In this video interview, we sit down with Tyler Leuenberger to discuss choosing the best optometry externships.
For optometry students, externships and clinical rotations can be challenging to negotiate: how do you choose the best rotations, and how can you get the most out of your externship experience?
As host of “The Vision,” a vlog series that focuses upon providing practical guidance for optometry students, Tyler Leuenberger is uniquely positioned to answer these questions. Tyler, who is himself a fourth-year student at Arizona College of Optometry, shares his advice on this topic with Dr. Matt Geller.
To pick his own rotations, Tyler carefully consulted a student handbook that included comments and five-star ratings of all the sites. He tried to find a location with quality doctors, good student reviews and a specialization that was of interest to him. (Tyler was interested in specialization rather than primary care.) It was also important to him that a site have high-quality preceptor.
Once you’ve started your rotation, it’s important to focus upon your relationship to patients.
“The initial encounter with a patient is so crucial, because building rapport will make the patient trust you more, when you have a good initial encounter.” He recommends speaking with your patients as soon as you sit them down. “I try to not go right to the computer and type away because that seems ingenuine.” Eye-contact and active listening serve to put the patient at ease, as well as to help the practitioner better understand each patients perspective.
Tyler cautions us against being too eager to diagnose patients without adequate information. “Take a step back, check in with your preceptor, give them the whole case, and then deliver everything at the very end.” This will help students to avoid the danger of misdiagnosis, which can cause patients unneeded distress, especially in the case of more serious
Tyler agrees with Dr. Geller that it’s important to provide patients with clear, articulate, non-technical explanations that include relatable analogies. He also stresses the important of giving patients a clear prognosis – patients want to understand what is happening to them. Finally, it’s important to be (or at least seem) confident. “Even if you’re not feeling confident, act like it. You went through your pre-clinic proficiency, you know what to do … this is your time to adjust and become a doc.”