Three years in practice of my profession of optometry, I think back fondly to my years at university studying for this dear profession, greatest time of my life.
We would walk around campus with our heads high carrying our silver trial cases with such pride, why wouldn't we? we were going to go out and make a difference in society, help people see better, we had a mandate: to provide clear comfortable single vision and to educate society about eye health.
We were trained an all there is to know about eye anatomy, physiology, vision and its anomalies, how to correct and manage these, taught ethics and what is expected of health care professionals, lastly in final year taught a vague course in management. On completion we took and oath to serve our patients and the communities we will be working with.
Now this was all just great until I started practicing so-called private optometry. Things like turnover, overheads, staff-management, client service (note how terminology changes from patient to client) sales, debtors, credit control etc. started popping up and began to realise that I was way out of my depth.
I speak of optometry as a career because I am more familiar with it but I believe that this problem exist in most professions. Tertiary institutions do a fine job in training academics and professionals but do not prepare them for the outside world. as a qualified optometrist I knew nothing about being a salesperson, a manager and a businessperson, these are things that i had to learn as i went along
While we can't all do degrees in commerce (someone needs to help people see better) , a curriculum review to incorporate a bit more commercial knowledge of most of these professions would go a long way in giving realistic expectations of what students will have to deal with in the outside world.
Education is a beautiful thing, but it is of very little significance if it does not help those who have it to improve their lives, that of their families and the country's economy at large.
Sadly considering the levels of indebtedness, the financial status of most graduates was much better off when they were still students and receiving allowances from their parents.
Curriculum reviews are probably farfetched at this point so my advice to all aspiring professionals and those in the field already would be: get informed, read books, educate yourselves about business and other relevant matters.
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