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The community for opticians and optometrists.

February 2011 - Optomstudent

  • Opfest 2011

    With a year since Opfest was established at Cardiff University nearly gone, it's time for the inter-optometry school sports day to take place again, this time being hosted by Bradford. As I aim to try and give a balanced view on student life, many readers of my blogs may think I study to hard as I continually talk about how much work I am doing and how much effort I am putting into the course. So I signed myself up for Opfest 2011 in the hopes it will show I do enjoy myself as well. So what is it all about? Well from what I have been told it is just like a giant sports day with all the optometry schools competing in football, rugby, dodgeball and netball. The team that wins the most points on the day take home a trophy to prove their victory. Last year's winners were Aston, so I'm sure many of us will be wanting to be sure that Aston don't win again... The event isn't just about sports however, there is a welcome party on the Friday we arrive - a geeks/optometry themed party at that (with regard to my previous post I'm guessing I'd fit right in - but I won't be working out which lenses have an AR coat under the disco lights...). There is a BBQ lunch on the Saturday after the sports have taken place and the Bollywood Ball sounds like it will be a great evening. As you can tell, I am quite looking forward to going - not only to let my hair down, have a game of football and forget I have a few deadlines due, but also to branch my network out and meet other optometry students from across the UK. As it's in the approaching weeks, I shall update you with how it went and of course... who won!
  • It's starting to happen...

    I can remember when I first started my job at the eye hospital as an ophthalmic photographer. Being a junior and not really having much of a background in eyes it was all a rather daunting prospect. Everywhere part of the hospital I was required to visit spoke eyes. It was to be expected, seeming we were in an eye hospital. Then, as I became more integrated within the life of the hospital, social events came about from the various departments that I worked with - ranging from a few drinks after work with my fellow photographers to having a barbecue at one of the consultant ophthalmologists huge country houses. One thing eventually came clear. We all spoke eyes outside of work as well. Sure, there were other topics of conversation, but eyes, OCTs, fluorescein angiographies, visual fields, cataracts and the rest of the eye related topics came back into play within minutes of talking. It was something I noticed when I started my studies back in September. where in the dispensing lab our lecturer walked around and told each student who wore glasses what their rough prescription was, what type of material their lenses were likely to be and what coatings they had. It did make me stop and think if other jobs "talked shop" all the day and if they did, would they be as so passionate about their work that they just knew nearly all that there is to know about their field? I also wondered if we needed to be able to know that much about lenses by the end of the first year... Iit came to me the other day midway through a workshop on communication. The lady providing the lecture was talking away and all I could notice was her glasses. The lights of the room we were in reflected a nice greeny-blue reflection. My instant thought was to the lecture two days previous where we had been taught about anti-reflective coats and how they work. Further more, I tried hard to do what my lecturer had done to me on the first day of term. I tried to look at her lenses - were they correcting myopia? Hypermetropia? What material were they made of? It was interesting to see how much I must have picked up throughout my first year - perhaps not as much as the lecturer knew, but I felt proud I'd applied my knowledge. Just to clarify to anybody wondering, I was also paying attention to the communication lecture as well... But this fascination with optometry doesn't just stop with dispensing. I was lucky enough to attend the 75th anniversary meal for optometry in Cardiff (albeit I was only selling raffle tickets). As part of the evening's entertainment was a comedienne , who also worked as an optometrist. For those that haven't heard of Sarah Morgan and her song about presbyopia, the following link should take you to her youtube video . She performed a stand-up routine and several other songs that picked up on this fact that eyecare professionals talk a lot about eyes. It's well worth a watch! Finally I would like to share something from the social aspect of the optometry student. Whilst out at a local pub, relaxing after a day full of lectures, I overheard one of the other students say "LNACONEA". I instantly jumped up and said "6/4!" (for the potential non-optometrist reader, that line is the lowest line of letters on one of the clinic's Snellen charts). I think this outburst surprised everybody as I am rarely refracted to that level in the student clinic... showing I'm even managing to memorise the Snellen chart to aid in my routine eye examination efficiency! The rest of the evening was spent practicing the cover test on each other with the variety of beer mats available on the table. Although it may sound strange, being this focused on the subject can only be a good thing. It helps us to be knowledgeable, gives us the means to be able to become more efficient in our roles and finally it shows we must have passion for our chosen career (I mean, if we didn't enjoy it, we wouldn't talk about it all the time...right?). Let us hope we all can put all this to use in our upcoming examinations!
  • Exams on the Horizon

    So there goes another week. Before I started my application to study optometry, many then third year students warned me that the years fly by. If you recall a post made a few weeks back, both here and on my blog at www.optomstudent.co.uk , you will have seen that I have definitely noticed that. The worrying thing is, writing that post seemed like yesterday, not two weeks ago. So why am I finding this flying time such a concern? Well, every Monday dispensing lecture we have, our lecturer kindly reminds us that it is x number of weeks until our practical exams. I think from today we are only 5 weeks away. Although I know how to do the techniques likely to be examined, there is (like with any examination) that level of fear coursing through my body. Then there is the fact that as of two weeks, there will be no more lectures for a particular module, with other lecture modules slowly rounding up their content not long after. It is hard to believe that I have nearly finished 1/3 of the course content already. But this feeling of time rushing by isn’t just down to the fear of the exams. It’s also because I am enjoying myself. There hasn’t really been a day where I haven’t wanted to get out of bed to go into the classes. I work hard on the coursework and am marvelled at how much research has been carried out on the eye as well as the shape of things to come. The craving for knowledge and the ambition to reach my end target are enough to motivate me to attend (even if I am tired, having spent most of the night applying the finishing touches to an assignment!). So let the time fl;, a healthy mix of satisfaction that I am on the right path to achieving the career I’ve wanted for so long and that of the pre-exam nerves are just accelerants to fuel speeding up the time between being a first year student to becoming a second year student. I just have to keep enjoying the ride!
  • Student on a Budget

