In Optometry School, Balance is Key

December 11, 2018

Shanae is a student at University of Pikeville, Kentucky College of Optometry

written by Shanae Scott

Maintaining a healthy and balanced life is crucial for everyone, especially if you are pursuing higher education. I have found this especially true when in optometry school. Many students, including myself, can over work themselves and lose sleep which can lead to increased stress and anxiety. However, as important it is to study, we must all take a step back from time to time in order to reevaluate our lives and ourselves. What I have gathered from experience, advice from fellow classmates, along with my professors is to maintain a normal routine along with setting goals and limits. We are not superheroes. Fatigue is something that we sometimes battle and must overcome.

Studying is important, but having a full day of class and labs day in and day out can certainly take its toll. I have learned that it is ok to take some time off before jumping back into your studies after a long day. For me, this time off includes working out, dinner and preparing for the next day. Many of us are sleep deprived, so it’s important to stay on a normal sleep schedule. For instance, many of my classmates get to bed around 10 pm or 11 pm after studying for a few hours. In addition to this, when I am studying, I study in 20-30 minute intervals, followed by a 5 or 10 minute break. Shorter study sessions has allowed me to be more focused on what I am reviewing and it has allowed me to retain what I have learned. This has benefitted me when I am studying for exams.

On weekends I maintain a similar routine. I block out several hours for studying, but I also have time set aside to catch up with friends and family. I have found that it is crucial to keep in touch with loved ones at home. I know many of my classmates can attest that keeping an open line of regular communication is essential for maintaining a balanced life while embarking on our educational journey. A phone call, video chat session, or even a text updating those you care about on your progress can make a difference. Lastly many of my classmates and I have found that taking a night off once in a while is also beneficial. Burn out is something some students face. My schedule on the weekends may be that I am reviewing lecture material during the day and then enjoy the rest of my night off from school by relaxing.

Besides study schedules, working out and taking off for personal time, getting involved with club organizations, networking and attending conferences is vital. It is crucial to be involved in the industry and as a student, it helps to reaffirm all the lessons we have been taught in the classroom. It’s a chance to apply the knowledge and become better leaders. It’s a chance to observe how other students and Doctors of Optometry have persevered through struggles, trials and tribulations, and it is a chance to give back. I can say that being involved in clubs, conferences, etc. helps to put what I am doing into perspective and to keep the passion that is in my heart to help those in need. I believe that applying these strategies helps me balance studies, my personal life and extracurricular activities.