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Recent Posts

  • What Happened to September?
  • Midterm Week 1 + Convocation
  • When the Scales Fall from Our Eyes
  • Externship Round 2
  • Welcome, Class of 2018!
  • Dear First Years
  • Texas
  • Summer in Memphis
  • First Week in Memphis
  • And then…there was Part 3

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  • Liz Frontino

    What Happened to September?


    Whew! First of all, let me apologize for taking so long to write my second blog post. The past few months have been a total whirlwind. From the moment we started orientation, it seems like time has flown! Between classes, clubs, and meeting new people, my time has been very filled.

    To start, let me say congratulations to my fellow classmates on making it through our first midterm week! SCO has implanted a new testing week policy, where we take all of our tests for all classes in one week rather than spreading them out over the semester. We will have two midterm weeks and a finals week this semester, and while the first one was definitely exhausting, I think we all did better than we expected and will use the experience as a learning opportunity going forward. All of the classes that we are taking as first years are an equal mixture of overwhelming, difficult, incredibly interesting, and fulfilling. It’s so exciting to finally learn about the underlying basics of optometry. I feel like my background has already become so much more complex in the past few weeks, and it’s very rewarding when connections are made between lecture material and real-world applications of optometry.

    Last week, my classmates and I officially became the Class of 2018 as we received our white coats and stated the Optometric Students’ Oath. Coming into our Theory and Methods lab this week and wearing our white coats while we practiced our chair skills was incredibly exciting. I definitely feel like I’m becoming a clinician. Although we have only begun the basics of an eye exam, it is very fun to be able to interact with classmates in a patient-doctor type scenario. It makes me incredibly excited that this is my chosen career.

    In terms of activities other than classes (which take up a lot of time, believe me!) I have also started a work-study position in The Eye Center. I am working with Clinical Operations, preparing student charts for various school screenings. I love being able to see some of the behind-the-scenes work that goes on at the Eye Center, and it’s nice to get to know the Center before we actually begin clinic there. I have also joined the Lion’s Club and Gamma Omicron, a group focusing on women optometrists. I am amazed by the amount of activities available for students at SCO, and I know I will only continue to get more and more involved as I go forward in my optometry student career.

    I think that’s all for now! I will write in a few more weeks with some specifics about classes and labs. I have also done a lot more exploring in Memphis and will share some things that I have found to be fun. Until next time!

    Lisa Russell

    Midterm Week 1 + Convocation


    Happy Friday, readers!

    I figured I should dedicate a post to one of the hottest topics on campus right now: midterm weeks. This is the first semester of “block” midterm weeks here at SCO. What this means for us is that instead of our exams being scattered randomly throughout the semester for each course, we actually have dedicated midterm weeks during which we have an exam in every single class (kind of like final exams week, except three times per semester). Based on my own opinion and the opinions of my classmates, there are pros and cons to this new exam schedule. One of the major benefits is that we don’t have regular lectures scheduled during the exam weeks. We still have our labs in the mornings, but the afternoons are reserved for exams ONLY. This is great, because it means that there is no new lecture information coming in during midterm week. This keeps us from getting behind in material that will be covered on the following exam when we’re busy studying for the current exams. Another advantage to our new schedule is that studying this way should help us down the road when we are getting ready to prepare for our National Board Exams. It (hopefully) will help with our time management and productivity when studying large amounts of material at one time.

    As for the aspects of the new schedule that we don’t love quite as much, there’s the obvious downside: seven exams in one week is a LOT. Our first midterm week was two weeks ago and it was definitely tough. My class had our pharmacology exam on Monday, our binocular vision exam on Tuesday, our pathology AND optometric practice exams on Wednesday, our theory/methods AND ophthalmic optics exams on Thursday, and our pediatrics exam on Friday. By the time Friday afternoon rolled around, we all felt (and looked) a little bit like zombies. The schedule also makes it a little more difficult to spend a lot of time focusing on one class, and I worry that I may not be retaining quite as much of the information since so much of the studying happens in such a short period of time.

    Overall, we are all adjusting to the new schedule the best we can! While it would be ideal for us if the midterm week staggered a weekend or if we didn’t have labs and school screenings during midterm week, I’m sure we will soon adjust and won’t be able to believe that our midterms were ever administered in a different way! I’ve heard from my friends at other institutions that this schedule grows on you quickly and that you actually come to love it. I’ll post again at the end of the semester and let y’all know what the general consensus is at that point!

