Article Date: 10/1/2012

reflections
reflections
THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY

Making a Change

I didn't want to do it, but I'm sure glad I did.

Ernie Bowling, O.D., M.S., F.A.A.O. , DIPL. Gadsden, Ala.

I am a senior citizen. This is tough for me to admit, but every morning when I see myself in the mirror, there are the telltale signs: the ever-increasing wrinkles, the developing jowls and the growing — and sagging — waistline. Like many of my fellow graybeards, I don't embrace change, so I have not adapted to modern technology as quickly as most. Nowhere is this more true for me than with cell phones.

Old reliable …

I always thought my cell phone should function like a landline phone: It rings, and I choose to ignore it. Some years ago, at the prodding of my tech-savvy offspring, however, I upgraded to one of the first “smart phones.”

Although it boasted Internet connectivity, at the time I declined this feature, thank you very much, opting instead to focus on its PDA and word processor functions. As cell phones advanced they not only got much smaller than my device, they also became married to Internet access.

My cell phone was so big and bulky that when I answered a call, my students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry would mock me by placing their textbooks to their ears. Feeling sorry for me, several of my students showed me their latest devices with Internet access and downloadable applications.

Yet once again being ever-resistant to change, I plodded along with my “antiquated” device. I even went so far as to buy two used cell phones on ebay that were the same kind as my original after my original phone gave up the ghost.

A birthday gift

My son recently requested an iMac (Apple, Inc.) upgrade for his birthday. Shopping for an iMac for me is no different than shopping for shampoo: I have no idea about either.

Dr. Bowling uses his new phone to download medical “apps,” and obtain answers to coding questions.

There at the Apple retailer, among the sleek desktop and laptop computers and thin tablets was a device that caught my eye: An iPhone. The iPhone 4S, to be exact. I'd seen the commercials where actors converse with the device, much like Captain Kirk did on his “communicator” in the original Star Trek episodes. The bottom line: I was smitten.

After some additional visits and encouragement from my family, I finally broke down and upgraded from my old, boxshaped cell phone to a new, sleek iPhone 4S. (Somewhere, my former students are laughing their tails off.)

The discomfort of change

Change forces us to exit our comfort zone. Yet I've come to realize that this discomfort is fleeting and can yield a better quality of life and in regards to our patients, better care.

For instance, had I not “surrendered,” I wouldn't have known about all the excellent and free medical applications available for download with my new phone. The device has quickly become an integral part of my practice. I can search for diagnoses quickly, as well as answers to coding questions. The camera allows me to show my patients pictures of their condition, so it is a great patient education tool. There are apps that enable me to better manage my time, my finances and many aspects of my personal life. It's like the device with its myriad apps can be customized to aid you throughout your day. All in all, joining the 21st century was a great decision — even for an old curmudgeon like me! OM

DO YOU HAVE A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE? DISCUSS YOUR STORY WITH JENNIFER KIRBY, SENIOR EDITOR OF OPTOMETRIC MANAGEMENT, AT (215) 628-6595, OR JENNIFERKIRBY@SPRINGER.COM. OM OFFERS AN HONORARIUM FOR PUBLISHED SUBMISSIONS.


Optometric Management, Volume: 47 , Issue: October 2012, page(s): 72