A patient asked me a question the other dayits a question that I hear at least 20 times a year and so do you: Do you ever get sick of doing the same ol eye exams day after day?

My answer? Well, Im getting sick of this one. Actually, my real answer is that I have never gotten tired of what I do, and here is the reason: What I do is not all I do. My life is spent in diversity.

Now, it hasnt always been this way. Just like you, Ive gone through many periods of pure career stagnancy. But heres the cure: When you get stagnant in your professional life, get involved in something, buy something, start using something, or read something thats absolutely NON-optometric.

In those 100 years of your education, did you ever take a class that you thought was just so-o-o-o cool and interesting? One semester as an undergrad, I was taking Organic Chem, Genetics, Physics 2, Psych 2, Calculus 3 and Movement. Guess which class I fell in love with? Thats right! Movement! No, this was not a kinesiology class. Movement was in the freakin drama department! All we did was jump around, pretend to be happy and/or angry critters or beautiful and/or wicked sea waves or something and, oh yes, we mimed! To me, after my organic lab yield was pitiful, pretending to be a silent aardvark steadfastly riding a bicycle in pancake syrup was just the ticket. It expanded my mind so I could face the dreaded Dr. Shillingtons wrath for one more lab.

Theres medical stuff you still always need to learn and use, but youll get that all day. Find that other 90% of your brainthe part that secretly likes to watch HGTV or to look at pictures of castlesand do THAT! I guarantee that the more you learn about Dionysius or Homer, the more successful you will be in providing eye care and wear for Irving Dionysius or Homer McNoogle in your office.

What shook me loose from my cage was a newsletter I got in my inbox from optometrist Mike Cohen. He sent me a copy of his e-newsletter OD2OD (subscribe at www.mikesod2od.com or e-mail MikeCohen@MikeCohenOD.com).

First, it took me 10 minutes to actually decide whether to open the e-mail. I kept trying to decide what chemical D2O was. (Look, I already told you about my problems with organic chem.) When I did finally get my nerve up, what I opened was more than a newsletter. It was my tiny, crowded and mostly stagnant mind!

Now, I cannot promise you the same epiphany. I mean, Mike is not Socrates-meets-Confucius, but, for one, he does not take any advertising and receives zero income from his thoughts and musings. On top of that, although his long and varied career in private practice, corporate and educational optometry has given him a very uniquely sophisticated perspective on current topics in our profession and he does indeed use the newsletter to educate THAT part of our lives, Mike also talks food, music, artall the stuff that most of us ignore way too much. This is what gave me a little brain massage. I suddenly remembered that I am not only an O.D. I am a sum of O.D. plus lots of other things. By diversification in the actual use of my mind, I have a new love for all parts of my life!

Whether you look this guy up or not, I encourage you to step away from your career. Read something that has nothing to do with optometry. Beowulf too heady? Then how about Green Eggs and Ham? Youll be a better doctor, doctor, if you diversify before its too late.


Vol. No: 146:04Issue: 4/15/2009