I’ve always liked to work with my hands and solve puzzles. This trait took me down the path of becoming an Electrical Engineer. I joined a very small start-up company in San Jose, California, but after 10 years in the high tech, Fortune 500 corporate world, I realized that I would need a career change.
I met my spouse in 2002. He had been a COT for more than 15 years already and loved his work. To me, dealing with ‘people’ versus ‘machines’ seemed impossible, but in 2008, ready for a career change, I decided to read the entire COA home study course in one weekend.
I sat up, read each chapter, did all the review content, and passed the home study course within a year. I was just so excited!
In 2012, I started at a practice where I was told I would only ever be a scribe. However, I listened to my doctors treating patients and tried to absorb as much as I could. By my fourth month, I was performing work-ups for our MDs and ODs. I would circle back around after each patient to see if what I did or concluded made any sense.
As soon as I was eligible, I handed my employer my COA application. I studied every night, reading many JCAHPO-recommended educational/study materials, including the JCAHPO Learning Systems CDs, which quickly became my best friends. I passed the exam on the first try and received my COA certification in late 2012.
I began assisting on surgical day in my practice’s ASC, then assisting my MD with the Femto laser. On days where we were short staffed, I would set-up cases and sterile fields and break down rooms after cases, which eventually led to assisting and scrubbing cases. By late 2013, I met the requirements for the OSA certification and submitted my application.
While working multiple roles was a challenge, it quickly gave me the opportunity to excel. I became the lead tech with respect to pre-surgical testing and I was performing IOL-Master and/or Immersions on a daily basis. Wanting to know more, I took a course from a well-known instructor who is well versed in Biometry. I used the ‘red book’ that Sandra Frazier Byrne recommended and put every principle and rule that I learned into my daily routines. Quickly I began to understand that every A-Scan is unique. While techniques may be similar, the patient in the chair makes the event unique.
I tackled the OSA and ROUB exams in 2013, passing each on my first attempt.
I sat for my COT in December 2013, and while I passed the written portion, the Skill Evaluation sent me back to the JCAHPO Learning Systems. My second try was a success.
Folks were just amazed when I brought all of my certificates into the office. While I was proud of myself, the goal of showing my team the certificates was to inspire THEM! When the new Ophthalmic Scribe Certification became available, I told my colleagues, “If you try, I’ll try.” Along with several of my coworkers, I obtained my OSC certification in 2015.
My career move has truly changed my soul. Three and a half years ago, I would have gone out of my way to avoid a casual conversation, but now I love talking to patients! In my future, I see possible NCLE and COMT certifications.
I am a strong believer in certification as it shows, and to a degree proves, a level of competency. Moreover, it shows a level of commitment, which often shows a level of interest, which turns into a level of caring. I treat all patients just as I would demand myself or my parents be treated. At the end of the day, our patient is our bottom line.