Life Is A Test

It’s ironic that after all my prattling on about basketball these last few weeks, I won’t even be around to watch the Final Four Saturday. Instead, I’ll be at the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis where I’ll be serving as an examiner with the National Board of Optometry. Fourth year optometry students take the Clinical Skills portion of the National Board shortly before graduating, and while for most it won’t be the last hurdle involved in obtaining a license to practice, it is a pretty significant one.

Basically, the students rotate among different stations where they perform various clinical procedures which are commonly done during an eye exam. My job is to “observe and record” whether or not they perform the required procedure correctly. All in all, it can make for a pretty stressful experience for these mostly twentysomethings who have incurred six figure debt and put in four arduous years of study only to have some middle age guy huddled over in the corner deciding their fate with each “yes” and “no” tick of a bubble sheet. I fully expect that most will sail through with flying colors. But there will probably be one or two major meltdowns as well (there usually are).

It seems like just yesterday that I was on the receiving end of such painful probing, and even though I’m prohibited from encouraging or helping them, inside I’ll be cheering on each and every one of them. What they may not realize is that even after passing the test and receiving their diplomas, the examinations will continue. For many there will be additional state board exams to pass, not to mention annual continuing education, some of which will require additional testing to receive credit. And then there’s the test of each and every patient who sits in the chair, the crucible where one finds out what he really knows (and often, what she doesn’t).

As the days turn into weeks, the weeks months, and the months years, there is the test of staying fresh and committed to a profession that can sometimes grind you up and spit you out with its demands for continued excellence and sustained performance (it is highly inadvisable to ever have an “off day” when holding the vision, eye health and sometimes even the life of your patient in your hands).

And if that weren’t enough, there are the tests of staying committed to a marriage, raising a family in an often non-family friendly world, keeping the faith at church when church disappoints and doesn’t keep faith with you, and finding sacred space in a world where profanity and the mundane demands of the day spring up like weeds threatening to choke the very life of the soul.

Life is a test–or, it seems, an endless stream of them. And just like those fourth year optometry students this weekend, I sure hope I pass.

  1. Stoogelover

    If I had to go through a similar testing, I’d want someone like you rating my performance, even though I would not know that you were cheering me on!

  2. Mike the Eyeguy

    Thanks, that’s very kind of you. I just got back, and all the students that rotated through my station managed to make it through with no major meltdowns. Some were smoother than others, but I believed everyone passed.

    I wouldn’t want to have to go through that again, though. There was a whole lot of sweatin’ goin’ on in Memphis this weekend!

  3. Kate


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