My name is Missy Young, and I am a second-year optometry student. I graduated from the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine, in 2019 with my B.S. in medical biology. I minored in health, medicine and society. My undergrad had a large pre-med student population (i.e., everything except optometry!) since we had medical, dental and pharmacy schools on campus, so I was fortunate to have a solid background in basic sciences and healthcare headed into optometry school.
Optometry piqued my interest in high school when I got my first pair of glasses. I was fascinated by how a thin piece of plastic (my first pair of contacts) could instantly fix my blurry vision. That same instant gratification still excites me today, except now I have the opportunity to be on the giving end rather than receiving care. Not only can we instantly improve our patient’s quality of life with a pair of glasses or contacts, but we also provide critical primary care and preventative care at every appointment.
I am from Scarborough, Maine, which is about seven hours away from Salus. It was certainly an adjustment moving further away from home, but I got used to it here quickly. You’re so busy in optometry school that you don’t really have time to be homesick. I FaceTime my parents all the time (sometimes just to say hi to my cats) and try to find one or two weekends or breaks a semester to go home. As a second-year student, I am in a mix of classes (virtually), labs and just recently started seeing patients in clinic! This semester was an exciting point of transition from practicing skills and taking practicals in the clinical skills lab to putting those skills to use in real life in clinic.
As cliché as it may sound, I was drawn to Salus based on the feel of the campus. When I interviewed and toured campus, I felt comfortable, and I could see myself learning to be the best doctor I could be here. The faculty, staff and students were kind and welcoming, the facilities were modern and accessible, and the clinic offered a captivating wealth of opportunity. Looking back now as a second year, all those things that drew me in continue to make me glad I chose Salus. Though things look a little different now in the wake of the pandemic, I am still taught by world-class faculty every day, whether in class, clinic or lab. I am lucky to be a part of the community that drew me in; I am a student ambassador, the vice-president of the contact lens club, a peer mentor,and a member of the private practice club.
In optometry school, there really is no such thing as a “typical” day. Every day is different whether we’re in classes all day, seeing patients in clinic, going to labs or maybe we have a free day once in a while! Because of COVID-19, most days involve lots of online classes, which allow for more flexibility during the day. Sometimes this means sleeping in until 9 a.m. on a Tuesday, which can be quite a treat!
I will walk you through my typical day in clinic:
6:30 a.m.: The final time I can hit snooze. It’s an early morning because I have clinic today! The morning starts with a quick shower to wake myself up, some cereal for breakfast, and a quick run-through of my schedule for the day.
7:15 a.m.: I’m out the door with my suitcase full of equipment in hand headed to The Eye Institute (TEI). I live in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, so it takes me about 20 minutes to get to clinic, but I always give myself extra time and like to be early to get set up for the day. Time to crank up some Taylor Swift and hope I hit all the green lights on Old York Road.
8 a.m.: My suite chief likes to give us mini-lectures before we start seeing patients for the day. This is a great chance to learn something new or get a new perspective on a topic you might have forgotten about from a lecture last year. After our morning meeting, it’s time to see patients! As a new-to-clinic second year, I am paired up with one of my classmates while performing exams. My partner and I like to split it up, so one of us performs the exam while the other is scribing. We saw two patients this morning, one with mild diabetic retinopathy, and the other with fairly advanced cataracts; TEI is a great place to see the diseases we learn about in class come to life.
12 p.m.: Done with clinic for the day! Sometimes we have full days, but today wasn’t one of them. So, after completing our patients’ charts and logging our encounters, it’s time to head home. It just so happens I pass a Starbucks on the way home, so you best believe I picked up a strawberry refresher and a sandwich to fuel my afternoon.
1 - 4 p.m.: Time to study and watch lectures. How I use this time depends entirely on what’s coming up. If there’s an exam later in the week, I’ll work on taking notes and compiling my study guide. If we have a lighter week, I’ll work on catching up on watching lectures. With most of our lectures pre-recorded, we can watch them whenever we want, taking as long as we might need (which is great for people like myself who pause all the time to take notes), or if we’re more comfortable with the material, we can watch them quicker. I like to watch the lectures on my computer and take notes on GoodNotes on my iPad – I’m a huge fan of handwriting notes, so being able to do it virtually and keep everything in once place is a dream!
4 p.m.: Time for a workout break. Whether it’s going to my apartment gym, for a walk at Pennypack trail or just doing some at-home yoga, I like to try to incorporate some sort of exercise into my day. It also helps give me a second wind on a long day like this because I’ll start to get tired around this time!
5 p.m.: Dinnertime! This can range from a box of mac and cheese to a full-fledged homemade takeout meal depending on the day. Today was a mac and cheese day – no shame.
6 - 8 p.m.: Back to studying. This isn’t always my most productive time of day, but I like to try to accomplish a few more things so I can relax for the rest of the evening. Tonight consisted of working on a presentation on proliferative versus non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy for my clinical problem-solving class.
8 - 10 p.m.: Time for a break! This usually involves my roommate and I watching a few shows on Netflix and hanging out. Cookies or popcorn are frequently involved. I’m lucky to have a built-in best friend in my roommate. We compare notes about what we saw in clinic that day, what we accomplished (or didn’t!) and what’s on the plan for the next day. Living with someone who knows exactly what you’re going through because they’re doing the same thing makes grad school a lot more bearable!
10 p.m.: Time to start shutting down for the day. Since it was such an early morning and full day, I don’t try to push myself to get any more studying done. I’m typically more of a night owl and sometimes do some of my best studying between 10 p.m. and 12 a.m., but today is not one of those days.
12 a.m.: When I actually fall asleep after the daily dose of scrolling through Instagram and TikTok (we all do it!). Time to get some rest and do it all again tomorrow.