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Faculty Focus: Scott Larson, MD

Scott LarsonWhat is your hometown?

I grew up in Carmel, Indiana but my extended family now lives in Southern California.  Home is where your family settles… 

How/when did you become interested in science and/or medicine?

I have always been interested in medicine.  I think it is just how I was wired.  I spent a year studying economics in college just to prove to myself that I needed a career in medicine.  

When did you join the University of Iowa faculty?

April 2012

How or why did you choose to join the faculty at the University of Iowa?

I was invited by Dr. Keith Carter to interview for a faculty position in 2011.  I was a resident and fellow at Iowa almost a decade earlier.  Because of that tremendous experience, I knew working in the department of Ophthalmology would be a wonderful opportunity.  I’m proud have been one selected to carry on the tradition of excellence in ophthalmology. 

Is there a teacher or mentor who helped shape your career?

I have had wonderful mentors that I get to work with every day including Dr. Keith Carter, Tom Oetting, Rick Olson and Culver Boldt to name a few.  I was originally influenced to do pediatric ophthalmology by the incredible examples of Dr. Bill Scott and the late Dr. Ron Keech.  There are so many great people in Iowa and a wonderful team to work with.  I came back to Iowa for the people. 

How do you see your faculty role impacting medicine and/or science?

I love helping patients live better lives by seeing better and treating eye disease but I feel my biggest impact will be what I give to the next generation in the form of well trained ophthalmologists and uncovering new truths in the treatment of eye disease. 

What is the biggest change you've experienced in your field since you were a student?

Most of medicine and I’m no exception, has been dramatically changed by the electronic medical record and the mass of information available at our fingertips.  The increase in duplicative documentation and error checking that is required to have useful data in an electronic medical record can easily erode one's focus away from the patient and the critical thought needed to have a productive patient encounter.  At the same time the sheer amount of data available makes identifying the most important data more difficult.  I believe no matter what data driven electronic tools are available to guide medical decision-making there will always be the need for a physician’s healing, caring touch to bring about effective care for our patients. 

What one piece of advice would you give to today's students?

Study hard and build a system early so you can keep tabs on all the data you collect.  It doesn’t matter what platform you chose, just find something that works and keep it up.  You will collect a massive amount of information and only be able to touch it once if you are lucky. Spend a extra moment to catalogue it so you won’t lose it.  Then when you have collected all that knowledge, you can work to turn it into wisdom.  The medical student of today needs to be able to efficiently and compassionately approach the patient in the digital age. It is a daunting task.

In what ways are you engaged in professional activities outside the University

(i.e. population based research, mentoring high school students, sharing your leadership/ expertise with organizations or causes, speaking engagement off campus, etc.)?

I serve on the board of directors for our sub-specialty society, the Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) and I serve as a content creator for the American Board of Ophthalmology.   Thanks to the support of our department, our school and the University of Iowa, I have been involved with many opportunities to speak and teach across the country and world.  In my few years back in Iowa, I have many international opportunities to share research or speak on ophthalmology topics.  I have recently visited Canada, Mexico, Italy, Singapore, India and China and I have additional trips planned for Spain, China and Australia this year.  We have a tremendous opportunity being part of this institution to be world leaders in our fields.  

What are some of your outside (personal) interests?

My most enjoyable time is spent with my wife and three sons.  We love movies, cycling, golf, watching Hawkeye sports, and eating good food.