A couple of weeks ago while at work I decided that I wanted to learn more optometry. Actually this nerdy side of me has pretty much been ever-present, and in my early days of working I used to totally geek out and read my textbooks and old lecture notes (thankfully those days are mostly over). But on this particular occasion, I decided the best way for me to learn more was to learn off someone, and in this situation I decided my target someone was going to be the oculoplastics surgeon across the road. So I called up and organised a day for me to come in to her clinic and just sit with her for the day. It cost me a day of annual leave from my job.
Yesterday was the day. I took in my notebook (which weirdly enough looks a lot like my final year student diary – see figure 1) and a trusty pen (discovered to be less trusty after it repeatedly stopped working), and from 8.30am to 3pm I sat in with the loveliest ophthalmologist who basically gave me a free private tute on oculoplastics.
I loved it. I watched as she lanced conjunctival cysts, dilated puncta, performed lacrimal lavage, removed lid stitches… but more than that, I watched how she communicated with her patients. It was like they were all her bffls. She was able to make them feel so comfortable and at ease, even with a metal tube stuck down their tear ducts.
She willingly answered each one of my one hundred and one questions, and then just kept talking off on tangents like she couldn’t wait to get all this information out of her head into mine. And at the end of the day – she gave me the cutest little vial of sterile saline because I kept exclaiming how cute and tiny it was (figure 2).
But the ultimate purpose of this post is not to rave about my new all-time favourite ophthal. I believe that an attitude of always wanting to improve and grow is so important to any profession. It benefits your patients and it benefits yourself; it keeps you from getting bored and apathetic about what you do, keeps you from becoming desensitised to the fact that you could actually increase someone’s quality of life by a few notches. If you continue to expand your scope of practice then you’ll find there’s so much more job satisfaction to be had. Always strive to be better – and perhaps one day you too could be gifted the most adorable little vial of sterile saline.