March 2021


Looking back on the past year

by Vance Thompson, MD Refractive Editor

I write for this issue of EyeWorld with emotions that acknowledge how life has changed personally and professionally over the past year. Maybe it is because we can see a light of hope at the end of the pandemic tunnel. One year ago, the world was trying to tell us that something bigger than we all realized was about to happen. When we finally realized the gravity of the pandemic, there was deep concern for those we love and how to keep everyone as safe as possible.
Our grown children came home in mid-March, and for the next few months, we shared concern, cooking/cleaning duties, played games, had deep talks, and made memories that will forever be remembered. The pandemic drove us closer. It did the same thing in practice. It was a lot of work, mostly virtual, for our practice leaders to strategize through closing our practice plus various potential scenarios. There were so many questions that we had to think about. How long would we be shut down? How do we keep our work family intact? How do we take care of our patients? How do we fund the financial losses for the short and long term in a highly elective practice? It was a time that drove my family and work teams closer. I think that is a sign of healthy family and team dynamics—growing closer through uncertain and stressful times. For someone to focus on just the negative impact of the pandemic on our world is to miss out on some of the most powerful positive relational things that we will see in our lifetime.
For us doctors, it was a unique time to be putting so much energy into the business side of work to figure out how to navigate the impact of the pandemic. To not be doing surgery or seeing the volume of patients we’re used to felt so foreign. To not be able to see our work family in person and going virtual was also unusual. I remember asking myself one late night, “Do nice guys really finish last?” I thought about how kind the leadership I work with was in caring for our team and each other. When I thought about that question, I wondered what others think of that. I remember thinking some may see it as a negative. I saw it as, “Nice guys and gals finish.” You can count on them to follow through and complete the task at hand. One thing I knew was we were not going to give up. Additionally, nice guys and gals care about their team so much that they put them first. This makes those around them want to be their best as well. In the end, this past year taught me nice guys and gals finishing is the best for optimizing families, teams, and other groups of people working together for a common cause.
I saw this same philosophy with EyeWorld and the ASCRS leadership changing out of necessity. I witnessed firsthand this amazing organization’s leadership care about survival for its members and our profession, with no national meeting to bring the lifeblood of income to the society for its financial health. I witnessed industry stepping up and helping in multiple ways in addition to financial support, and I witnessed my fellow ophthalmologists investing in and tuning into virtual offerings. We pivoted and dealt with it. We learned we were capable of that. I am fascinated with how adaptable we are when we must be. In the process, we also kept up with learning. Virtual offerings ended up being amazingly good medicine. If we could not be with our colleagues, it at least felt good to see them virtually.
The practice of ophthalmology has changed over the past year in many ways. Thank you to EyeWorld, its staff, and our doctor, administrative, and industry contributors for not missing a beat as we educate each other to keep up with change. I am so honored to be a part of this team to bring you this edition of EyeWorld.

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