    Another big thing that has been going on at SCO recently is that our White Coat Ceremony / Convocation was last weekend! A big congratulations to the Class of 2018 on their exciting ceremony. It seems like just yesterday that my class was walking across the stage and signing the Optometric Student Oath in our brand new white coats. This is such an exciting time for the first year students and I am looking forward to watching them grow into the wonderful clinicians that I know they will be! At the ceremony, I was extremely honored to be presented with a First Year Basic Sciences excellence award and a beautiful engraved plaque for my academic achievements during first year. Clinical Sciences awards and various scholarships were also awarded to other members of my class as well as members of the classes of 2016 and 2015. The ceremony is an exciting day for everybody and it’s always so wonderful to see the SCO community come together and celebrate!

    As a Student Ambassador, I had the opportunity to help out at the ceremony and to volunteer at the Graceland tour with friends and alumni of SCO the following day. I had actually never been to Graceland before, so it was an awesome opportunity for me! In addition to learning a ton about Elvis and seeing his home, I also got to meet some pretty awesome people at the tour. It was an exciting and busy weekend and it absolutely flew by. I’m sure before I know it, it will already be time for the Class of 2019 to get their white coats. :-)

    That’s all I have for today! Thanks for reading and I hope everyone has a great weekend!



    When the Scales Fall from Our Eyes


    As we journey from adolescence, through high school, and into the soul-searching collegiate era of life, we formulate our own version of a honey-glazed “what I want to be when I’m older.”  Many of us are persuaded by the glamor, prestige, financial stability, flexibility, or simply by the only thing we know how to do. For myself, I knew I wanted a career where my mental fibers would stay firm, my time would be worth enough to provide for a healthy home, my weekdays would end with a taste of fulfillment, and I could give my family the time and attention they deserve.
    At the moment, the road through SCO resembles the agony of Sisyphus and his longing to cross over the forever-fading peak. I see the upperclassmen, all-smiles as they wear the hope of a tasseled cap throughout the clinic. How grand it must be to savor near victory? But even with this motivation, the looming days remain daunting, which can only mean we are what we should be… human. But a brighter future is there even when we can’t see it.

    The daily grind in this modern age seems to drain me more than the ruthless humidity of past high school afternoons.  On many evenings, I feel like a wave tossed about on the ocean surf… longing for the shore and hopeful for steady ground. But in this understanding, I have found that the heaviest yoke of the day results in the softest bed at night. When our efforts seem exhausted is also when we are the most open to change. I believe in change, in forward motion, in pursuing a calling, in surrendering your status quo…

    Before my endeavors here at SCO, I was unaware of the many aspects leaving home had to offer; some wonderful, some difficult. Without a hint of doubt, this present journey has been one of transformation and sanctification. The personal development and insight that has come so unexpectedly, reminds me how much we learn when we are pushed to the precipice. But to gain these innovative qualities we must sacrifice, something that isn’t easy. Our backbones solidify with every ounce of dripping effort required of us, which prepares us for the “real world.”

    My personal struggles are slowly becoming illuminated verities. A longing for home and its sweet familiarity, the weight of a long distance relationship, and the hardest mental push of my life have radical developed my “What I want to be…” into “Who I want be…” What you are doesn’t matter as much as who you are. This truth will never leave my mind.

    Even with my life residing in Memphis, and my heart still back in the Georgia clay, I can’t say that I regret coming here. These are the days that produce perseverance and professionalism deeper than our white coats. The difficulties of the present will multiply happiness in the future. I stand confident in my decision to continue pushing hard, and I hope that you can say the same about your life, here and now.

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    Amy Puerto

    Externship Round 2


    Happy fall blogosphere!

    It’s exciting in the life and times of Amy Puerto. I’m almost one month down into my second externship rotation, and I’ve already learned so much! I’m currently working at the Eye Care Centers (ECC) of Kentucky, a large private practice with 8 satellite offices across central and eastern Kentucky. In one day I participated in a optometrist-preformed YAG laser procedure, foreign body removal, punctual plug insertion, a slew of glaucoma diagnostic tests, and  many, MANY red eye cases. My patients have ranged from toddlers to 91 year olds, and everything in between.

    I’m amazed at the change of pace going from my SCO rotation to my private practice rotation. I saw a variety of patients each day at SCO, and there was tons of pathology, but I’ve really had to step up my patient care to match the volume and pace of the ECC….that in itself has been an unmatched education! Also, since this is a large practice, I have the extra benefit to work with six other optometrists throughout the week. Learning their various practice and patient management techniques has been invaluable. If that’s not enough, a retina specialist and cataract surgeon rotate through the practice every other week, which offers me even greater networking and observation opportunities with our ophthalmology counterparts.

