Chairs Missing by Joe, resident at the New England College of Optometry


Half Measure

Well, just like that, 2013 is over. And while everyone celebrates the New Year, for the NECO residents, the start of 2014 only marks the halfway point for us until our 12 months of extra training ends. The start of 2014 comes with some dialing up of what we need to do to complete our training, both inside the program and with respect to our futures outside the bubble of academia. We will have much more on our collective plates before we finish versus the first half, not just in extra responsibilities at work, but also in terms of doing research projects, writing papers, thinking about post residency jobs and even figuring out what state we we might be moving to or getting licensed in once it wraps up. There is a lot to consider, and its almost overwhelming to think about. But more on that in a minute.

First I wanted to comment on, and maybe sort of mourn, the passing of the year 2013. The process of leaving my philosophy grad program and re-inventing myself as a health sciences person was an intense 7 year journey, and during the process it was all about the lead up to 2013. I could imagine the year 2013 like some carrot on a stick in front of me, pushing me forward no matter how painful the interluding tasks were. It was the year I targeted as the soonest possible start of a better future for my wife and me. It was the year I could soonest become an eye doctor, when we could finally put aside school, settle down and start doing real adult things (house, cars, kids?). In short, it was an event year that seemed like it would never come. But then it came and went much quicker than I expected. And now that it's come and gone, it's a little weird to think of it as being in the past. The class of 2013 is already old news, already out and living the dream, so to speak, me along with everyone else. I'm not sure if I'll ever think of a year in that same way; I guess once you're done with school, some exact date maybe doesn't stand out so much. Now it's all about setting loose goals and figuring out a rough timeline with which to achieve them.

2014 has a much different feel, although in a way, June 30th, 2014, is a sort of motivating symbol of sorts. It's the last day of residency and the image of a counting-down clock has started to creep into the back of my head, reminding me of all the things I have to get done before then. So unlike wanting time to accelerate as I did in early 2013, I wish things could slow just a bit so I can get stuff done. In the next few months, I have to write a publishable quality paper based on clinical research that I've been collecting. I haven't really decided how I should format it; we can either do a case report on an interesting patient we've seen, or otherwise crunch numbers on findings from many patients. I can't really decide. I also have to turn that into a condensed presentation which I will give at the end of year residency conference. It's going to be a lot of work. On top of that, I need to do at least one more presentation for the VA's hospital rounds geared toward a more general, non-eye audience. And then, of course, start looking for my possible forever job. Yikes!

So as 2014 gets rolling, it seems like I will have little time left to look back and reflect on 2013, and that will probably show in the remaining posts I have left. As busy as I anticipate I'll be, at least there will no shortage of things to write about here as far as anxiety about the future. So see you next month, where I think the topic will be:  moonlighting  with a private practice part time during residency, the pros and the cons. Stay tuned.