Second-Year Optometry Student: Natalie Baek
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Second-Year Optometry Student: Natalie Baek

Natalie and her husband

To the curious viewer interested in learning about a day in the life of a second year optometry student, please allow me to describe my humble background. I am a 28-year-old, Asian, female Californian presenting for a degree in Optometry at Salus University.

Natalie has been married for almost three years and wants some reprieve from her constant near vision work on her laptop and written notes. Her severe studying habits constitutes for fatigue, emotional destabilization, and a mild disarray in her presentation. The patient is returning to school after working in a large group practice in California for two years and a lovely one year of honeymoon bliss without studying and working. Currently, she is being pretentious by practicing her presentation for clinic in her “Day in the Life” blog. Yes, it is that time in Optometry school where we finally see our own patients at The Eye Institute (TEI), which is exciting and nerve racking at the same time. This is me describing my busiest day of the week at Salus University.

I woke up by 7:00 a.m. and start getting ready. I knew that I wouldn’t have much time for lunch today, so I quickly packed some food I can eat during one of my morning classes. My first class began at 8:00 a.m. and since I live only five minutes away from campus, I am not worried about getting there on time.

Our school lectures are all recorded and I know in the back of my mind I could have stayed at home in my warm bed to watch the lectures later that day/weekend, but I reminded myself that I wanted to have a date night with my husband at the end of the week, so I forced myself to wake up and go to class. I am a second-year Optometry student and unlike first year, I am enjoying the subjects I am learning in school. Now that we are moving forward and concentrating on ocular diseases and treatment plans compared to systemic disease, I feel as though I am finally studying what my future entails. I can feel that my time in school and studies is closing and a new chapter is beginning. It is stimulating and moves me to dive forward in my subjects.

Natalie and her classmates


Natalie selfieMy first class discusses diagnostic testing for normal and abnormal binocular function and my second class discusses keratoconus for contact lens. During the break in my second class, at around 10:50 a.m., I quickly microwave food during the break and eat during class because we have to be at clinic by 12:30 p.m. I purposely brought food that was not smelly and enough to fill me until dinner because once we are in clinic we may not have another opportunity to eat because patients come first! Class ended at 11:50 a.m. and I need to quickly print some notes from our libraries’ free black and white printer! 

By 12:00 p.m., I’m driving to TEI (The Eye Institute) and trying to get there as soon as possible so that I am one of the first to arrive. This is so that if we are assigned a room, I may be one of the first to be ready to receive a patient and perhaps end the earliest. I am assigned to specialties in pediatrics rather than primary care. I arrive at 12:15 p.m. and realize that I am assigned to PE (short for Perceptual Exam) this is my first time assigned to do a PE and I have no idea what this kind of exam constitutes. Thank goodness I was able to follow a couple fourth years to observe them performing the exam on the patient. The resident, Dr. Andrew Do, was extremely helpful in explaining all of the different diagnostic tests performed on the patient that is particular to PE. 

I come home from clinic at 8:30 p.m. starving and I realize my husband is attempting to make pad-thai for the first time! As a perfectionist, he was pretty disappointed, but I thought it ended up tasting really good for his first time. (Perhaps it was because I was so hungry.) When my husband went to go rock climbing at 9:30 p.m., I went to the library for some last minute push of studying until 11:45 p.m.

natalie taking a selfie with her husbandAs I write this up, I am very thankful that this kind of a schedule only happens once a week and most of my days have gaps to provide free time and the schedule of classes/clinic also end at 5:00 p.m.

Going to Optometry School has been a big dream of mine ever since I won an essay contest in the eighth grade and got to visit Marshall B. Ketchum Optometry School for a day. It has taken me a while to get here, but sometimes I still have a wave of shock that I will be a doctor one day and be in charge of taking care of people’s sight. It is an honor to undertake this journey and also a heavy responsibility to uphold. The eyes are the windows to a person’s soul, health, and future stability in life.

Learn More About the Salus Optometry Program

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