention here!), certain people come to mind for purposes of this blog post. Allow me to introduce you to just a small sample of the people in my class who have made these past few years some of the most memorable thus far.

    The Nerds

    I’m not sure if in my head I’ve ever formally named this group of people, but I’ve always associated them in the same circle relative to me. But this group, consisting of Mark, Jordan, Maddie, Kaitlin, and Kelly, is a nerdy one, and proudly so. (My kind of group!) So, I am now retroactively calling this group The Nerds, at least in my head.

    Have you seen the Lego Movie? “Everything is awesome?!” is a phrase in that movie, which I saw with The Nerds plus my roommate Andy. Indeed, we have had many legendary game nights and a few trivia nights with some assortment of this group, and everything was in fact awesome.

    After that movie, we all headed to a Ben and Jerry’s nearby and spent nearly an two hours enjoying each other’s company. Checkers was played, piano keys were tickled, songs were sung. As Mark, Andy, and I burst into “Do You Hear the People Sing” from Les Mis, I wistfully realized that such fun, spontaneous outings with my classmates would soon be a thing of the past. Future gatherings will have to be planned out, and this sentiment has weighed heavily in my thoughts of late.

    The Gang

    Carissa, Aaron, Jessica, Alanna, and Kaeli. I have spent a lot of time with these people; they’re among my closest friends in my class. This is quite an active group – I’ve played many a sport with some combination of these people: Frisbee, tennis, basketball, volleyball, flag football. We’ve celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving together. We’ve also participated in many school events, as well. All except for Aaron have participated in SVOSH at least once, and Alanna and Kaeli were SVOSH officers with me. Also, I have been involved in TAOP with this group (with the exception of Kaeli), and we have attended many events for the future of our profession.

    I will sorely miss the proximity of this group as fourth year continues. Our friendships are an honest, simple, genuine kind, the sort that you look for in lifelong friendships. I’m glad to have them.

    The Bros

    The regular absence of three particular classmates in my life will be most painfully felt on a daily basis: my brothers, Pinto, Michael, and roommate Andy. Oh goodness, how I miss these three. We’ve seriously run the full gamut of optometry school friendship. From practical practicing to last-minute test preparations to TAOP/SVOSH/RAM events to Eye Balls and eyeballs, we’ve survived and done it all together.

    We’ve played the same combination of sports as noted above with The Gang. We’ve lost our voices cheering for the Grizzlies. We’ve run the Urban Dare scavenger hunt, and Pinto and I were a Main Street and a balloon sword away from winning this year’s after placing third last time. We’ve celebrated new love and supported each other through heartache. I honestly cannot imagine optometry school without my bros.

    I remember when I met these three. Andy had posted to my Facebook wall and asked if I really did speak 21 languages, as Facebook suggests. Eventually we talked about becoming roommates, and looking back, I have never been more thankful for a Facebook post. As for Pinto and Michael, I met them at some first year orientation pool party when we noticed that all the Asians in our class were somehow standing in a circle. We talked of our common experiences at UT schools, and we’ve been friends since. Now, here we are, fourth year externs at SCO in different semesters: me in the summer, Michael in the fall, and Andy and Pinto in the spring. At least we had an awesome time saving vision in Mexico for SVOSH!

    As I dwell on these things in my too-quiet apartment, I take note of an important distinction between high school/undergraduate friendships and those made during optometry school. Friendships made before optometry school form the foundation upon which other connections later in life are built. However, there is a key difference: optometry school friends will also be colleagues as optometric physicians. That in itself is a link that will continue to connect all of us and will help sustain our professional careers in the future. We won’t just be friends in the future, we will all be optometrists, and darn good ones at that.

    Thus it was true, that scattered strangers were we in the fall of 2011…but scattered friends and colleagues we will be for a lifetime after graduation in the spring of 2015. So here’s to you, Class of 2015. Thanks for all the memories these past few years, and good luck with the rest of this final year of our adventure called optometry school.

    I get by with a little help from my friends.

    I get by with a little help from my friends.

    Lisa Russell

    Summer Events


    Hello, readers! It’s hard to believe our summer break is already halfway over. Between working full time, planning my trip to Philadelphia for Optometry’s Meeting, and volunteering at various events at SCO, the weeks have been flying by. My brain is enjoying the temporary study break, but I’m sure by the time our summer mini-semester rolls around next month I’ll be excited and ready to go back to school!

