Here I sit after my first round of second year exams at the CAO…that is right first round. At every level of education at the Canadian Academy of Osteopathy there are three rounds of exams – at the end of the academic semester there is a written and oral practical examination, in the middle of the practical semester there is another oral practical examination, and before entering the next academic year there is another written and oral practical examination that act as qualifying exams. Wait, I forgot to mention the tests that are written on the first day of every module as well as the somewhat informal “grilling” that happens during every lab session as well as our special “grilling” sessions. That is a lot of testing! The good thing is that, as a student, there is no room to get lazy, no room to slack off. As an educational institution that means that the CAO is able to be much more attentive to the needs of students as they pass through their education by providing help and guidance in weak areas as necessary.
Now that I have extolled the benefits of the testing procedures I will say a few things that may only apply to me. The CAO is VERY challenging, not just educationally. The CAO tests the ability of a person to obtain a post-graduate level education while somehow balancing the multitude of other life requirements that occur outside of the CAO. We all have varying levels of responsibilities and, regardless of what they are, they must be dealt with while engaging in an education that requires excellence. I have absolutely no idea what happened between the end of August and the end of September. I was present and performed all of the tasks that I needed to, I just do not know how I did them! I was tired the whole time and ended up taking way more naps than I should have…it must have been a survival mechanism. Between bouts of studying, working with clients, working a part time job, working with a group of singers to run their soundboard, and taking care of my baby daughter I somehow managed to make it through the month and perform acceptably on my exams. I am quite sure that all of the students at the CAO have very similar stories of challenge to share (some likely far more challenging than my own).
I have no intention of focusing on my personal story here. What I want to make known is that the challenge the CAO presents all of its students is one of the most rewarding things I have ever gone through. Every moment of the process is important. Every moment of the process provides a new opportunity to learn about yourself. Every moment of the process provides a new opportunity to learn about the world. Every moment of the process provides insight in to your own personal strengths, weaknesses, and struggles. Every moment of the process provides learning and growth (whether you want it or not).
The CAO is essentially my life. Osteopathy is, without question, a way of life for Operators. There is not a moment that goes by that I do not think either of Osteopathy or with Osteopathic principles about everything. I am unable to walk through nature without wondering why a tree grows the way it does…I see a tree that grows on the slope of a hill and I notice that most of them have the majority of their branches facing the peak of the hill to put more weight on the uphill side. My whole life makes more concrete sense through Osteopathic principles. The CAO and Osteopathy are my most significant other – we are in a very intimate relationship (no matter how strange that may sound). It looks as though I may have digressed in to speaking about myself…only so that I may make the point that seems common to all CAO students – it is impossible to leave the CAO as the same person you entered. Not to say you are completely unrecognizable, more to say that you grow in many unique ways through the process.
It is the process that counts after all…the process will pick you up, drop you, make you stronger, stress you out, and, eventually, spit you out better on the other end. The process is what makes it all worthwhile.