Getting the Most out of Grad School
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Getting the Most out of Grad School

Salus University Orientation Summer 2016

The first day of orientation for Salus University is something I’ll never forget. Looking around at the sea of new students in their professional best, it seemed as though everyone was full of excitement and anticipation. While it appeared everyone’s attention was focused on meeting the new people around them and figuring out who was in what program, every few seconds eyes were darting toward the small stage and microphone at the front of the gymnasium – anxious to begin. Graduate schools brought about a new excitement and promise that undergrad had not: Ending your schooling with a job in the profession you had dreamed about. Until this point going to school and getting good grades always seemed mundane because you were achieving your highest just in hopes of being accepted into another school, to go to more classes, and take more tests. Being involved in clubs and community service started to become something you did just to impress the member of a panel, scholarship selection committee, or to fill another line on your application. But in graduate school, that all changes.

Day one of class introduced Dr. Lombardi, one of the smartest and most knowledgeable professors I have ever encountered. The class was Head and Neck Anatomy and her ability to name the muscles, actions, innervations, and relation to ocular conditions left me with my mouth hanging open. It was on our break between the first and second hour of class that it hit me—my ability to retain knowledge was no longer for the purpose of acing the test, now it was dependent on me providing my patient with the best care possible by knowing the ins and outs of the eye and its tissues. While at first, this feeling created a huge lump in my throat, I quickly realized this wasn’t something to be intimidated by, but a feeling I could channel into learning all that I was able. Graduate school really put the ball in my court and it was now up to me to decide how much I would get out of every lecture and lab. This was a theme I quickly realized would trickle down through everything I participated in while at Salus.

Realizing everything you’re learning in class has a practical input in your career field helps you to hang onto every word the professor says, study every diagram with intent, and try to master every skill you learn in the clinical setting. After settling into the new style of lectures and labs that were different from my classes in undergrad, I decided it was time to check out the different clubs and organizations that graduate school had to offer.
AOSA group pic
While the list was long and had a spectrum of clubs to suit any interest, I decided to really focus my energy on the activities that would translate into my career after graduation. Instead of trying to get my hand into every pot, why not really focus on what I enjoyed and activities that would help me grow as a person and an optometrist? That is how I came about getting involved in the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) as the Director of Internal Affairs. I knew I wanted to learn more about my profession and its governing body, the American Optometric Association, so joining its student branch seemed like a great fit. By dedicating my time outside of class and clinic to the activities that I have grown passionate about, I have been able to learn about the advocacy side of optometry and how passing bills in the Senate and House dictate the scope of practice. The best part is, after I walk across the stage on graduation day, all my hard work in this club doesn’t end there, but it translates in my participation as a practicing optometrist.

While graduate school can seem scary or daunting at first, and you may want to try and immediately spread yourself thin like many of us did in undergrad, really take the time to think about what you want to get out of it by graduation day. This is the time to take in as much knowledge as you can and focus your efforts on the activities that are going to elevate you in the profession you are working towards. Salus provides you with the tools and support necessary to become the best in your profession; it’s just up to you to put in the work necessary, get advice and help from the outstanding faculty and professors, and navigate your personal interests so that your educational experience is tailored to you.


Chad is a second year optometry student at Salus University


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