Denise M. Visco
The Power List 2021 – Power List
President and Medical Director, Eyes of York, Vice President, Cedars/Aspens, Immediate Past President, American College of Eye Surgeons, York, Pennsylvania, USA
Why is it important to celebrate women in ophthalmology?
Gender has had an inappropriate impact on promotion, recognition, and compensation in many professions. By highlighting the contributions of women in the field of ophthalmology we are bringing awareness to the underrepresentation of women physicians in the field of medicine, and embracing the opportunity for change in the future.
When we reflect on the progress women have made, we celebrate their acts of courage and determination and create a new paradigm where women have identified role models and mentors in historically male roles. Essentially, we are committing to a vision of hope where every individual can pursue and achieve their dreams without being held down by discrimination or bias.
What can be done to make the field more diverse?
Positive change for women can be achieved with collaborations based on a foundation of shared purpose, trust, and appreciation. When we look to battle workplace bias and create a more equitable environment, women must develop deliberate strategies and help others behind them. These tasks can be facilitated by learning the lateral leadership skills of networking, constructive persuasion, consultation, and coalition building. When we cultivate a broad spectrum of relationships based on mutual respect; when we negotiate for ourselves with a win-win strategy; when we give time and show genuine interest in the opinions of our stakeholders; when we earn advocates, who support and stand by us, the change will become eminent.
What is your proudest professional achievement?
I am most proud of my current practice that I opened straight out of residency, which has grown and continues to serve our community. I wanted to provide medical and surgical eye care in a high-tech, high-touch environment, with surgical services on site. The opportunities for me to join such a practice and develop into an equal partner were few and far between when I completed my residency in 1995, so I created one myself. We began with one doctor (me) and one employee who still works for me. We now have five providers, a staff of roughly 40 employees, an ophthalmic ASC, and a LVC suite. I encountered many obstacles and nay-sayers. But to quote Susan Day, “Knowing what you want is the most important factor, with a close second being a refusal to abandon dreams (1).”
Outside of work, what makes you happy?
The current pandemic has tampered some of my play activities over the past year, such as traveling and driving race cars. I am grateful that my husband of 34 years, our three adult sons and daughter-in-law are all well and healthy. Staying up to date with all of them occupies a good bit of my time outside of work lately and being close with them makes me very happy.
I am an orchid collector of the cattleya species and have an automated greenhouse which keeps me busy and content at home. I have tried to continue my yoga classes through the quarantine without much success. My wine collection is still in pretty good shape thanks to home delivery, but I miss the in-person trips and tastings my husband and I so enjoyed. I am looking forward to getting back to traveling and lastly, in-person educational meetings where I miss spending quality time with my role models and mentors.
1. ASCRS EyeWorld (2011).