Lisa M. Nijm
The Power List 2019 – Champions of Change
Lisa M. Nijm
Founder & Medical Director, Warrenville EyeCare & LASIK, Corneal, Cataract and Refractive Surgeon, Warrenville, USA. Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, University of Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Chicago, USA.
What is the best part of being an ophthalmologist?
Without a doubt, the best part of being an ophthalmologist is being able to help patients improve their vision. Words cannot fully describe the joy in seeing a patient who is able to drive again after cataract extraction, the unique satisfaction in performing a precise, intricate corneal transplant, or the palpable jubilation of a glasses free patient after refractive surgery. I feel blessed to be in a profession that my daily work has such a gratifying, often seemingly instantaneous impact on a patient’s vision, quality of life and ability to maintain independence.
What has been the pivotal moment of your career?
The pivotal moment of my career was opening my own practice. It gave me the autonomy and independence to take care of my patients to the best of my ability and in the best way I see fit. Further, being an MD/JD, it allowed me the freedom to pursue my passions for teaching, mentoring and advocacy. I am enthusiastic about teaching clinical pearls to improve patient care, helping young ophthalmologists learn how to successfully transition from training to practice, strengthening the role of women ophthalmologists in leadership and advocating in legislative arenas for the betterment of patients and the profession.
Who are your ophthalmic heroes?
My ophthalmic heroes are those who taught me, believed in me and inspired me. They saw something in me well before I saw it in myself. I am privileged to call Randy Peterson, Mort Smith, Elmer Tu, Tamara Fountain, Joel Sugar, Mark Mannis and Ivan Schwab my ophthalmic heroes.
Any advice for those following in your footsteps?
Put the patient first; everything else will follow. Your practice will grow, your reputation will grow, and you will be successful. Be a pioneer; don't be afraid to forge in a new direction. Effecting change, however, is not easy. Identify mentors who will support you and help guide you along what is likely to be a bumpy road. Always be a first rate version of yourself, no matter what stage of your career you are in; "Excellence is the gradual result of always trying to do better." Moreover, to be a champion for change, you must not only do this for yourself, but inspire others to do it as well.