I recently had the great pleasure to lecture to the residents associated with the School of Optometry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. I always find great joy in lecturing to students and, in particular, residents. While I have been fortunate to give numerous continuing education lectures to current practitioners, there is nothing like giving a lecture to residents, whom I find the most eager to gain advanced clinical knowledge.
For the rest of us, suffice it to say that life goes on, and “spinning the dials” can get old with time. Many things can get in the way of our once-true professional passion. Third-party payers. Social media. Online contact lens prescribers. Staff issues. Upset patients. Family life. The list is endless. How do we keep ourselves motivated and passionate about our profession?
First, I think it is important that we never stop learning. Think like a resident. Engage with those who know more, and never be afraid to ask a question. Learn new technologies, and introduce them in your practice.
Second, be passionate. As Steve Jobs said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
Third, laugh at the unanticipated, especially when it involves you! I once was asked to help a student with a series of contact lens optics problems. I spent considerable time with this student, and I was feeling rather fulfilled thinking about how helpful I had been. As we finished, the student got up, shook my hand, and said “thanks anyway” as he left my office. My jaw dropped, but then all I could do was smile and say “better luck next time.”