Aloha future colleagues!
I wanted to put together a few tips to help you venture through your course. If you are an orthoptist or yet to be one be sure to comment below and share your handy dandy tips.
Just remember whatever you do, don’t panic! Never panic! As I look back, I realised it was not worth the panic and stress. As for those of you who are closer to graduation, keep an eye (or two) out for my next post suggesting tips to consider at work (clinics).
- Get organised. Keep track of your courses and create a simple routine that can easily be followed everyday or slightly altered when necessary.
- Use flashcards and diagrams to simplify theory. Diagrams will help in understanding neurological pathways. Use tables to compare differential diagnosis. This will help you easily get on top of the numerous conditions, feel less overwhelmed and more like a pro.
- Practice makes perfect. Know the times the clinical rooms are free and grab a friend or family member to practice as much as you can. Maybe take a video to watch it over and over when not using the clinical room. When in clinical placement, don’t be shy. Grab every opportunity to practice.
- Fetch used ophthalmoscope. Often uni will require you to purchase your own mini orthoptic kit consisting of an opthalmoscope and some occluders. During class, we sometimes shared equipment or used the ones provided by uni. When it came to OSCES we had to use our own. You can easily borrow a friend’s or simply buy a second hand. I will promise these will be much cheaper and as new (since they are not used extensively). You will also not need these kits at work.
- Vision testing. Most students during their VA OSCE forget to ask the patient to cover one eye. Make sure the patient is fully corrected, properly covering one eye and remember to follow with pinhole! Also, examiners seem to be a little amazed by the staircase method. Do it for the sake of marks!
- HVF testing. Always make sure the setting is set to the eye that is being tested. You might correctly patch the right eye but still go on and test the right eye. Sometimes it is a lag in the machine. Just double check.
- Machine Testing. Regardless of the machine, if everything is right and you are still failing to focus; Check the patient’s positioning. They may start off correctly but often drift off. Always double check their head and chin are placed in their dedicated spaces. Always keep reinforcing instructions as some patients may easily get distracted “keep watching the red star, don’t look away, I will let you know when you can blink etc”.
- Ocular motility testing. Never conduct ocular motility with glasses! They can form a “blind spot” or disturb person’s binocular single vision.
- Subjective refraction. Always fully correct the sphere before moving onto the next step (watch out for minus eating myopes: Ask the patient is it clearer and darker or darker and smaller?? The latter is overcorrected).
- Bonus tip for VIVA: Easily Pick up SO palsy. Deviation is worse on opposite gaze, and worse on same-side head tilt. I don’t know of a mnemonic to help you remember it. But, just memorise it.
Good luck future orthoptists 😁