    Following on from last week’s post about how fast time is flying by, I should also point out that money is slowly leaking from my account (and by slowly leaking meaning I’m about to call a plumber before the whole neighbourhood loses water pressure). Therefore I am setting myself budgeting challenges, thus hoping to reduce money leakage and also learn a few more tips on being thrifty. The budgeting has been rather hard for me. It all started so well; scrimping and saving during my previous job, choosing lower priced food and drinks, avoiding fast food, washing my car by hand instead of the car wash (ok...the last one may not be true, but you get the idea...). Moving away from home is always going to incur some expense. Not only do you need to pay for the place you are living and the travelling costs of moving there, but also for all the items that you’ll need in order to survive. Searching high and low through the local supermarket for the best deals, trying to work out if you’ll actually need three or four saucepans, whether a pizza cutter is something you could live without and wondering if 4 sets of knives and forks will be enough to last the year (sadly, 4 sets haven’t even lasted me a term...and it’s just me using them!). On top of setting yourself up, there is the cost of the bills that are already helping themselves to your funds. Mobile phone, road tax, insurance, membership fees, online subscriptions...the list goes on. This is one area of the student budget that is probably the hardest thing to control. Deciding what to keep paying for, which ones that you are able to reduce or cut out all together – it’s a tough call that only you can make! There are of course, the expenses of the course. These vary between courses and institutions. My course may not be the cheapest, but for me I know it’s the one that I really don’t mind investing in. For me, the goal at the end is worth every penny spent. Now I know that this post seems scary – “money” is probably the scariest word known to students after “lecture” and “deadline”, but a good budget plan and knowing where to make the right sacrifices, it is very manageable being a student. You can still go out and have an amazing time, enjoy sports activities and make the most of the city you choose to study in. In conclusion, money obviously is a major factor in the decision to be a student. However, it shouldn’t be the only one. On top of studying for a top profession, you gain so much more than a degree. You gain life experience, communication skills, professional working habits and of course, the best 3-4 years of your life. Those last few things, money can’t buy!
  • How Time is Flying!

    Welcome to everyone who hasn't been following my ramblings on my optomstudent webpage I've woken up this morning to a terrifying realisation. Today is the beginning of the third week of the optometry school's second semester. A quick glance on my lecture and practicals schedule and I can see that there are only six full weeks left after this before the lectures trail off and practicals come to a standstill. An even more frightening thought is that our practical exams are held not long after this. Is the end of my first year at university really drawing to a close?I can remember it was just over a year ago where I made the conscious decision to apply for the 2010/11 academic year, rather than staying as an ophthalmic photographer at the eye hospital to gain another year's relevant experience before applying for the 2011/12 year. I can remember trying to fill out the UCAS forms, arranging student finance (which reminds me...I had better look into funding for next year soon!) and of course, working out where I wanted to stay in the vast selection of university accommodation. I can remember the excitement of being offered a place. I think that moment will be one I shall never forget. My office jumping around with excitement (and me sitting down feeling rather dazed and confused with the fantastic news). I can remember rushing around and telling my colleagues, phoning my parents and literally telling everyone. I'm sure I didn't actually stop talking about it until I arrived and started the course. I'm probably speaking rather prematurely about this. As I've said, I've 6 weeks of full studying ahead of me. 6 weeks of challenging concepts and coursework. So it's actually far from over. Then on top of that there is quite some time before the end of the university year (just under 5 months until I am leaving to head home for the summer!). However, I bring this topic up as it has made me realise that I have to enjoy these last few months, before the lure of finding work over the summer draws in. A quick read through my blog has reminded me that I have had fun. This is where I am meant to be. I am content in my studies and the social side of university. It's time to keep both sides of university life running well and drive on towards my goal of becoming an optometrist. As for a brief catch-up with what's actually going on at the moment, I think my sudden realisation of the time came from a trip to Reflex, an 80s bar, on Friday. Perhaps the playing of 80s classics, being dressed in 80s fashion (I even had a sweatband and an inflatable guitar...) and waking up with UV paint on my face may have made me think I'd been stuck in a Time Warp (...unintentional pun...). Suddenly waking up in a world 3 decades after the theme might have something to do with time flying... Also a last night, I caught up with a few guys from my course at the Blackweir Tavern. As with anybody involved in optometry, the topic of conversation was mainly about eyes. What was more frightening was that one person said a few letters and I instantly recognised it as the 6/4 line from the clinic Snellen chart (I guess perhaps I have started to memorise the chart - even though that particular line usually proves to be a problem for me...). We even identified somebody's phone as the same ringtone as the one we have that tells us to swap partners in the student practice clinic... Perhaps we are subconsciously learning a lot more than we are aware of... Well, I think I have written quite enough for one day. I have a dispensing lecture in a few hours and plan to get at least a few more paragraphs written for my basic clinical techniques coursework. Until next time,
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