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Recent Posts

  • Presidents’ Council 2015
  • Happy New Year!
  • Week 1 Fun
  • Happy Holidays!
  • Fall in Rewind
  • American Academy of Optometry Meeting in Denver
  • One Year Later
  • Chattanooga Chew Chew
  • What Happened to September?
  • Midterm Week 1 + Convocation

  • January 2015
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  • Amy Puerto

    Presidents’ Council 2015


    Hello Blogosphere!

    I hope the weather is a bit warmer for you than in my area—we keep getting one bout of winter weather after the other.

    I recently returned from St. Louis where I accepted an invitation to speak on behalf of the AOSA at Presidents’ Council. What an experience! Presidents’ Council is a three-day mini conference where optometry’s state association presidents and executive directors convene to discuss the challenges facing state boards, optometry, and state organizations within each U.S. state. There were representatives from the AOA Board of Trustees and AFOS (representing uniformed/military optometrists) there as well. The weekend is full of motivational speakers, one-one-one chats with AOA Trustees, and presentations made by optometry’s affiliate organizations.  Talk about networking!

    Of particular importance at this meeting was how to better capture the student transition rates from AOSA to the AOA after graduation. Since the AOSA president and AOSA executive council were attending their own Board of Trustees meeting that same weekend, I was asked by the AOSA Board to speak on students’ behalf. What an honor to represent such a standout group of optometric future leaders—of course I couldn’t say no! My role was to share AOSA’s commitment to help engage student membership in the AOA after graduation, especially as students find employment in different states. I was the last speaker on the last day of the conference to present—no pressure! I knew there was a lot riding on my shoulders to represent ‘the future doctors and leaders of optometry, and I hoped to convey AOSA’s message of passion for optometry, advocacy, and initiative.

    My externship at Walter Reed continues to be going very well. I’m feeling more independent each day in my patient care as graduation looms a few months away. To top it all off, I found out this week that I officially passed all three parts of optometry’s national boards exams! I guess that means I can take a little break from studying for a while—well, at least until my state licensure exams in July!

    Girls' Night for Walter Reed Externs

    Girls’ Night for Walter Reed Externs

    Congrats to the Class of 2015 for passing NBEO Parts 1, 2, and 3! Stay warm!

    Carpe Diem,


    Amy Puerto

    Happy New Year!


    Happy New Year, Blogosphere!

    There’s nothing like the New Year to get you motivated for a fresh start and excited for the future—and I can tell this year is going to be one for the books! In four months, my long awaited, hard-earned, era of optometry school will have concluded. You read that right readers, this is it—2015—optometry school graduation is upon us! Now it’s time for lots and lots of preparation for the next leg in my journey.

    Each day brings more and more good news from my classmates securing their first job placements. As for me, I’m applying to residencies and fellowships for the upcoming year. These programs offer selected students an opportunity to get advanced clinical training in a specific area of optometry like pediatrics, ocular disease, or specialty contact lenses. There are over 11 specialties for graduates to choose from. I finished the application process earlier this month and have secured interviews at all of the sites I applied to!  That makes for a lot of travel over the next two months, since residency matching takes place the first week of March. Fortunately, I’m completing my last externship in a suburb of Washington, D.C., which puts me in close proximity to three international airports.

    Speaking of my externship, I’m currently on my last rotation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The medical hospital is the main departure point and reentry center for active service men, women, and their families. It also services our retired military men and women, current foreign diplomats, our national political and military leaders, etc. A White House official needing multifocal contact lenses? Well, that’s all in a day’s work! Serving in a hospital setting offers new insight into a different healthcare setting, especially with the electronic records all interconnected to the other hospital service areas. What I’ve discovered is I can easily know exactly the diagnoses and treatments the patients have been receiving beyond the optometry clinic. The process of patient care record keeping  is much more streamlined and efficient. I’ll have more details about my rotation and the many opportunities I get to take part in (think medically-necessary contact lens fits and lectures at the National Eye Institute at the National Institute of Health) in my next blog.  Since I am not in the military, this rotation is fulfilling a greater purpose for me—one in which I am able to give back to the men, women, and their families who have sacrificed so much to protect our nation.

