All Good Things Come to an End

Tomorrow Shepherd Eye loses one of its veteran technicians.  Certified ophthalmic technician, Efrem Caballero, retires after 25 years of dedicated service to the Shepherd Eye Center.    Dr. Shepherd hired Efrem himself in April of 1988.  I sat down with Efrem to learn more about him, his past, and his plans after Shepherd Eye Center.

What did you do before this?

“In Columbia, I practiced medicine.  As a matter of fact, I was an ophthalmologist!  It’s very hard; not impossible, but it was very hard to transfer your licensure [from Columbia to the U.S.].  You can only aspire to become a family practice physician, but you have to pass the boards, you have to do the internship again, you have to do two more years in a family practice.  If I wanted to be an ophthalmologist in the United States, I would have had to apply for a residency and that here is very difficult and very stressful.  When I moved here, I had a wife and two, young children.  So the only option was to…(he pauses)…It’s a good thing I found Dr. Shepherd!”

When did you move to the United States?

“I was 39 years old when I moved here.  My son is now 35 and my daughter is 33.”

How did you adjust from being an ophthalmologist to a technician?

“It’s been very difficult for me to become a good technician. I don’t think I ever became one.  I had too many barriers as far as the outside, the way I was trained.  It was difficult for me.  There are technicians here today who are superior than I am.  Very good.  Excellent technicians here.  It was very difficult for me psychologically, and I try but sometimes I’m very slow. ”

How have things changed in the practice over the years?

“It’s like everything else, when it grows, when the practice grows, employees become just employees.  There was a kind of family structure here in the beginning.  Dr Shepherd had a solo practice then.   Technology changes.  We started on computers that only had keyboards; no mouse.  Then we switched to a new system, and then a new system, and now we have this system.

They are hiring younger and younger technicians.  Some of them are very bright.  They’re studying.  This is temporary for them.  They’re going to school.  Some of them are very, very good.  And that’s how it is.  It is time for me to step down and go into something else.  Something with a different rhythm, living in a small town in my home country.”

What did you love most about your job at Shepherd?

“Stability.  It has been a pleasure to work with the group.  Definitely I have learned alot. I think I’ll miss them ya know?”

When you return to Columbia will you retire or return to ophthalmology?

“My familly is over there already.  We already bought a condo.  Very, very simple.  You know I want a simple life. I’m tired.  But let me tell you…I am grateful.  I am grateful to Dr. Shepherd.  That he opened the doors to this country, and that I came and we had a very good life.  My kids went to school here.  My daughter will stay because she got married to an American and she’s very much from “here” and that’s okay.  But my son, he’s going with us.

I don’t want to say that I’m leaving because I’m tired of this country. It’s just time for me to retire, maybe semi-retire.  I feel like I just can’t keep up with the busy pace and all the changes.   I’ve been thinking about this for the last few years.  I wasn’t ready to do it, but now I’m making the big step.

I do plan to practice once I move back, probably at a different level without being so busy.  I’ve been studying alternative medicine. ”

Efrem has been studying an alternative medicine called orthomolecular medicine pioneered by Dr. Abram Hoffer.  He hopes to pursue orthomolecular medicine next.   The Shepherd Eye Center wishes Efrem and his family the very best in all future endeavors and would like to assure Efrem that he will always be part of the Shepherd family.