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Changing Tides

By Jeannene L. Dieter, OD

There are so many different chapters in life. I am reflecting as I complete my 30th year in practice. For me, much of the joy in clinical practice is the connecting with patients and building of relationships. Word-of-mouth compliments were always my very best referrals.

The population that I serve is largely geriatric. Now my patients are coming to me much older and often sick. I find more and more of them in the obituaries. This is taking an emotional toll. I am wondering if there are others out there like me, and if this is part of the circle of practice?

My skill set excels in face-to-face communication, not in technology. Some of you do not know it yet, but it is no exaggeration that “change” becomes more difficult as you age. I am so heavily conflicted by the burden of regulation when these patients truly need more time. You move slowly when your body is ravaged by the horrors of dementia, Parkinson’s, stroke and cancer. My referral sources are drying up and I, too, am drying up. But I am still too young to retire. I didn’t save enough along the way (you young girls, pay attention here). I didn’t recharge enough along the way. I have been all in. I am wondering if I am becoming “burned out”?

I have experienced several modes of practice and want to keep evolving if possible. Time to explore new dimensions. How ironic that my youngest son has sparked and interest for me in the subject of “concussions.” A hot topic.

Emerging research and the opportunity to work with a different population subset—youth. I have been working with area schools and youth athletic leagues for screening protocols using the King-Devick test app. This is an OD-designed program that is finding new use in the tool box for working with traumatic brain injury. I am hopeful that I can find energy to make new connections and make a difference. There is tremendous push back and lack of interest. Another area where we need better education and culture change.

What an amazing profession we chose, but it is time for me to somehow step out of the exam lane—and the computer is ruining my posture! If you are a baby boomer out there, struggling to find your way, send me an email. I would love to hear your story.

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