Hello, my name is Cindy Kweon and I am currently a fourth-year Optometry student at Salus University.
It’s surreal to say that in a couple of days, I will be a doctor. I dreamt of becoming one when I was younger, but quickly gave up on the idea. I liked helping people, but school was never my forte. I tried to put the effort in, but the results didn’t always reflect it.
During my senior year of college, I wanted to go on long-term missions abroad with my church after I graduated, but Jesus had other plans. I somehow ended up shadowing an optometrist, who generously offered me a job, which eventually led me to apply to Salus.
The curriculum was pretty rigorous and I s.t.r.u.g.g.l.e.d. Upperclassmen told me didactic classes would progressively get easier, but every semester proved to be difficult in its own way. Many times, I felt in over my head and it became a continual trust game with God. Was I really supposed to be here? There are so many people who seemed more capable and I felt out of place. Does He really know what He’s doing? Considering academics have always been difficult for me, putting me in higher education seemed almost foolish.
But, His ways are higher than my own. Through really quality friends, the Word, and a couple of sessions of therapy - free for students within the Office of Academic Success - I am only days away from graduating!
Here’s what a typical day looks like while on externship.
Waking up early is my least favorite part of the day. I am absolutely not a morning person, but my commute to my externship takes about an hour. I give myself time to hit the snooze button once or twice. I also set two alarms just in case I hit close instead of snooze because that’s definitely happened before.
8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
I bring the patient into an exam room. My externship site allows for the student doctors to see the patient from start to finish before the preceptor checks. Day to day varies in terms of the personalities you interact with, how many patients you see, and what kind of pathology appears. But I love that it’s not the same exam every single time. It’s fun trying to navigate through the patient’s chief complaint and attempt to figure out a solution. Plus, I like the banter.
There are times I feel confident in the exam room and times when I feel lost. Pathology can deviate from classic signs and symptoms taught in textbooks, but I’m learning, and it’s okay to be stumped. My preceptor will consult other ODs and MDs to discuss the best management and treatment for the patient.
As soon as the last patient is finished, I’ll find a cafe/library to go to.
5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
I failed the Treatment and Management of Ocular Disease (TMOD) portion of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO®) Part II, so I’ll do questions on Optoprep – a study tool for NBEO®, listen to KMK lectures, or read the Will’s Eye Manual. If there was an interesting case in clinic that I wasn’t sure about, I’ll look it up. Information sticks better if there’s a patient I can relate it to. The length of time I study fluctuates depending on how tired I am, but I do what I can. Caffeine helps, finding people to study with helps, and being in clinic reiterates the material, so it’s good.
I drive home so I can eat and rest. Breaks are important and resting is not selfish! Depending on the day, I’ll watch a TV show, go for a run, take a nap, etc.
And, repeat. Some days feel more exhausting than others, but at the end of the day, I’m realizing how fulfilling it is to be in the health field. What’s more is that optometry provides great opportunities for medical missions, both local and abroad. If you want to participate while you’re a student, Students in Optometric Service to Humanity (SOSH), an organization at Salus, sends students yearly to various nations. Or you can volunteer at the Special Olympics, performing entrance tests and giving out glasses to participants. If you want to serve once you graduate, Google will be your best friend because there are countless organizations set up for certified optometrists. Even closed countries become viable options with a medical skillset under your belt.
I can’t help but marvel at God’s provisions and faithfulness throughout this entire journey. I don’t know what the future holds, but all I know is He is trustworthy and true to His promises. Where He leads, I will go.
For His glory.