I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Optometry school was no walk in the park. Just like any graduate program, just when you think you couldn’t possibly take on one more task, you’re hit with even more things to do. Sometimes it’s hard to even catch a break.
Third year is also a bittersweet milestone. Most students are excited because they are halfway through their optometry school experience. However, this is also when things become much more serious. Third year is when the curriculum gets tougher, expectations in clinic become greater and, to top it all off, you’re studying for boards.
Here are some tips on how to get through third year when you have so much on your plate:
- Don’t freak out: You will be overwhelmed and you won’t likely have time to make it through everything you need to do the way you want to. The toughest part about this process is that you are rarely on your own time. Deadlines creep up, but don’t get discouraged if you weren’t able to accomplish all of the things you intended to. Being discouraged will only cause you to perform worse and worse. A critical part of time management is recognizing yourself and your tendencies as a student. You will find that some topics require less effort than others. Always listen to your intuition and know your capabilities. Just because the people around you are spending more time on a topic than you are doesn't mean that they are automatically more prepared and will do better than you will on their exams. Though it may seem simple, there are so many different types of learners; comparing yourself to others will not benefit you as a student in the long term.
- Don’t let one negative mark bring you down: We all want to do well in every aspect of our lives. If you happen to not do well in one class or get a few negative remarks in clinic, don’t let that get in the way of your confidence and your success. These situations can seem like roadblocks, but they are a part of the journey. Learn from the mistakes and move on. Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses and get help whenever you need it. Letting the little things get to you will negatively affect your other scores, personal relationships, and your overall confidence.
- Remain Present: This is the one tip I always give to my pre-optometry interns, though it can be applied to any profession, or even general circumstance. You know when you go to a concert and there are the people with their cell phones out recording the entire thing? When are they going to watch that if they're not enjoying it at the moment? They’re so caught up in making sure they have a recording they’lll never watch rather than being present. If you are in class, don’t worry about what’s going to happen later in the afternoon. When you are in clinic, don’t worry about actively studying for boards. Most importantly, when you are supposed to be participating in lecture, don’t worry about studying for the next class. Schedule your study time for each class and don’t think about or look up content for the next class, even if you have an exam coming up the same day. The biggest mistake students make is trying to play catch-up during times that they should be actively learning. When it gets exhausting and tough, just remember all of the hardships you have faced to make it this far. This simple habit will carry over to other aspects of your life as well.
There you have it! Three simple rules to live by. These aren’t life hacks by any means, but just a simple set of practical advice from someone who has been in your shoes. Keep going, you will soon see the light at the end of the tunnel.
~ Dr. Amadian