I thought about going back to school long before my life became a melodramatic episode of some cheap sit-com. I was going to go to a physician assistant program. I figured out what I was going to do, I told everyone what I was going to do, and promptly did nothing about it. Until my girlfriend, now wife, told me, “do it, or shut up about it.” I knew right then and there, I was going to marry that woman.
I began to take night classes at the local community college for the prerequisites of the physician assistant program I was planning on applying to.
I ran into one little snag though, I needed organic chemistry.
The last time I took any chemistry was over seven years ago and no university was going to let me, just take organic chemistry, without retaking chem I and chem II. Trust me, I tried. As it turned out, I also needed microbiology, physics II, and calculus.
I wasn’t going to be taking a few night classes and then apply. Not going back to school was seeming like a better idea. However, the doctor that I was working with was in jail awaiting his trial, and my contracting company wasn’t going to pay to relocate me. I saw the writing on the wall.
I put in my two weeks notice and became a full-time student. I began working for my father in law, an optometrist (yes, I did marry that woman).
I began working part-time when I wasn’t in school in order to help make ends meet. Being curious and having a father-in-law who is eager to teach, I began to learn. I suspect my father-in-law knew that once I learned how to use a phoropter and a retinoscope I would become hooked. He was right. I vividly remember the moment that set me into the field of optometry. I remember un-occluding the patient’s right eye after I refracted her left eye. I asked the patient how the chart looked and her response was,
“Oh, oh my gosh, it looks crystal clear, thank you.”
I was six feet off the ground. What could be more rewarding than helping people see? Why would you ever want to do something else?
My path to optometry was unconventional and I changed my mind, a lot. If I could give one suggestion, it would be to shadow as much as you can. If you’re lucky, get a job in whatever field you’re planning on going into and listen to those the people you are shadowing. Chances are, they’ll tell you to get into optometry.