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National Doctors' Day 2020

National Doctors' Day

"I would like to extend a sincere thank you to all of our physicians on National Doctors' Day. Your dedication to serving our patients through clinical care or research is commendable. The collective efforts during this COVID-19 pandemic have allowed us to rapidly adapt to serve a select group of patients, but also protect our at-risk patients, our staff, and ourselves."

- Keith D. Carter, MD, FACS

  • Lillian C. O'Brien and Dr. C.S. O'Brien Chair in Ophthalmology
  • Chairman and Head, Department of Ophthalmology

On National Doctors' Day, we asked our doctors, "Why do you do what you do?"...

"I would answer this question in three parts. First is problem-solving. I have always enjoyed the challenge of being faced with an obstacle to overcome. Patients with eye disease present with a variety of medical and surgical conditions that require thought, innovation, and decisive action in order to end with a good outcome. Second, though it may sound cliché, is helping people. This happens in clinic, but is much more dramatic in the operating room. I am fortunate to perform a procedure, cataract surgery, that has a high success rate and an immediate and profound impact on a patient’s quality of life. Third, is teaching.  It is extremely rewarding to take a young resident, wide-eyed and innocent, and turn them into a competent clinician and surgeon."

- A. Tim Johnson, MD, PhD

"When picking my career, it came down to either teacher or doctor, because I wanted to make a tangible difference for good in individual people’s lives. In the end I got to be both a doctor and a teacher. How lucky is that!"

- Richard Olson, MD

"It makes me so proud and so humbled to help, share knowledge, and learn every day, from both patients and colleagues.  I truly feel fortunate."

Khadija Shahid, OD, MPH, FAAO

"Life is beautiful, and seeing life—in our friends, our family, in nature, in art—is the joy of living. This is why, even in these trying times, we risk our lives to help people see."

Ian Han, MD

"Neuro-ophthalmology is a unique subspecialty because patients are referred with problems for which the cause is not obvious, which creates uncertainty, leading to anxiety on behalf of the patient and their referring doctor. These problems may originate in the eye, the connections to the brain or in the locations in the brain involved in processing and coordination of vision and eye and pupil movements. Often numerous tests and imaging studies have been done previously yielding no certain diagnosis, which exacerbates the uncertainty even more. The amount of time and expertise required to sort out the problem is often beyond the scope of most ophthalmologists and neurologists, so the neuro-ophthalmologist is usually the "last stop" for the patient. Patient expectations for diagnosis and treatment are often as high as their anxiety. I chose neuro-ophthalmology because I gain much satisfaction by solving unusual problems, removing uncertainty and preventing or reversing causes of vision loss, which in some cases can also be life-threatening. These problems are often serious and require expertise for ascertaining and associating of critical pieces of information to arrive at a diagnosis. They may involve tumors impacting the visual system, inflammatory disorders, infections, vascular disorders, including stroke, genetic disorders, degenerations, trauma, and inborn problems. We see patients spanning all age ranges and coordinate care with many other subspecialties, including neurosurgery, neurology, other ophthalmology subspecialists, optometrists, neuro-radiologists, oncologists, cardiologists, internists, and family care physicians.

In order to solve these problems, one must be able to listen carefully and connect with patients, elicit the salient parts of their history, understand the context of their symptoms and exam findings and have a solid understanding of the mechanisms and patterns of various disorders of the visual system and brain coupled with good clinical instincts and common sense. Neuro-ophthalmology is all about assessing and relating pieces of information together to discover the cause of the symptoms and exam findings and then help counsel the patient on their treatment options. This process takes patience, tenacity, experience, and a sound background of depth and breadth in interpreting neuro-anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and pathology. It also takes compassion - and time. Most neuro-ophthalmologic problems take much longer to evaluate and solve than a normal exam visit. It is very rewarding to be able to bring clarity to a problem and its solution, when previous attempts have failed, and to provide a lasting relief and comfort to patients.  

