Optometry school is basically a full-time job. There are lectures to listen to, labs to attend, notes to take, skills to practice, assignments to complete, exams to study for and patients to see. Sometimes it feels like there’s no time for anything else. However, the most important thing you can do during optometry school in order to keep up with the intense demand of the program is to always take care of yourself.
That’s really the key to balancing school and life: making time for yourself. That time can be spent any way that’s beneficial for you. Whether it’s working out, taking a nap, spending time with loved ones, playing an instrument or even just watching a Netflix show, it’s important to take time away from your schoolwork to decompress and focus on your own mental and physical wellbeing. This is especially important during those extra stressful weeks in the semester where you have your midterm exams, proficiencies or finals.
Another vital part of optometry school survival is to have a great group of friends. It’s not a program that you can get through alone. Having a solid group of friends who understand what you’re going through and who can be there to study with you, share notes with you, and most importantly, to support you through all of it, is extremely important. I know that I wouldn’t currently be in the middle of my second year if it weren’t for the help and support of the wonderful friends I’ve made here.
Finally, it’s important to not be too hard on yourself if you feel like you haven’t accomplished enough, or if you have a bad day. There are plenty of times during each semester where I’ll make a to-do list of things related to school that I want to and plan on getting done. Then, by the end of the day, I’ve only gotten through half of that list. Sometimes I feel really disappointed, but I have to remind myself that there will ALWAYS be work that needs to get done, and I’m only one person. Or there are times where I take an exam and it didn’t go as well as I had thought or hoped. This can be really discouraging when it happens, but it’s important to remember that as long as you did your best and tried your hardest, that’s really what matters most. I also try to use these experiences as opportunities to improve myself. If I didn’t do well on an exam, I use that as motivation to study harder for that class so I can make sure to do better on the next one.
When you’re in optometry school, I promise these same things will happen to you. Don’t be too hard on yourself and always give yourself some credit for completing even one task on that list, or for just passing that really difficult exam.
Optometry school is not easy. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, commitment and time. But it’s also a lot of fun and as long as you’re passionate about the profession, you will really enjoy it. Always stay focused on your goals and work hard to achieve them, but also make sure to take time away from school to relax and focus on yourself. Succeeding in optometry school really does take a village, so surround yourself with good friends and never be afraid to reach out to them, your family or your professors for help.