As you know, there is a delicate balance between life and career. In optometry, as in all professions, you will stumble upon colleagues who grudgingly go to the office every day, earn an honest living and breathe a sigh of relief when the day is finally over. They try not to take their work home with themnot because theyre slackers, but because they dont want to ruin whats left of the day. These individuals are, quite literally, earning a living. They work only because they need to in order to finance their real lives.

Then, there are others who embrace their work and derive the same degree of joy from it as they do from their personal lives. Im not referring to workaholics who have no life outside of work. Im referring to those who actually find meaning and satisfaction in the daily grind. Its these individuals who generally make the greatest improvements in their respective fields because they love what they do. These are the people who define their chosen professions and who change the world we live in.

Here is a snapshot of some such individuals who are featured in this months issue of Review of Optometry.  (For more, see O.D.s with Multiple Degrees, and Minority Report: How O.D.s Are Meeting the Needs of Underserved Populations.)

 Optometrist Valerie Kattouf has spent much of her professional life providing comprehensive vision care to high-risk children. Two-thirds of her patients are insured through Medicaid; the rest are uninsured. One day, a mother told Dr. Kattouf that she had difficulty controlling her very aggressive son. Upon examination, Dr. Kattouf found that he had high uncorrected myopia (-16.00D). When I put the glasses on him, he immediately relaxed, she recalls. He looked at me and said, Please dont take these glasses off.

 After 17 years in successful veterinary practice, Pete Hall, O.D., V.M.D., announced to his family and veterinary clients that he was giving it all up to attend optometry school. Why? In part, he got bored and ran out of goals to reach for. Putting yourself back into study mode, passing boards and starting again at the bottom of a profession can be humbling and rejuvenating at the same time, he says.

Optometrist Rodney W. Nowakowski also went back to school. But, unlike Dr. Hall, Dr. Nowakowski started out in optometry. He specialized in low vision rehabilitation at the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind, where he saw an abundance of children with hereditary vision loss. He decided that he needed to learn more, so he took a few courses in medical genetics. Before he knew it, he was in the charter Ph.D. class for the medical genetics program, which he successfully completed.

 James R. Sanderson, O.D., is in private practice in the Chicago suburbs and has been a president of VOSH-Illinois twice. During his 20-plus years in VOSH (Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity), he and his wife, Louise, have been on 20 missions. In fact, he uses his own vacation time and pays his own way for the overseas trips.

Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours getting ready for work, working, and commuting to and from work; yet, so few of us relish these parts of the day. I hope that the life stories you read in this months issue help you find any passion that may be missing as you live your career.

Vol. No: 144:06Issue: 6/15/2007