I have been doing this for over 30 years and each day brings patients with unusual problems that can be fascinating in their own way and which bring new opportunities for learning. The search for answers to these problems also creates fertile ground for research ideas. Exploring them is also very rewarding, as it furthers our knowledge and helps even more patients through the process of scientific discovery. I have never regretted my choice in specializing in neuro-ophthalmology because it brings science, the art of medicine, problem-solving, compassion and resolution of problems all together to positively impact lives."

Randy Kardon, MD, PhD

"To help my patients maintain their independence and to teach the next generation of ophthalmic surgeons."

Jaclyn Haugsdal, MD

"I provide vision rehabilitation care to individuals who have experienced a loss of vision, or who have an eye condition that may cause vision loss in the future.   The goal of vision rehabilitation is to maximize visual function, which will enhance potential, increase independence and improve quality of life. Because vision rehabilitation care is provided to individuals of all ages as an integral part of the continuum of eye care services, I am able to provide assistance to individuals with vision loss throughout their lives as their visual needs change.   My hope is that we will be able to cure blinding eye diseases in the coming years. Until that time, I will continue providing vision rehabilitation care to help individuals with vision loss function at their highest potential."

- Mark Wilkinson, OD,  FAAO

"I love to help people in need, I love science, and I love to teach about healthcare. That's why I do what I do."

Mark Greiner, MD

"Because saving someone's sight is like saving an entire world."

Michael Abramoff, MD, PhD

"There are few joys greater than helping someone see, and being a part of making that happen for someone keeps me doing what I do."

- Vera Howe, OD, FAAO

"I like taking care of patients and working with the other members of the healthcare team."

- Elaine Binkley, MD

"Vision is invaluable, and I love that I get to work with patients every day to protect and restore vision. Furthermore, my field allows me to get to know patients over a lifetime. I get to be there through everything. I am so fortunate to have a job that I love to do."

- Erin Boese, MD

"I went into medicine because I like solving problems that make people feel better."

- Nasreen Syed, MD

"Playing any role in restoring or improving patients' vision is extremely rewarding. The University of Iowa provides top-tier technology, which allows us to stay on the front lines of sight-enhancing opportunities. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I feel like I have the best job in the world!"

- Marcus Noyes, OD, FAAO, FSLS

"I chose Neuro-ophthalmology because I enjoy the unique challenges the specialty offers. The brain is, in fact, an extension of the eye and neuro-ophthalmology is the study of the eye as it relates to the brain. I enjoy piecing the puzzle; the disease is often not visible or very apparent and the diagnosis often requires investigative or detective work.  

I love the academic environment. I love learning and in turn, I love to teach and share my experience and knowledge. I take great pride in watching students and residents graduate with enthusiasm and new knowledge.

And finally, while the patients are understandably anxious about their visual loss or double vision when they enter the office, I hope they leave with their questions answered and a treatment plan. They are so grateful when we sit down, talk about the problem and create a management strategy.

So, after all of these years of practice, I'm lucky. I still love what I do and willing to drive 4 hours from home to do it!"

- Sophia Chung, MD

"As I approach the end of my career, I have found myself reflecting on what my life would have been like had I chosen a different path. I cannot imagine a profession that could have been as fulfilling. I love interacting with patients and their families, solving challenging problems, helping to train the next generation, and trying to advance our understanding of eye disease. Every other job looks hopelessly boring to me."

- Lee Alward, MD

"Why am I a doctor, and specifically a pediatric ophthalmologist? Because as a child I wanted to help people, and I wanted to do that as a pediatric ophthalmologist.  I was strangely specific as a child. And I was right; each of us has a set of skills and a calling to do something, and this is mine.  I am so lucky to know all the patients and families I have cared for over the years, and all of the colleagues I have worked alongside."

- Arlene Drack, MD

"Doctors Day this year takes on a special significance. I think of those on the front lines of this pandemic (like my wife) who without regard to their own health are first caring for those scared vulnerable people who need them most. I am so proud to work with the many people here at UIHC and at the VA who are working so hard during this very stressful time.   Soon this will be behind us and I will be so happy for the simple joy of caring for our patients again. I will always remember the courage, the compassion, and the integrity of our medical profession during this crisis."

- Thomas Oetting, MS, MD

Thursday, April 2, 2020