Christopher Quan & Joshua Yim

Southern California College of Optometry 


POSTED ON 09.28.20

Advice Column

Optometry School In A Remote Learning World

In your very hands lies the potential to change lives. From assessing vision, to diagnosing medical conditions, we facilitate patient’s ownership of the eye’s health.  We do it for them. To see the spark alight within their own eyes as they see the world through new eyes.  Optometry is essential to the management of our overall health and as we go through school, we’ve picked up some pearls to successfully navigate optometry school. 


Take the time to stop and smell the roses.  It is often expressed that optometry school is difficult, and that rings true with each passing year.  And with all of that work, it is easy to forget to slow down and enjoy the ride.The key is balance.  Balance between the arduous efforts and peaceful moments.  Practicing self-care and seeking community provides the relief necessary to carry on through the long hours.  Burnout is very real, and school is a marathon, not a sprint.   


Study smarter, not just harder.  In this new world of COVID, enter remote learning with online modules, Zoom meetings and presentations.  We’re physically apart, but able to meet on an online platform to draw more near to each other.  Collaboration with peers serves to reinforce materials for all involved.  Some individuals are more confident and comfortable in certain topics, and in group effort synergy is found. Remember to seek your peers in this time of physical separation. 


Find your preferred note-taking method: digital or paper? A worthy tool to utilize would be a tablet or eye-pad (see what I did there?)  Paper notes can become unwieldy over time and cumbersome to navigate as they accumulate.  Digital notes typically have a smaller footprint and can be much faster with recalling information.  The control and freedom granted by the digital note medium is quite remarkable.  Notes take on a new life with applications galore to cater to the individual’s tastes and needs for their note taking desires.  With all that being said, some may find more success with paper notes, and with proper preparation, these can be just as if not more fruitful.   


Organization will set you free.  With an endless flow of emails, deadlines, and exams to keep up with, calendars help stick to an organized plan to the upcoming excitement that each new day brings. An appropriate schedule will help you keep yourself focused and on track to help you better organize the coming weeks of class and be mindful and aware.  Paper planners are still a useful tool for on the go, free form notation. 


Become involved with organizations at your school.These clubs have been faced with a new challenge of connecting with students in this new world.  Membership or leadership is an excellent tool to facilitate connections with peers of similar interest.  There are clubs that have specific interests, such as low vision or private practice, which may not be as enticing to some, but provide excellent resources for students to explore these to further develop interests or discover new ones. Connecting with practicing optometrists can be more difficult alone, and organizations help bridge that gap and do so in a familiar setting. 


Connect with your upperclassman.  As tough as current struggles may seem, remember that others have shared your experience, and you are not alone.  Seeking counsel with those further in the journey as they can share what has worked for them.   


And most importantly of all: do not forget your “why.”  Why are you here?  Understanding and being mindful of your purpose is just as important as the day to day.  We cannot lose our vision for the future and reassurance of our work.  We have to remind ourselves of our purpose as we carry on in this journey.  I believe that, “smooth seas don’t make good sailors.” Easy is convenient.  But it’s within the struggle we find our strength and learn who we are and what we’re capable of.  Realize the challenge, know you’re not alone, and face it head on.  We’re all excited for you to join us.