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Peer Advice: Getting Cold Feet Before Grad School?

Image of student in graduation regalia at a crossroad

Now that you are set to attend the graduate school of your dreams, you may have found yourself listening to the tickling hum of doubt stirring up from your deep thoughts.

Did I deserve a spot in this class? Is becoming an optometrist, or pharmacist, or physician assistant really what I want to do for the rest of my life? Am I making the right choice to invest in these next couple of years of grueling education?

Trust me when I tell you that these thoughts are a good sign. This shows true character of yourself to really look out for yourself no matter how much you may tell yourself or others otherwise. But I am here to ensure you that these are questions that even I find myself thinking from time to time when there are days that feel like an eternity or when you just know that your lick has just hit rock bottom and just about to give things up. But leaving now is just going to make you a quitter and I am here to turn you into a winner.

I want you to rewind to that moment when you received that fateful call from the admissions team. I hope that the memory of that moment where all your hard work had acclimated to that single moment in time when your sweat and tears had finally given a result that you worked hard for. Never mind those quips about whether you are going to be a true doctor or how job saturation is just dreadful these days. Remember you earned a spot in this class that shows your drive to work for those dreams that many others could not have ever dreamed to achieve and you will emerge glorious fast forward a few years from now.

To end this entry, I want to share a story of a patient that continues to inspire me and reignite my passion for the field of optometry during those moments of doubt. She was definitely a strong-minded patient, to say the least. Having a bad impression of doctors and healthcare workers who were always telling her what to eat and how to live her life was the least favorite part of her day. Imagine her consternation when she walked into the optometrist’s office on morning telling her the same news that she had been hearing for practically a decade: manage her sugar. Yet, having a sweet tooth had hardly made a dent to day-to-day life; in fact, the sweet comfort of dessert after a hardy meal was what gave her reason to look forward to the next day given her advanced age.

However, this one visit was a bit different from her other doctors. Her optometrist was asking her about the “bugs” she has been seeing. These ‘bugs’ were like no other she had known before—always darting at the edges of her view and jolting her attention away from her favorite talk show. Her kids and grandkids would constantly poke fun at her growing age for seeing things that were not there. At a certain point, she felt as though her own consciousness might be slipping away and began doubting if she was truly seeing these ‘bugs.’ Yet, having confirmation from her optometrist that those ‘bugs’ were in fact shadows in her vision brought along a startling and horrific realization. Ultimately, she was diagnosed with advanced stage diabetic retinopathy because her condition had gone unchecked for so many years.

Her journey to recovery was not a simple feat. The agony of blurred vision that accompanied the hemorrhage attacks with her advanced stage of retinopathy meant only recognizing the sweet laughter of her innocent grandchildren—a sharp reminder of the consequences having unheeded the warning signs of diabetes for years. The nausea that accompanied each laser treatment and the terrifying worry before each vitrectomy made the fight for her vision even more arduous.

Having experienced being snatched from the joys of vision, created a new profound strength in her daily life. With most of her vision returned, the view of her granddaughter’s wedding from the one of the many aisles along the alter became so much more dazzling, watching her brother raise the toast to his retirement party became so much more sensational, and seeing every new grandchild reach their tiny hands out for a snack became so much more endearing!

Although I wished to have her as my first patient walking into this profession, I know that my grandma will be standard for which I hold for all my patients. She created the drive that makes me want to become the optometrist for another grandma, brother, sister, mom, dad, neighbor, friend or foe. The people who we ultimately serve are the ones that bring out the treasures of our skills that we are taught from day one on this campus. The value of sight was an incredible lesson I learned from my grandma and it is one that inspires my own journey to this day. Perhaps, you have a story of your own that brings you back to why you decided to take those first steps to this school. Look back on those times when you are feeling low or doubtful, and reignite that nostalgic feeling of being unstoppable, because that is how you got here today.

Photo of student with their grandparent