What My Residency Taught Me

Christina M. Sorenson, OD


August 13, 2013

My residency taught me how to think critically. Yes, I learned more than this, but essentially it boils down to thinking like a doctor.

I discovered that you don't have to be the class valedictorian to be an excellent clinician. "Blasphemy!" you say? "Nay!" I reply. When a solid understanding of "if this, then that" is married to a foundation in basic and clinical science, your path toward excellence becomes clear. Top this with a mentor who provides feedback and poses the critical question at the appropriate time, and voilà -- a strong clinician is born.

Residencies in optometry have very dedicated and skilled optometrists who provide the scaffolding for the resident to flourish. At the beginning of any residency, the attending optometrist is intimidating and seemingly magical. They ask the right questions, perform the correct tests, order the diagnostic images, and manage the patient seamlessly. As the residency progresses, behaviors are modeled. The novice begins to see the day-to-day dedication to lifelong learning undertaken by the attending optometrist. The latest articles are shared and discussed. Research is reviewed. New guidelines are incorporated into practice. Evidence-based medicine is practiced. The dedication to excellence is learned.

My residency taught me how to think critically, how to work really hard, how to take responsibility for outcomes, how to interact with other professions, how to appropriately hand off a patient, how to chart effectively, how to use ramen noodles in 101 ways, and how to drink scotch. Yup, I learned a lot of life skills in my residency.


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