the oral interview…

“So last night as I was closing up my binder of notes, I ran across some notes I had about magno and parvo cells and thus ended up dreaming all night long about them”

This was the text message I received on my way into the office this morning from the COVT candidate I’m mentoring.  We’ve spent several nights on the phone over the last three weeks, some pretty late, discussing and reviewing material in preparation for the oral examinations next week in Orlando. Knowing how far she has come, and clearly seeing how prepared she is, dreaming about it can only mean one thing. She’s ready.

I completed my certification in 2008 in Palm Springs.  Growing up in California the homecoming was bittersweet. It’s always nice to visit home, but I was VERY nervous about my oral exam. To add to the pressure, my family decided to make the drive from San Francisco to join in my celebration which was very nice, but only added to my stress because what if I didn’t pass? I arrived in Palm Springs the night before my exam, without a hitch. Flight was smooth and on time and the drive to the hotel was great – there is nothing like driving through California’s hill country in September and October.  A time they refer to as Indian Summer, the air is warm, dry and brings out the smells of the vegetation. Thinking about it always brings a smile to my face. Now included. Arrived at the hotel and went to bed very nervous about the next day’s events. I barely slept.

The next morning was filled with nervous energy. Took a shower, ate breakfast without remembering to taste my food, walked aimlessly around the beautiful property that was the hosting resort, took another shower and then decided to read through my Open Book Questions again just in case I had missed something.  Who was I kidding?  At that point, I was so nervous that my paper could have listed the winning lottery numbers for the next ten years, I wouldn’t have remembered. A few hours passed, seeming like days. Linda Sanet mentored me through my certification and if you know nothing else about Linda, you should know she is very thorough; a comforting fact as my time to shine drew closer because I knew that Linda wouldn’t have let me get this far with knowledge missing. Finally, it was time to go. I put my suit on and walked to my interview. Showtime.

Unlike others I’ve spoken to about their certification, I didn’t want to know who my interviewers were going to be.  A list is usually posted a few hours ahead of time and I deliberately avoided contact with anyone who had knowledge of it.  I was already nervous enough without knowing who I would be facing, and besides, it shouldn’t matter.  It didn’t change what I was capable of.  As I took a seat in the waiting area my interviewers came out and greeted me, both smiling and offering a handshake. Here we go.

We all sat at a round table and began to chat. To my surprise they were both joking a bit and trying to help me relax, which honestly would have been like trying to hold the ocean back with a broom at that point, but it was appreciated.  There were questions about basic items like lenses and prisms, questions about accommodation and vergence, questions about red and green and a few about the way I had worded thoughts on my Open Book Questions.  Sometimes the written word and the spoken word can be interpreted differently, so they were just offering me the opportunity to explain myself.   Both interviewers were very kind and understanding as I fumbled my way through.  Just like that, they both stood up, again offering a smile and a handshake, and I was excused. Fastest 30 minutes of my life.

I walked back to my hotel room in a fog, trying to absorb what had just happened.  Was I good enough?  Did I screw something up?  Were my explanations clear enough? No sooner had I removed my tie that my phone began to ring, a call from a mysterious number.  When I answered, the voice introduced himself as Dr. Fortenbacher and I held my breath as he shared the news. I passed. He didn’t know it, but I was jumping up and down with joy before we got off the phone; I thanked him and we hung up. What a great feeling! The rest of that week is a blur of excitement, but I promise you, a smile was glued to my face morning, noon, and night.

Many people that will read this are planning to undertake the oral examinations next week.  If you’re anything like me, you’re becoming more and more nervous as the day draws closer.  If I can offer you one piece of advice though, it would be to try to relax and enjoy it.  Remember, when you give something your best, only good things can happen.  You’ve come so far and learned so much, and now it’s your turn to shine.

Wishing all FCOVD and COVT candidates some sound sleep and the best of luck in the coming days! 🙂


Posted on October 3, 2013, in From My Perspective.... Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. With five therapists from our office going for certification this year– there is a lot of nervous energy. The process has been great. Your blog is so timely, thank you!


  2. Well-put, Robert! Always nice to hear the description fromt he other side of the table. 😉


  3. Thank you for the kind words Robert, though at the time I am not sure you would have used the word “thorough” to describe me!


  4. Wish I could be there to celebrate with you Robert. A well-deserved honour.


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