    My position at work has turned out to be the perfect summer job. I’m working at the same private practice I have worked at every Saturday since last summer, but I have more responsibilities now and it’s been a really great experience for me. In addition to my regular patient pre-testing duties, I’m getting to do a little more hands-on work with the patients and I am also working in the optical selling/dispensing/repairing/ordering glasses. It has been a perfect opportunity for me to experience different aspects of the office on different days and to get a better idea of what going into private practice would be like. It’s a busy and fast-paced office with a great system and great doctors, and I just love it. I have worked for a few optometrists in the past - but never in a private practice setting. I know I’ll be happy to have some extra experience later on when I start planning what type of practice I want to go into myself!

    I have one day off work each week, and I’ve been spending that day off volunteering at different events to help out at SCO since a lot of my classmates aren’t in town for the summer and the 3rd and 4th year students are already back in school. The week after final exams I volunteered at the Class of 2014′s graduation. That was an exciting day for everyone and it was fun to see so many proud families and happy graduates at the ceremony! The following week I worked at an elementary school career fair with one of my classmates who is also a Student Ambassador, Evan. Evan and I had a lot of fun talking to the students and teaching them about being an optometrist. The students had a lot of questions and they absolutely loved the demos and model eyes we brought with us. The whole day was a blast and I’m looking forward to the next time I get to work at a career fair! Hopefully Evan and I inspired some of the third and fourth graders to consider optometry down the road. :-)

    This past week, I was able to help out at the Success in Sight event at SCO. This event is a way for juniors and seniors in high school to get an idea of what optometry and optometry school are all about. They got to learn a lot about vision and even how to perform some basic procedures on each other. Since these students are in the time period now where they’re starting to think about college and majors, it was the perfect way to introduce them to a great career option for the future. They seemed to really enjoy the event and hopefully a few years down the road they will consider applying to optometry school!

    Now Optometry’s Meeting is only a few weeks away and I couldn’t be more excited! This trip will be extra special for me because in addition to visiting Philadelphia and attending the meeting, I’ll be stopping in both North Carolina for one of my good friend/classmate’s wedding AND in DC to visit two of my brothers and my precious nephew on the way. It’ll be a long drive, but the whole trip should be a blast. I’m sure I’ll have tons to write about after the meeting, so look out for a long post next month. ;-) Also – best of luck to Trent who is representing SCO at the Varilux Student Bowl in Philadelphia!

    I hope everyone’s been having a wonderful summer! Thanks for reading!

    Amy Puerto

    The Beginning of Externs!


    Life is good, blogosphere!

    Okay, let’s start with some highly anticipated news…I passed Part 1 of Boards!!! Can you believe it!? The past three years have been so busy balancing both my academics and my leadership endeavors, passing this exam has been a real time-management-icing-on-the-cake-feat. Even more exciting is that my classmate, Jessica Haynes, achieved THE HIGHEST SCORE NATIONALLY on Part 1! She outscored over 1600 students–what an achievement! My classmates did really well on this first of three Boards exams, and I couldn’t be more proud of our collective accomplishments. After taking the exam back in March, and then waiting nearly two months for the scores to be released, I’d say we all deserve a big scoop of ice-cream, or at the least some  good quality Memphis fro-yo at YOLO :)

    With Part 1 checked off my to-do list and Parts 2 and 3 scheduled for December and August, this all could mean one thing….it’s fourth year, baby!  Time has truly flown by way too fast; It’s like I was just a measly first year only yesterday…can you imagine those blog posts from back in the day?

    Speaking of 4th year, I finished my first week of externships at SCO’s The Eye Center. Each day I rotate through one of the following clinics: Ocular Disease, Pediatrics, Adult Primary Care or practice at the University Eye Care clinic at University of Memphis, Low Vision or Vision Therapy, and Contact Lens. Each day was packed with patients! I was introduced to new technology, including the completely automated phoropters and Optos retinal camera in Adult Primary Care, to experimenting with the latest in contact lens designs from dailies to sclerals. It’s like I went away for a week to Haiti and BOOM, I’m a fourth year and expected to be more efficient, knowledgeable, and prepared to meet the increasing number of patient encounters I see daily. While I’ll be the first to admit I’m struggling to keep up, my staff doctors have been supportive and instructive, so I welcome the challenge that’s ahead for me.

    Check back for more updates soon. This is my last summer in Memphis, so you know there’s going to be a lot in store :)

    Carpe Diem,