Optometrists – the middle child of the eye care provider family?

13 09 2012

Having been in practice for almost a decade in different countries, provinces and cities – having worked for, with and trained students, optometrists and ophthalmology residents and doctors I have noticed a familial resemblance.  That is to say, the 3 O’s of eye care: ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians bare a striking similarity to a 3 child family.  All with their strengths and weaknesses, but undoubtedly  wrought with family drama based on years of living in the same house!

The problem with this is similar to that in a family – those that dwell on the conflict and try to out-do one another often have restrained success or no success at all.  In some cases an older brother and sister fighting over who owns the ball can distract both from seeing younger sister shooting hoops with it in school yard…and doing well.  In fact, while bro and sis are fighting, younger sister is doing so well that she hones her basketball craft to an Olympic worthy performance.  In that case the fighting siblings may still feel shortchanged in that the ball didn’t belong to younger sister both missing the chance to celebrate the success of the entire family.

The colleagues I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the last decade all have an opinion on who we are in the 3 O family, while at the same time struggling with what that definition implies about our behaviour.  That ‘branding’ of an entire profession has serious implications and drawbacks which fuel a generational battle for space.  This generational battle may in fact be hiding the meaningful wins of each individually, preventing the celebration of said contribution.  It may hinder collaborative efforts and therefore put our prime directive at jeopardy – to save vision.

Altruistic?  Maybe. There are some positives of having an individual role in a family.  It breeds healthy competition, individuality while giving each the taken-for-granted safety net of a family.  A family, that when challenged will rise to the occasion to succeed a common goal.

I am an optometrist and I love my profession in what it allows me to do and who it allows me to be.  I love that my allies skill sets overlap my own and that where I may excel, they may not and vice versa.

I am in fact the youngest of 3 in my actual family.  I was the last to come out, the first finish Mario Brothers, and always got my brothers clothes passed down to me as a child.  I feel stronger for this history – better prepared for good and bad to come.

Until next time –

dr.m

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