By Judith Whitehead
I have been working for the majority of my life starting as a teenager; my interest always leaned towards the social sciences and the health fields. For the most recent (35) years I have chosen the field of ophthalmology specifically as my calling. I have worn many hats throughout my working years, starting as a student, wife, mother, store owner and always leaning towards the health care professional. I recently have cut my work schedule to three 10-hour days, the least amount of hours I have ever worked in the workforce. Now that I am in my 60s I have begun to notice it has become a little more difficult to rise in the dark to get to work; the body a little less agile as it once was. I have more time to now reflect on the past and what I would like to do with my four-day weekends that presently make me feel like I am on vacation every week. It's not so easy to get to work at 6:30 am as it used to be although I am not your “sleep in” type of person. I have always thought I would be missing the best part of the day if I slept later than 6am.
As I have been working in a “city” practice for the last several years I have experienced many people and their diverse stories that I would have never been in contact with. They have shared their stories with me – both good and bad and have broadened my mind in many ways. Over the last 35 years I have met more people and shared more experiences with them than most people will experience in a lifetime. I have enjoyed working in the medical field immensely but the friendships and acquaintances have meant just as much to be. Their stories and lives shared with me have broadened my mind and have made me a better person. I have learned not to be judgmental of others as it is so easy to “judge a book by their cover.” They have let me into their lives, if only for a moment, that has given me knowledge to grow with. We all encounter people every day whether we are shopping, working or talking on phone calls. Behind every one of those people, lies a story that makes them who they are today. I have been lucky enough to share with them, because of the line of work I am in, their amazing stories and lives. Many of these remarkable people and their stories will stay with me forever; I have shared some of their stories with my husband as dinner conversation for many years which have made us realize just how lucky we have been all our lives.
I will still be making the effort to get myself to work for at least a while longer as it has been not only the best career choice I could have picked but the people and patients themselves that bring me back every day. What started out as just a “job” in my 20's has turned into a life long career that I will carry forever. How lucky am I that I get the chance to walk in their shoes, if for only a moment which has made me realize how good life has been to me; the patients and work staff I have encountered over the years have not only enriched my life but have helped enhance my personal knowledge and growth.
Judith Whitehead is grateful for her career choice, even though she still has to get up too early in the morning.