After my junior year of high school, I knew it was time to get a job to help pay for college. Luckily, I had a job opportunity in my back pocket.
How did I get my job?
To be honest, I did not find my job in a traditional way. There was no resume required, no Linkedin, and no sign anywhere stating there was a job opening. However, in October of 2022, when I was at the eye doctor for a routine eye exam, I told the doctor about my fondness for all things science and medicine. Upon hearing it, the doctor offered me a summer job working at her office as a technician. As a young woman who desperately wanted to wear scrubs and start work in the medical field as soon as possible, it was an offer I could not refuse.
After I left the office, I kept thinking about how amazing it would be to work there and become immersed in a clinical setting at such a young age. However, I definitely had my doubts. Am I too young to do this type of work? Is it too complicated to have as a first job? Can I handle the responsibility? Will I be good at it?
Nevertheless, when summer rolled around, I contacted the doctor and secured my spot as another one of her technicians.
What Exactly do I do There?
When I work, I typically do a mix of filing and patient pre-exams. As for the former, I pull patient charts for upcoming days, call patients to confirm appointments or ask if they would like to make new appointments, and fax documents to other doctors offices. Even though this aspect of my job is important and I’m grateful to be able to do any type of work, taking patient histories and working with the machines is far more interesting.
As for patient histories, I ask them medical questions and fill out a card that the doctor will see. Some of the questions include asking patients about any current medical conditions, conditions that run in the family, and what prescription medications they take. Through these histories, I get to learn a lot about the patients and understand certain aspects of their lives. I’ve been able to learn how to ask questions to get all of the information that the doctor may need to help the patient. I’ve also gained general knowledge of different diseases that patients may have and medications that they may take. Apart from this part of the pre-exam, I also work with various machines that take readings of the patient’s eyes. Some of the machines include an auto-refractor, glaucoma test, retinal photograph, and OCT (optical coherence tomography).
During both parts of the pre-exam, I get to connect with patients through hearing their stories, laughing at their jokes, and sympathizing when they tell me just how much they hate the glaucoma machine (the one that shoots that startling puff of air in your eye).
Though I briefly mentioned them above, the machines have possibly been the hardest part of my job to learn. Being able to get accurate readings using the auto-refractor or images using the retinal photograph was extremely difficult at first. The machines require good dexterity, patience, and skill, all of which I’m still in the process of perfecting. However, I love working with the machines because it is something I can do to help both the doctor and the patient. The auto-refractor allows the doctor to get a baseline reading of a patient’s prescription, speeding up the eye exam process. The glaucoma test, retinal photograph, and OCT help check to see if the patient has any ocular hypertension, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, or any other conditions of the eye. Though I am not the doctor who makes all of the diagnoses, being able to play a small part in helping patients get the care they need is extremely rewarding and without a doubt, the best part of my job.
I truly do enjoy and love my job but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t challenging and tiring at times. A main part of the job is being able to complete patient pre-exams efficiently, especially when we get backed up. Still being relatively new, this gets complicated with all of the questions I have to ask and tests I have to run. Also, there are so many little nuances to my job that I must remember to ensure the flow of patients runs smoothly. It is times like this where I question if I’m cut out for medicine or if I’m too young for the job but whenever I have these feelings, I remember to be kind to myself because I am still learning and always trying my hardest. Though it’s not always easy to be kind to yourself, it is an invaluable skill to learn which will help you become a more tenacious person.
Ultimately, this is an amazing experience that I know will greatly benefit me when I’m older and hopefully working in healthcare. I am so grateful for this opportunity and despite it being challenging, I know that it is important for me. Whenever you can, you need to challenge yourself.
I want to end this article by giving anyone who doesn’t feel good enough some advice: just go for it, even if it’s scary or difficult. If I didn’t just bite the bullet and leave my worries about not being good enough behind, I would have missed out on an incredible experience that may help me with my career in the future. Even if you’re young, like me, know that you can still do challenging and amazing things which can make an impact on the world. You may not be given the same opportunities as others and that’s okay. Unfortunately, not everyone is always lucky in the same way but as with all things in life, it is extremely important to believe in yourself and try your best. Remember that you are not alone and there are so many people in the world cheering you on.