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Five Things I Wish I Knew During My First Year as an OD

Dr. Cornwell-Young talks about five things she wished she knew
Dr. Makayla Cornwell-Young

By Makayla Cornwell-Young, OD, Southern College of Optometry ’23

Editor’s note: Dr. Makayla Cornwell-Young posted the content below on her LinkedIn page. It’s excerpted here with her permission.

Wow, time flies! It’s been exactly one year since I graduated from optometry school. Reflecting on this past year, I wanted to share a few things I learned during my first year flying solo.

LOCAL CONNECTIONS

Whether that be with other optometrists or ophthalmologists, I highly suggest branching out and meeting your local eye care professionals! We are all serving the community in our own ways and creating a communicating relationship can really fill the gaps in patient care.

SHIFT IN SCOPE

I have found that many of my patients do not know much about the medical side of optometry. Refraction will always be our bread and butter, but with the recent changes to education, our vision exams have become a lot more health comprehensive. Spending an extra couple of minutes explaining findings to the patient has instilled confidence and trust that I am addressing all of their ocular health needs—not just glasses!

THE AGE COMMENTS

As with any other young professional, it can be exhausting hearing the comments about looking “too young to be a doctor.” Easier said than done, but taking them with a grain of salt and having a default response ready can really help defuse the situation and move onto the exam. As annoying as they may be, the comments are generally made to be a compliment!

PROVIDING THE BEST CARE

I believe that one of the most important things to remember as a new graduate is when to say “no,” or when to refer a patient to another provider. Whether that be treating something you’re unfamiliar with, a second opinion for a diagnosis or you just don’t get along very well with the patient… it is more than okay to refer out.

TIME OFF

The subsequent months after finally graduating from optometry school are going to be the final time you have a true “break.” Make sure that you are making the most of that downtime and enjoy your life outside of school. I know you’ll be eager to start practicing, but you have the rest of your career to work— RELAX!

Happy graduation month and congratulations to all the new ODs! We are so happy to have you as a part of our eye care community.

Read more about the class of 2023 here.

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