    Stay tuned to my upcoming blog post, and enjoy the holiday photos from December!

    Carpe Diem,


    Lisa Russell

    Week 1 Fun

    We’re only one week into our spring semester but I can already tell it’s going to be a good one! Since this is our last term before we start seeing patients at The Eye Center, we learn a lot this semester that is very important and very clinical. We spent first year and some of second year learning the foundation behind everything that we are learning now, which involves being able to determine what is normal, what isn’t, and what treatment course to take for different types of abnormalities. This exciting clinical emphasis is present in both lecture and in lab this semester. Lecture includes courses in treating diseases in the anterior and posterior segments of the eye, a course focusing on contact lenses, a vision therapy course, ocular pharmacology, and a review course on general optometric theory and methods. We’ll be learning tons about diseases, drugs, treatments, therapy, contact lenses, glasses, and how all of these things tie together!

    All of the information we’ll be covering in our courses correlates with clinical skills we’ll be learning to perform in our labs. There are a lot of exciting things to learn and this semester will be our last time spent doing all of these different procedures on each other – soon we’ll be working with real patients in the clinic! My lab group has our “clinical internship introduction” lab on Monday mornings. This lab consists of school screenings all across Shelby County, shadowing student doctors, and other various clinical experiences in the community. It’s a valuable way to apply our skills in different ways and get an idea of what it will be like when we’re working with our patients. Three of our other labs this semester (anterior segment, posterior segment, and theory & methods) take place in our pre-clinical labs. This is good news for us, because it means we are learning lots of new exam techniques and perfecting the skills we have already learned! By the end of this semester we’ll be able to tie the information from all of these labs together and perform a full comprehensive eye exam. Our anterior segment lab even includes our injection procedures which will be exciting (and maybe a little scary at first!) to learn. Our last two labs, contact lenses and vision therapy, will involve learning important skills that will be directly applied and used every day in the Contact Lenses & Vision Therapy suites in The Eye Center. I am personally really excited about these two because they are both areas of optometry that we haven’t learned many clinical skills in yet, so it will be a lot of new things to learn.

    Between our courses and labs and practicing for our Pre-Clinic Checkouts in April, we’re in for another busy semester. A few short months from now, I’ll have some actual clinical experience to talk about – and I couldn’t be more excited! Thanks for reading and I’ll check in again soon.

    Lisa Russell

    Happy Holidays!


    Well… another semester has absolutely flown by! I can’t believe my class is already halfway through our second year at SCO. This semester has been challenging but full of exciting new knowledge and skills. The most exciting part of this semester for me was the number of new clinical skills we learned in our Theory & Methods lab. We began the semester finishing up with our Fundoscopy skills that we learned over the summer mini-semester, and by the time finals rolled around last week we had learned to perform Binocular Indirect Ophthlamoscopy (the big kahuna!), Tonometry, Gonioscopy, and other various skills. Juggling learning and practicing these clinical skills along with keeping up with our seven courses was difficult, but we all made it through and now we are one step closer to being clinicians!

    Now that we’re on Christmas break, there is only one more semester standing between my class and our first experiences as student doctors in The Eye Center. We start seeing our own patients in May and I could not be more excited! I can’t wait to start applying all of these skills we have been working so hard to master and to begin really thinking like a doctor. SCO has been providing us with every opportunity possible to prepare us for real-life patient interactions so I know we will feel ready and prepared (but still probably a little nervous!) when we’re finally in the clinic in May.

    As for the next two weeks, I plan to do a lot of relaxing and catching up on sleep! I’m going home to Texas to visit my family for a week for Christmas then coming back to Memphis for the Liberty Bowl (Gig ‘em, Aggies!) and New Year’s Eve. I know by the time the spring semester begins on January 5th I will be recharged and ready to take on another busy and exciting semester. I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and I’ll check back in in January with some spring semester updates! Happy Holidays!!

    Amy Puerto

    Fall in Rewind


    Hello blogosphere!

