Wānanga- Continued Personal Development

In my final year of my Bachelor of Science at Otago, my major was Anatomy; I was fascinated by how the body was made up and how it worked. Besides, if I was going to study something in order to gain the marks I needed to get on the path towards my dream Optometry career, then why not study something I am passionate about.

One of the papers I did in this anatomy major was Neuroscience. Our lecturer, Associate Professor Beulah Leitch, was busing telling us about neurons and Alzheimer’s and Schizophrenia when she said to us, “A Professor once told me: the more you know about the brain, the more you realise you don’t know about the brain.” It is a statement which I have heard in many forms over the years and always sticks. My understanding of it is this: the pursuit of knowledge is never ending. On the flip side, however, “You now know more than you ever have before” or more simply as Biggie Smalls puts it “If you don’t know, now you know.”

Like Neuroscience, the great thing about my profession of Optometry is there is always more to learn. In August this year, I was lucky enough to go to my yearly continued professional development event (CPD). As an Optometrist you are required to attend or partake in a certain amount of CPD every two years; made up of clinical skills and general skills. My 2016 conference of choice was SnowVision in Queenstown New Zealand, and as the name suggests, involves snow sports. It was full on; lectures from 6:30-9:30am, into snow gear and onto the mountain bus at 9:50am for some skiing/snowboarding and back on the 3pm bus down the mountain for afternoon seminars from 4-7pm. After lectures came the chance to indulge in social happenings, mulled wine and incredible food. When I woke at 5:30am on Sunday morning to catch my Air New Zealand flight home,  I was feeling particularly weary and I took half the week to recover.

I feel privileged to be part of a profession which fosters learning and as it is a requirement to practice, many employers across the Optometry industry pay or subsidise the opportunity to partake in further learning. But for me, learning does not simply stop at my profession. My profession is not who I am, it is part of what I do and something I am extremely passionate about but this is the 21st century and no-one fits neatly into a box of their profession and profession only anymore.

Those of you who follow my Instagram will know I’m nuts for deer farming, and at the start of this year completed a Level 3 Certificate in Deer Knowledge from Telford. My dream is to one day own my own Deer farm and restaurant (again, those who see my Instagram will see plenty of food), so as part of fulfilling this dream I am putting in place steps to achieve this goal: Next year I plan to be in Primary ITO‘s first intake of their practical block courses on Deer Farming.

From my interest in Deer farming I have become interested in Healthy Rivers Legislation. With the help of my amazing girlfriend; Alex Pole, we have been in contact with Farmers, Directors and Councillors exploring the impact that this will have on our country and learning more and more knowledge on this. Surprisingly I have found my Twitter to be an awesome resource for this, as many rural publications share information on their twitter handles and a surprising number of young and innovative farmers use the platform to share their lives and experiences, as well as communicate.

Just because you have finished Uni or a qualification and have your expensive piece of paper does not mean the learning has ended. I believe there is a paradigm shift in the world that has come about from the internet and the sharing of knowledge. It’s our time to access this knowledge and use it for good, to be more open minded, more understanding and more accepting of everyone who is out there and that every meeting or opening of a post is a chance to learn. Also, just because we have a particular qualification or work in a particular field, it does not define us and through our ability to learn and adapt, we can continue to explore our curiosity and live fulfilling, empowered lives.

Let me know what awesome things you’ve been exploring, or if you want to connect on the above topics, lets chat!

Photo-credit to my girl Alex Pole

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