    After three weeks in my private practice rotation, I can confidently say SCO gave me an excellent foundation to manage ocular pathology and to assess visual complaints well beyond the lecture hall or The Eye Center. I feel competent in patient care, and I’m excited to see how I grow as a clinician in optometric skills and knowledge each day this semester.

    Now that applying for residency is right around the corner, I thought I’d share an article I wrote on the topic for the  national student optometry publication Foresight. Here’s a like to the online version: http://www.theaosa.org/all-about-residencies/

    Last, but not least, welcome to Memphis SCO Class of 2018…time will fly!

    Carpe Diem,


    Lisa Russell

    Welcome, Class of 2018!


    Good morning, readers! Last time I wrote I was just a few weeks into the second year summer mini-term, and now I’m one week into the regular fall semester. Besides taking different courses and labs, there is one major difference between the summer term and the fall term: the presence of a first year class! Even though we became second year students as soon as we finished our spring finals in May, it didn’t REALLY feel like it until there was a first year class on campus as well. We finally feel like we’re not at the “bottom of the food chain,” and that we can help out the first year students the same way the class of 2016 helped us one year ago. Having a brand new class of 136 students here is a nice reminder of the INCREDIBLE amount of information and clinical skills we have learned since we were in their shoes one year ago. It is truly amazing to think about how far we’ve come in one year. I wish the best of luck to the class of 2018 as they take on this exciting adventure and I hope they know how excited we all are to have them join the SCO family this semester.

    Because of my role as a Student Ambassador, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of the first year students at New Student Orientation and through campus tours. I remember how nervous and excited I was before my class’ orientation events, and I loved being on the other side this year and being able to help answer questions and make the students feel more comfortable about their transition into optometry school. I could hardly believe that it had been a year since I was sitting in the lecture hall with my class for the first time.

    Besides welcoming the class of 2018 to SCO, there has been a lot going on for my class this week. Our fall schedule is packed full with courses, labs, and school screenings. It’ll be a busy semester, but I think it will be a fun one! We are about to start learning BIO in our pre-clinic lab and the school screenings give us the opportunity to work with REAL patients and to fine-tune our first year skills. As we embark on learning the rest of our major clinical skills, I am constantly reminded that in only eight months we’ll be over in the clinic seeing our very own patients! This is such an exciting time and I know that second year will fly by just like first year did. Between courses/labs, involvement in student organizations, and other various extracurricular activities, I’m thinking it’ll be Christmas Break before I know it.

    Once again – CONGRATULATIONS to the Class of 2018! Enjoy your time as a first year student because it will absolutely fly. :-)

    Virgilio Gozum

    Dear First Years


    Dear First Years,

    I know I’m not the first to say it recently, but it never hurts to say it again: Congratulations on starting this new adventure in your life – optometry school! I’m sure it’s also been said, too, but welcome to Southern College of Optometry, Class of 2018.

    This is such an exciting time for you all, and many good memories lie ahead of you. Why, I remember back in the day when I was a first year, fresh-eyed and with a brand new, shiny trial lens kit, duffel bag full of thick textbooks. I remember it just like yesterday. In a sense, I suppose it was just yesterday…yesterday is a relative term. But here I am, already a third of the way through my fourth year.  It will fly by extremely quickly, I guarantee it.

    So how does one make most of this blink of an eye called optometry school? I am by no means a definitive scholar on the subject, but I may have a modicum of experience to empart to you:

    1) There’s 135 others in your class, and roughly 300ish older students on campus right now. Learn from them, and learn from their eyes! I’m not very good at math, but 435 x 2 eyes = a lot of eyes to learn from. You – we – are all in this together, so don’t be afraid to ask for help from your fellow eye enthusiasts.

    2) On that note…your faculty members will one day be your colleagues, so ask as many questions as you can right at the very beginning. Their experience and knowledge is invaluable, so don’t be shy.

    3) Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, less-than-desirable exam scores, or partly botched practicals. It will happen and they will come. Just dust yourself off, learn from it, and move on. And repeat 1) and 2) when these things happen.

    4) Get involved! There are so many ways to be active on campus, and joining different interests and clubs will greatly improve your knowledge of our career. There exist so many venues for learning about optometry outside of the classroom. Enrich yourself with these different perspectives.