    You know it’s been busy, when I’ve been absent from the blog scene for a few months. CAN. YOU. BELIEVE. IT? In my last update I had just begun my externship rotation at Eye Care Centers of Kentucky–with eight office locations and six doctors. Fast forward to now, and I have received second-to-none clinic experience in ocular disease and cared for nearly 900 patients! My speed has definitely picked up (sayonara 1 hour exams!), and I’ve seen everything from newborns to 101 year old patients in a day’.s work! My preceptor was also very supportive in letting me shadow other doctors including a retina specialist, cataract surgeon, and dry eye disease specialist. Even more, I observed several optometrist preformed laser procedures including YAG-capsulotomy, Peripheral Iridotomy (LPI), and Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) in our office. As you may recall from one of my previous blogs, Kentucky has one of the best scope of practice laws in the nation. This affords optometrists and patients greater access to needed health care treatments in many rural towns. During my rotation, I saw optometry work to it’s fullest; I was even invited to attend a hearing at Kentucky’s state capital on a legislative bill that would protect optometrist’s role in telemedicine. Good news–it passed!

    If all that wasn’t enough, I even was able to keep up my globe-trotting travels during my externship. I attended two new conferences this fall: COVD and FCO. The College Of Vision Development (COVD) Conference is focused on providing optometrists and students insight into the latest research on vision therapy and its associated conditions. There was also a poster presentation where residents shared their current research projects and an exhibit hall where I could test out the latest in vision therapy technology. COVD was held in sunny San Diego, and staying waterfront definitely didn’t disappoint! My favorite lecture was on slowing myopia (near-sightedness) progression with contact lenses in children, and I see myself incorporating this evidence-based medicine into my future practice.

    The other conference I attended was the Fellowship of Christian Optometrists held in Nashville, Indiana (seriously, it’s a real place!). Actually, this conference was hosted at a lodge in a national park. It was absolutely stunning, and the lodge always had a warm fire going in the fireplace. The best part was hearing inspiring testimonials from missionary optometrists returning from the Middle East and as far as Papua, New Guinea. Of course I can’t forget the special ocular disease study session hosted by the one-and-only, KMK Kyle! It came at the perfect time as I was already in the midst of studying for NBEO Part 2.

    Speaking of NBEO Part 2…I can check that exam off my to-do list (finally!). I took my last of three national boards in early December. Part 2 was completed at a computerized testing center with 150 patient cases that focused on the safe treatment and management of ocular conditions. The SCO clinic experience once again proved to be a great foundation for the materials I was tested on, with the combination of my prep materials, and my current private practice rotation, I believe I was prepared for the exam. Of course, now’s the waiting game—results won’t be released until the end of January so fingers-crossed and prayers said!!

    I’m currently applying for optometric residency. I’m excited for this next journey in my optometry career and can’t wait to share with you more about the residency application process. Of course the hardest part is asking for those letters of recommendations. Even though I’ve met many optometric mentors willing to support my residency application, I’ll be the first to admit I still hold my breath right before I click the send button.

    I think that catches us all up a bit better for now. Happy (belated) Thanksgiving….I’ll save my other holiday wishes for my next blog post ;)

    Carpe Diem,


    Preslee Trammell

    American Academy of Optometry Meeting in Denver


    As a third year here at SCO, the fall has been really busy with clinic! It has been so fun getting a better grasp on patient care at all of our different locations around Memphis!  Even though we stay busy seeing patients most of the time this semester, I was able to attend the American Academy of Optometry’s meeting in Denver, CO last week.  It was so much fun! As a student, I love that the school allows us to take time off to go to conferences and meetings like this one.  They actually encourage it and give you a few conference days to take off each year to attend meetings like these. I have been to several other national conferences throughout my time here at SCO, but this was my first time attending the meeting for the Academy.  I know you may think it is hard to attend these meetings as a “financially challenged” student, but they give away a ton of student travel grants to help pay for flights and hotels to make the trip.

