Hi friends! My name is Olivia Burger and I am a second-year Optometry student at Salus University, Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO). Before we get into what a typical day is like for me, here’s a little bit of background information about my life. I’m originally from the Erie, Pa. area and I received my undergraduate degree in Health Science from Gannon University. I am completing a 3+4 Accelerated Program in Optometry, which just means that I was able to earn my undergraduate degree in three years at Gannon, and now I am completing my Doctor of Optometry degree here at Salus. I now live in Jenkintown, just a few minutes from the Salus campus. I love living close to the school while also being just a short train ride away from Center City.
One of the most interesting things about optometry school is that there is no such thing as a “typical day.” When I first started school last August, I was very surprised to find that our schedule is constantly changing. Some mornings we have labs, some mornings we don’t. Some afternoons we have lecture and other afternoons we skip. Some weeks I have patient care twice and other weeks I don’t have patient care at all. Although the lack of consistency in the schedule can take some time to get used to, it’s nice because it keeps you alert. I have to be very organized in order to make sure I don’t miss out on any of my responsibilities.
So since a “typical day” in optometry school doesn’t really exist, I’ll just walk you through what last Thursday was like for me.
8 a.m. – Rise and shine! Usually, I get up at 6:30 a.m. if I have a class at 8, but thankfully today we did not have class until later so I was able to sleep in (which is a rarity). I’m not a big coffee person so I usually wake myself up for the day by listening to my favorite music while getting ready. I try to leave the house each morning in a good mood and music is a great way to put myself in a positive mindset.
9 a.m. – Practice for practicals. This particular semester is special because we have a bunch of clinical skills practicals that we must pass in order to be ready for patient care in January. I try to practice once a day to keep up on my skills. I’ll usually just practice whenever I have a free spot or break in the day, and today this just happened to be my free time.
10 a.m. – Noon – Clinical Skills Lecture. All of our clinical skills lectures and labs are absolutely required to attend, and in order to keep attendance we usually have a form we have to fill out that goes along with the lecture. Today we were reviewing visual fields and the visual pathway, so we got to have some fun with coloring during the lecture.
Noon – 5 p.m. – Study in the library. Although it’s not very fun, it has to be done. We have around 35 practicals, assessments, and exams this semester so my classmates and I are always studying. If I have a lot of work to do, I’ll usually study in the library, but if I’m just reviewing material I feel comfortable studying at home. I also have a work-study job at the Learning Resource Center (aka the library), so I get a lot of work done while I’m on the clock, which is nice,
5 p.m. – 9 p.m. – Private Practice Club Event. One of the clubs that you can be involved in through optometry school is the Private Practice Club (PPC) which brings in speakers and hosts events highlighting the business aspects of the profession. This particular event was a “Practice Crawl” in which we were transported via bus and able to tour three different private practices. It was so fun being able to see different practice settings and I learned a lot through conversations with the doctors/owners of the practices. Private Practice Club is a great way to learn more about optometry outside of what they teach you in class, and I highly encourage becoming involved in at least one campus club or organization like this during your time at Salus. Although it’s hard to make time for extra things like this outside of the crazy academic schedule, these special networking and learning opportunities are worth it.
10 p.m. – Bedtime! After a full day of class, studying, and networking, I’m usually exhausted. I’m also not a big late-night studier, so I try to go to bed before midnight every night. Most days are draining so I have to make sure I give myself enough time to sleep and reset my body for the next crazy day!
While the schedule of each day of optometry school may be different, the stress, exhaustion, and difficulty of a graduate-level program is consistent. I try to take the semester one day at a time in order to make it through without getting too overwhelmed. Each day has its own stresses, but each day also brings an opportunity to learn something new about the amazing world of eye care. I know that everything I’m learning will make me a better clinician in the future and it’ll all be worth it in the end.