Optometric lessons learned from my jet ski

June 19, 2015
Tracy Schroeder Swartz, OD, MS, FAAO

Tracy Schroeder Swartz currently practices at Madison Eye Care Center in Madison, Alabama. She serves as Education Chair for the Optometric Council for Refractive Technology, and consults for industry. She specializes in anterior segment disorders, and be

Being from Wisconsin, I was more familiar with a snowmobile, but a jet ski sounded fine to me. We got two. And yes, they were fun to ride. But I learned a great many things-which I can apply to both life and optometry-from that idiot machine.

There are things that you encounter as you grow up that make you smile so big (or make you unbelievably jealous) that you feel you must have that thing when you grow up.  For my husband, that was a jet ski.

Being from Wisconsin, I was more familiar with a snowmobile, but a jet ski sounded fine to me. We got two. And yes, they were fun to ride.  But I learned a great many things-which I can apply to both life and optometry-from that idiot machine. 

 

1. Read directions

There are reasons why directions are written. In this case, it was so you do not sink your ski. I learned that when you are told do a task a certain way from someone with more experience, you do what he says-in the order he tells you, without fail.

I learned this when we failed to follow the steps, leaving our little drain ports open when we put our ski in the water. Not familiar with this procedure? If you don’t close the holes, water floods your ski and it sinks. The kicker is it sinks slowly so you don’t notice until you are in the middle of the lake. 

Optometry lesson: See one, do one exactly like they did it. Learning a new procedure? Do it exactly like they say until you can rattle of the steps in your sleep. Then you may venture off course because when you burn off that cornea after changing the steps of a betadine treatment, you can fix that in your sleep. 

Related: Dear Optometry's Class of 2015

2. Do not panic

You can always take a breath. Your ski may be two feet below the water line, but you still have time to assess the situation and make a rational decision before it sinks to the bottom of the lake. 

Optometry lesson: This applies to any ocular/medical emergency, including when a patient rubs a hole in her cornea “and stuff squirts out.” Until you have been in an emergent situation, you don’t know how you might react. Take a breath before you do anything, then think through what is going on.

You may have to talk to yourself out loud. This may be confusing to those around you, but do not let it faze you. I put this into motion when my daughter put her arm through a window. My mother thought I was insane listening to my list, but I got my bleeding child to the ER like a pro. And when it is over, you will be amazed that the world kept spinning like your little crisis never happened, and you gain perspective. 

3. Little pieces fall into little spaces and create havoc

 

3. Little pieces fall into little spaces and create havoc

When your husband drops the bolt into the hull of the ski, you must retrieve it. Otherwise, it will bounce around unnoticed until it rips apart the lines of the engine and you are stuck in the middle of lake. (But at least you don’t sink.)

Optometry lesson: Don’t let little things like frequently late employees, dusting counters, poor communication, or cleaning service problems slip through the cracks. What seem like minor concerns become big problems for the engine that is your office. Monthly meetings to address little things often keep them under control.

Related: Earning a spot on the medical team

4. If you don’t tie it up, it will float away

They say if you love something, set it free. That does not apply to boating vehicles of any type. Yes, I admit I did that multiple times, and I am sure I had an excuse every time. But if you like that ski, you need to dock it, and check on it like an expensive racehorse.

Optometry lesson: If you have a great employee, you need to keep her at your side. Do what you can do keep her there. Complement her frequently. Bonus her. Cover her during bad weather, and take her out for lunch on a sunny day. Appreciate her, and let her know she is appreciated.

5. Find a good mechanic

 

5. Find a good mechanic

My husband swears that two happiest days are when you buy a boat and when you sell it. Every day in between, you must have a mechanic on hand to avoid having your day ruined by mechanical mishaps. Unfortunately, finding a mechanic you can trust is a problem. Consider it a quest for Zen.

Optometry lesson: Find the specialist for everything-cataracts, retinal problems, lab work, optical problems, binocular vision problems, accounting questions, EMR, and your computers. That is the beginning of the list. There is someone better than you at most things, and it is best to have him on your team. Respect his knowledge, and do not pretend to know more than he does. You will never know more than your mechanic, so put down the screwdriver.

Related: Mastering our optometric obstacles

6. Prepare to pay significantly more than you planned

No matter how careful you are, at some point, you will hit a log or suck in the towrope. This is not obvious when you are young, and you enjoy channels such as DIY. But when you watch “Love It or List It” more out of necessity than entertainment, you will be more comfortable whipping out the Visa card. And you never know when your trailer will lose its wheel.

Optometry lesson: There will always be challenges, and they are going to cost you money. Plan for it, invest wisely, seek the advice of your accounting mechanic, and then be happy when you say, “Charge that.” And rationalize that the points you get for charging it are worth it.

 

7. Boys should not drive jet skis

That goes without saying. 

Click here to check out more Optometry Times blogs!