    At this meeting, optometrists and students come together every year for continuing education and to present research that they have been working on over the past year.  Needless to say,  there is a lot to learn whether you are a student or an optometrist. Students are encouraged to go to any of the educational lectures that are offered throughout the meeting, and can even become a Student Fellow if they attend the required events for it.  Also there are many receptions and social events to network.

    As students, we also had some down time to enjoy the city and sightsee for a bit before heading back to Memphis.  It was so cold in Denver, as we were there for the first snow of the season! I’ve posted some of my pictures from my time in Denver below if you want to check it out! I am just so grateful for the opportunity to go to national meetings like this to learn more about our profession, network, see a new part of the country, and make some great memories with some of my classmates! As a student it is easy to get bogged down in school and studying, but I feel like attending these meetings is so important to our optometric education as well.  I encourage everyone reading this to try your best to attend one!


    The first snow of the season in Denver!

    The first snow of the season in Denver!


    At the SCO reception with friends and classmates Brooke and Katie!

    At the SCO reception with friends and classmates Brooke and Katie!

    Before boarding our flight to Denver with one of our favorite staff doctors, Dr. Edmondson!

    Before boarding our flight to Denver with one of our favorite staff doctors, Dr. Edmondson!


    Enjoying lunch in our free time!

    Enjoying lunch in our free time!


    Exploring the city and enjoying the famous 16th Street Mall!

    Exploring the city and enjoying the famous 16th Street Mall!


    A picture looking down on the famous blue bear looking in on the Denver Convention Center where the meeting was held.

    A picture looking down on the famous blue bear looking in on the Denver Convention Center where the meeting was held.

    Liz Frontino

    One Year Later


    Exactly one year ago today, I was in Memphis for my interview and tour of SCO. I honestly had no intentions of choosing this school; really I just wanted some interview practice and a chance to experience a new city. As soon as I left the campus that day, I knew my feelings had changed. I was so impressed with the entire community, and immediately felt comfortable here.

    Obviously, things are not always the same as they appear on tours, but overall I have been extremely happy with my choice. All of my classmates are great, and I really feel like we are an entire community. There’s not so much competition as there is support, and this was huge for me. I am not a very competitive person, and I don’t like comparing myself to others. Here, I feel like I am able to focus on my own work and not worry about how anyone else is doing. If I have a question about a concept, I’m never worried that I will seem stupid to my classmates.

    Optometry school is not anything like I expected it to be. I never thought it would be so challenging and all-consuming, but I also never knew how rewarding it would feel to be here. It’s so different than being in undergrad; everything we learn is going to contribute to my future career and my future life, and that is very exciting and fulfilling.

    Memphis is very different than what I had imagined it to be as well, but I’m slowly finding my way here. The Memphis Farmer’s Market has absolutely been my favorite thing, and I try to get there as many Saturdays as possible. They just started their winter season, which is pretty much like the summer season but colder, but I am loving that I’ll be able to keep this as part of my Saturday routine. Downtown Memphis is also very pretty, and I’ve been having fun exploring some of the local restaurants and shops. I feel like there are definitely some charming places, it just takes a little bit of work to find them. What I like about Memphis is the overall feel of the city. It really has its own personality. I absolutely love living on Mud Island and seeing the the Mississippi River every day, and I am especially excited for the huge new Bass Pro Shop to open up in the pyramid this May. Some specific plans were released this week and it definitely seems like it will be worth the wait!

    I also love being in the South in general and having access to so many nearby states. As someone from the Northeast, I had never even travelled to many southern states and have had a ton of fun with road trips to Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. There’s definitely a charm to this area of the country and I am thankful to be able to experience that.

    Above all, I am very happy with where I’ve ended up for school. I never would have imagined a year and a half ago that I would be sitting in Memphis reviewing Anatomy notes, but I’m very happy that this is the case. As I head into the last part of the semester, I am feeling very positive about my optometry journey so far, and I can’t wait to see what the next few months (and years) have in store for me!

    Virgilio Gozum

    Chattanooga Chew Chew


    The beautiful city of Chattanooga has long been associated with trains. There is a popular Glenn Miller song, after all, called “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” based upon one legendary locomotive.

