These past few weeks of residency have allowed me to start to feel more like a health care provider, slowly but surely. I notice myself trusting my findings and making treatment plans more easily than I did before. I love working at the health center — it’s such a diverse group of people that I’m able to work with on a regular basis. I feel like I travel around the world by a day’s end: Vietnam, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Boston. I’m so intrigued to know more about people’s lives and what has brought them all to this small enclave of Boston.
This past week, I also had the opportunity to attend my first vision screening as a resident. Organizing vision screenings through VOSH was a big commitment of mine while I was a student, and it is rewarding to be able to continue this work to under-served areas within Boston. This new screening opportunity, which takes place in a church basement after a soup kitchen, was started by two third year students who have both recently returned from their first international eye care clinics with a renewed sense of wanting to serve our local community. It was inspiring to work with both of them and be reminded of my own passion for working in these settings.
I truly believe that we are given the opportunity to learn optometry so that we can use that skill to help those in need. And yes, everyone is in need and deserving of good eye care services, but some communities and populations find that service more readily available than others. Every day we are each given the opportunity (in whatever capacity our skills and knowledge render us capable) to make that day better for those with whom we interact.
The other day, I was working with a woman who was blind in one eye, had worsening vision in her good eye, and recently had a number of health ailments that kept bringing her in and out of the hospital. As she was leaving the appointment, she mentioned that she was in a hurry to get home because she would be cooking dinner for 20 members of homeless families who were finding respite at her church. It would be so easy for someone in her position to be fixated on her own medical limitations, but rather, she was spending her evening and her days working with others to make life a bit easier for those in need.
As we each go forward this week, let us try to be cognizant of ways we can help others in our day to day lives. Often it’s something small that can make a big difference for someone else, just by letting them know we care. There are so many things we cannot fix or cure in life, our own or those of our patients, but the way we handle precisely those more difficult situations by our continued dedication to compassion and serving those in need can make a world of difference.