Passing knowledge and good practices to new generations of ophthalmologists is vital – it gives teachers a real sense of achievement and, crucially, improves patient care
Carol Shields | | Opinion
When I first came to Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, it was a real eye-opener. My mentors and educators were outstanding; I listened to everyone who taught us and I attended all the lectures. Sometimes, trainees question what they’re told to make sure they’re using the right methods and tools, but that didn’t happen to me. I trusted everyone at Wills Eye and knew I was getting the truth from the very start. It was the best learning experience I could have had.
These days, most technicians in my office will tell you that it is a challenge to work with me. I think fast and I work fast. Some say working with me is like a boot camp: we arrive early, we do a good job, we keep our patients happy, and we get great results. I will not stand for an image or an ultrasound done incorrectly. When I strive for the highest standards, it rubs off on everybody else – including my fellows.
I often think of the fellows who have worked alongside me. They have come from all over the world. Each one has been very different – and I think they have all been excellent. Some have become superstars, others have smaller solo practices, but they all seem happy with what they’re doing. They survived the boot camp and they now thank me for “pushing them to be their best.” One of my favorite fellows, R. Joel Welch, gave me a laminated poem by Will Allen Dromgoole, “The Bridge Builder” and adjusted the protagonist from man to woman – and I treasure the sentiment behind it. I’m happy that my younger colleagues see me as building bridges for them. I keep every token of appreciation I get from the fellows with whom I’ve worked.
I am so proud of what we do for our patients. When they come to see me and my team, it is, perhaps, one of the most important days in their lives. We cannot give them any less than our absolute best – so that is what we do. I learned that from my mentors and I’m proud to pass it on to the next generations of ophthalmologists.
The Bridge Builder
Will Allen Dromgoole
An old woman going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
Through which was flowing a sullen tide
The old woman crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear within;
But she turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old woman,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?”
The builder lifted her old gray head;
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” she said,
“There followed after me to-day
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”
From: A Builder, 1900.