    Perhaps it is appropriate, then, that this entire semester has felt like riding on a passenger train in which the outside scenery whizzes by in a blur. It is already December, and you haven’t heard from me yet. I am already planning out my life in Wichita for next semester…my last semester of optometry school. Yikes!

    But let’s not get ahead of ourselves too much! I have yet to tell you how things have gone here so far. In a nutshell, this has been a wonderful, wonderful semester. It has actually seemed like a dream at times – I have been learning so much, and then after clinic there is much to explore and rediscover here in my ole’ undergrad town. Work and play, in a beautiful balance.

    My extern clinic is awesome: SouthEast Eye Specialists. This site is a large referral center consisting of five optometrists and six ophthalmologists, each in a different specialty: two corneal specialists, oculoplastics, glaucoma, retina, and pediatrics/strabismus. As you might expect, with this many doctors under one roof, I have been able to see more than a few eyeballs this semester! Diseases rarely seen at school, I have come across several times here. Having a surgery center downstairs and procedure rooms in clinic mean that I get to watch some cool techniques and procedures as well.

    Truthfully, this site has shown me how optometry and ophthalmology have the potential to meld so beautifully. Everything works like clockwork, all in the name of the best care for patients as possible. No one has a big ego, and on a regular basis I hear from patients something to the effect of  ”I am so satisfied with my vision after my cataract surgery” or “Thank you for saving my vision.” When optometry and ophthalmology work together, eye diseases and disorders just don’t stand a chance.

    This semester has been incredibly eventful, and I apologize for not telling you about it sooner. I’ll just list off a few things that come to mind, stream-of-consciousness style, like a chugging, churning train. All aboard! I returned to Memphis for Convocation/White Coat Ceremony and surprised my third-year girlfriend and fellow fourth-years. Go Grizzlies! I got addicted to stand-up paddleboarding. SouthEast Eye celebrated 30 years of co-management in Tennessee and threw a gigantic masquerade ball at the Hunter Museum in Chattanooga. Having passed Parts I and III, I took Part II just a few days ago. Hopefully it went alright. Nature has been my friend, and the mountains my playground. Also, I am thankful for being here with Linh, the ocular disease resident at SEES and old SVOSH pal of mine. Attended the Academy meeting in Denver and had an amazing, amazing time (but cold – temperature dipped down to -8 degrees at some point!). I have not particularly budgeted well this semester, but I regret nothing (yet). Never before have I appreciated Fall in Chattanooga as much as I have during this one. All the colors just seemed to be more spectacular than my memory can recall. I also have a greater appreciation for my time at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I’ve realized that many of my college friends will truly be lifelong friends, though distance and circumstances may separate us in the future. Likewise, during Thanksgiving break, I realized that it will be more difficult in the future for my whole family to be in the same place all at once, especially as my siblings and I uncover our futures. Cognizance of that fact just makes my time with them even more important. The more I learn, the more I realize there is so much left to learn, and I’m okay with that. My love for Chattanooga truly equals my love for Memphis, but in a different way. Oh, I attended the TAOP Fall Congress in Gatlinburg and climbed a mountain with some SCO friends. I do not regret skipping CE lectures for that or for exploring the Colorado Capitol the Friday of Academy week, especially when it became a tropical 46 degrees in Denver. Life is short. Speaking of Gatlinburg, and exiting this exhausting train of consciousness…

    …while in Gatlinburg, an opportunity for employment presented itself to me, which has added quite a bit of intrigue to this Fall. I have given it serious thought and continue to chew on this possibility. Likewise, slowly but surely my classmates and I are putting together the puzzle pieces of our futures. I admit it’s not the most stress-free decision making paradigm of my life. Everything else has seemed simple in comparison. Residency? No residency? Private practice? Commercial? Who? What? When? How? Why? $? (: ?

    Where? Where! Maybe that’s the biggest question I’ve personally had to grapple with. Where should I be, and who do I want to be wherever I should be?

    I have remind myself to relax, and to just be me. Everything is going to be fantastic.

    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!