Hi, I’m Cameron Housley. At the beginning of the Scholar’s Program, I went through a quarter-life crisis. I had just turned 25 and I started to wonder if this was the career path I wanted to follow. We were given a very heavy course load, we had difficult proficiencies to practice for, and my student loans were starting to pile up. But my experience has since changed due to the support of my classmates, the rewarding experiences, and a newfound passion for optometry.
My fellow classmates have quickly become some of my closest friends. After spending hour after hour struggling through the rigor of the program, a bond has been made that has caused each of us to look after one another like siblings. For example, when a member of my class needed help moving couches up her stairs, several of us jumped at the opportunity to help. Or when I mysteriously kept forgetting the due date of a weekly assignment, several of my classmates would write me a reminder to make sure that I wasn’t falling behind. We have frequent game nights, we go out to eat together, we sit in the café at lunch together almost every day. Although we all come from different religious and cultural backgrounds, we accept each other’s differences and work together as a team so that each of us succeeds.
Another thing that has helped me become more comfortable with the program has been familiarizing myself with the city of Philadelphia. I am from a very small town in rural Idaho, so coming to Philadelphia was a huge culture shock for me. But after exploring the city with my wife, I have made Philadelphia my second home. I’ve been to several Phillies and 76ers games and I look forward to watching the Eagles play this season. The amount of activities (and good food) there is to do in the city has helped me manage my time and stay sane during busy semesters.
After completing my final proficiency at the end of my third quarter, I was able to participate in direct patient care at The Eye Institute. This was the highlight of my first year of Optometry. As students, we complete the history, entrance testing, refraction, and external examination of the patient before reporting to a doctor our findings and requesting permission to dilate. After we instill the dilation drops, we perform an assessment of the peripheral retina, macula, and optic nerve. We participate in patient education as well as some of the decision-making for the patient’s short-term and long-term care. It is energizing to see the clinical applications of what I learn in the classroom. Since starting to see patients, I feel that my knowledge and understanding has increased exponentially. There have been several times on tests that I’ve been asked a question about a certain disease or condition and I am able to quickly recognize the correct answer because it’s something I’ve already seen in clinic. My favorite thing about the Scholar’s program is that you are able to start direct patient care in just seven months, and the number of patients you see is far greater than any other program. Clinical exposure is the main thing that pulled me out of my quarter-life crisis and helped me find a passion for optometry.
Joining the Scholar’s Program has been one of the greatest decisions I have ever made. I’ve made life-long friends and had unforgettable experiences. I’ve learned how to manage my time efficiently and stay organized with my class work. With each course I take, I feel that I am being prepared for the rest of my life. Most importantly, I am happy even when there is the occasional finals week, proficiency, or difficult assignment because optometry is something that I enjoy and look forward to learning about for the rest of my life.