    5) At the same time, you have to be balanced. Don’t overstretch yourself too much; pacing is key. As Dr. James Newman told my class during Theory and Methods: “Optometry school ain’t no sprint; it’s a marathon.” Speaking of running…exercise for your health and sanity.

    6) You are in Memphis. Memphis, Memphis, magnificent Memphis. My favorite city on the planet. You are now here at a very interesting time in the history of Memphis, to be honest. The city is undergoing what is best described as a Renaissance, with hotspots of growth and future growth all over the city. But I shan’t mention any specifics here – go out in this wonderful city and explore. Volunteer. Be a Memphian.

    You all will soon get your white coats. In the next minute you’ll be wearing that white coat, nervously sitting in a conference room with your lab group in The Eye Center, waiting for your pre-clinical checkouts. Almost no time at all will pass before you see your first patient, and in a tachistoscopic (you’ll learn what this means) flash you’ll be taking boards and graduating. Here I am, somewhere between these last two events, looking back at where you all are now. Where I was once. Enjoy this chapter in your life, with eyes wide open – blink, and you’ll miss it!

    Cordially, with a hint of nostalgia,
    Virgilio Gozum

    “Time flies like an arrow.  Fruit flies like a banana.”
    -Groucho Marx, supposedly

    Amy Puerto



    Hello Blogosphere!

    It’s been a busy August–I took Part 3 of National Boards, finished my summer externship at SCO, moved out of Memphis, and moved into my new apartment in Richmond, KY for my second externship rotation. Again, did I say it was busy?!

    In the midst of all this hustle-and-bustle, I found my way to Fort Worth, Texas for the Excellence in Eye Care conference. Hosted by Alcon, a pharmaceutical and contact lens manufacturer, the event sponsored 50 4th year students from across the optometry schools to learn more about the contact lens industry and Alcon’s products. I was able to tour the manufacturing plant where contact lens solutions like Clear Care and Opti-Free are produced. The company also provided the attendees practice management pearls for contact lens wear and patient compliance. I met several engaging speakers who have a wealth of knowledge in regards to private practice and industry partnerships. When I shared my interest for working with industry and being a speaker within the optometric profession, one of the event coordinators even requested my CV! Of course,  students were also able to enjoy some down time in the evenings including square dancing along Sundance Square, chowing down on some classic TexMex fare, and even watching some bull riding down at the famous BillyBob’s Stockyards! It was definitely hot in Texas, but seeing a familiar watering hole in Fort Worth, the Flying Saucer, was definitely an ode to good ole’ Memphis.

    I look forward to updating you all soon on my first week of my private practice rotation in Richmond, KY!

    Carpe Diem,


    Summer in Memphis


    After a grueling six weeks of academia, my saturated mind has rediscovered a foreign activity known as “life”. For the mini summer semester here at SCO, my colleagues and I discovered a vital life lesson that may have unlocked an area of the brain that was once, I believe, unknown to man. The ability to balance sanity and information intake (of ludicrous proportions) has become a powerful tool on our utility belts of entrepreneurship. Like all situations of life, nothing great can come by way of ease.

    Once the mini term was over, my roommate and I went down Madison Avenue to enjoy the juiciest pulled-pork BBQ this country has to offer. The Bar-B-Q Shop is a traditional favorite after finals are completed and was a great place to celebrate my birthday at the same time. Nothing can satisfy a growling stomach like a platter of hot and savory pulled pork complemented by a sweet and chilled coleslaw dish. But this was only the beginning of many fortunes. Finally having enough time to find a decent barber, I decided to give Sports Clips, a local chain of Memphis and Southaven, a try. Not only did I receive a haircut, but also a free face, head, neck, and upper back massage with a steamed towel, shampooing, the works… I ended this glorious day by geeking out in Best Buy and getting the apartment ready for my parents to arrive later that night.

    While my parents were in town, we attended a Red Birds’ game at AutoZone Park, dined at the Majestic Grille on Main Street, visited the Botanical Gardens, and toured the exotic Memphis Zoo. Between the ballpark organ sounding for a home run and the mighty panda bear gnawing on a bamboo stalk, Memphis is definitely a place to get out and relax. But now it is time to prepare for the upcoming fall semester, and I must get back to my work study here at the bookstore. God bless you as the fall approaches, and I hope one summer you can find yourself in Memphis.

    2014-08-24_22-09-39_1582014-08-24_22-00-15_213 2014-08-24_17-51-09_992 2014-08-25_15-35-35_5192014-08-26_15-45-15_2242014-08-22_12-09-17_778


    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,