Jarod DetrickHello everyone! My name is Jarod Detrick, and I am a first-year Optometry student at Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University. I am originally from upstate New York and attended undergrad down in South Florida! Moving back to the Northeast after spending the last four years in South Florida was an adjustment but I am very happy to have seasons again! Optometry school is a huge adjustment compared to undergrad and I am excited to share with you all what a day in the life of a first year OD student looks like. 

I am currently in week two of our first semester and we jumped in with both feet with lectures, clinical skills labs, anatomy labs, and optics lab. Each day is a little different and will vary depending on the group you are in, but overall we all have a very similar schedule. We attend between 3-4 lectures/labs a day, five days a week. With a full course load, it definitely takes a lot of time management to ensure you complete all your work on time! This week we started our clinical skills lab and learned how to complete visual acuity and pupillary distances.

6:15 a.m: I wake up and get ready for a full day of lectures and labs. I make sure that all my devices are fully charged and packed in my bag, along with any supplies I will need for the labs that day. I also like to look over my schedule for the day while I make my breakfast so I can see which lectures I will need to download before I leave. I live about five miles from the Elkins Park campus, which takes me usually about 10-15 minutes to get there each morning.

8 –​ 10 a.m.: Today my group has a pre-recorded Panopto lecture to watch for head and neck anatomy, which means I can watch the lecture and take notes from my apartment.

10 a.m. –​ noon: My class schedule has a “free period” during this time, but don’t let it fool you because this doesn’t necessarily mean I have time to hang out. Some weeks contain “scroll” lectures, which are pre-recorded lectures that we have to find time throughout the week to watch. Since I have a two hour window, I decided to watch two 1-hour interprofessional evidence based practice lectures. This class is one that all first-year students from all graduate programs at Salus attend.

12:30 p.m.: After a quick lunch, it is time to head to campus for the remainder of my lectures for the day.

1 –​ 3 p.m.: Today we have a clinical skills lecture, where we learned about different diagnostic testing such as automated objective refraction, non-contact tonometry, and visual field testing. This class is one of my favorites so far this semester! The material we learn in this lecture will correlate to what we will be learning in the clinical skills lab next week!

3 –​ 5 p.m.: Time for the final lecture of the day, which was biochem and genetics. In lecture we covered enzymology and discussed the contents for our exam next week. This will be my first exam in Optometry school and is the start of weekly exams until the end of the semester.

VR lab - OD model head5 p.m.: Now that lectures are over, myself and a classmate decided to head over to the Virtual Reality Lab to complete some direct ophthalmoscope training. The VR lab is one of the coolest study tools we have at PCO. Since it was only a training to get us used to the equipment, we had to find different shapes that were scattered around the retina of our VR patient.

5:30 p.m.: After finishing our training, my classmate and I headed into the Clinical Skills Lab to finish some of the visual acuity and pupillary distance testing that we hadn’t fully finished yesterday during the lab period.

6:30 p.m.: After a long day of lectures and labs I like to take some time to relax and get my body moving after sitting for most of the day. I like to go to Orangetheory Fitness, which is a HIIT-style gym within walking distance of my apartment.

7:30 p.m.: Dinner time! After a long day I try to stick to simple meals because it doesn’t require a lot of prep time. Tonight's dinner was pesto chicken from Trader Joes and roasted broccoli with rice. I usually like to catch up with friends and family while I make/eat my dinner.

8:15 p.m.: Time to get back to work. Each week has a different workload, but since I am only in week two of the semester and still getting used to the hectic schedule, I like to take this time to catch up on any missed emails, assignments or notes that I need to finish from lectures earlier in the week. Today I had to finish my lecture notes from my biochem class and my ophthalmic optics lecture.

10:30 p.m.: Time to unwind and get ready for the next day. I like to give myself about 30 minutes to relax with some TV before I call it a night and go to bed.

The schedule of a first year Optometry student is definitely very busy! During orientation it was mentioned that it can feel like trying to drink water from a firehose and I can tell you that it's very true! However, if you can manage your time and set up a daily schedule it is very manageable. These next three years and nine months are going to fly by and before I know it, I will be out practicing on my own!