HELLO! After a hiatus from writing over the past few months, I AM BACK. If you don't know me personally, I took a break from writing to focus on studying for Part 1 of the National Board Exam in Optometry (NBEO). Some people completely wall themselves off from all forms of social media for the months of January to March during third year, even deleting all their apps and deactivating accounts, but knowing I would go crazy without keeping up with my friends and family, I chose to keep my Instagram, delete my other social media apps (fully capable of still logging on through browser...) and put a hold on writing for three months.
A quick background for those who aren't super familiar with the structure of Optometry School: In total Optometry School is 4 years with optional residency following. At my school the first year and a half is completely didactic, other than shadowing older students and doing school screenings. We begin seeing general eye exam patients on our own Spring of our second year. You slowly progress to more clinic and less class throughout the rest of school. While first and second year are full of endless labs, classes, and TESTS (ugh), third and fourth year are much more fun... other than Boards. Each of the 3 Parts of NBEO is taken between March of your third year (OS3) and graduation. They each have a slightly different focus. Part 1 is the "Applied Basic Sciences" exam. It is a mix of pharmacology, pathology, A&P, neuro, optics and so much more (contact lenses, biochem, micro, immunology etc.). The test is 350 questions and takes up to 8 grueling hours. Not only are you in a pretty high-stress situation but you are also in a testing center that is set up like a prison with cameras pointed at you, a test proctor sitting in a room behind you watching like a hawk, and strict clothing rules (you can't wear any sort of clothing with zippers or hoods or jewelry larger than a pencil eraser). Regardless of how much it stunk, at least it is over for now! I will take the next two parts of Boards in September and December and then will be home free to GRADUATION. In retrospect, school has passed incredibly fast. It seems like yesterday I was a first year and saw the fourth years that were just running around in clinic seemingly like All-Stars and now we are almost there (being almost on the other side of that, I am definitely no All-Star, and still have a lot to learn between now and next May! Fake it until you make it though!). It is fun however starting to test out specialty areas I love (and definitely don't love) and picturing how I would like to practice in the future.
As for the rest of this semester, we won't actually find out if we passed Part 1 until May, which is annoying, but it is how it is. For now it is another thing we have made it through and my classmates and I just have to finish the semester out to make our way to being FOURTH YEARS.