Expressing Gratitude

Host Gary Wörtz, MD, takes some time this Thanksgiving to talk about the people who have helped him become the ophthalmologist he is today and invites others to share stories of what they're thankful for.

Gary Wörtz, MD: Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect on the people who have impacted us the most throughout our lives. It's a time to give thanks to those who have taught us, encouraged us, and believed in us from day one.

In the spirit of the holiday, I'm going to take a few minutes today to talk about what I personally am thankful for. I hope you will listen as I talk about a few people who have helped me become the ophthalmologist I am today, coming up on Off the Grid.

Speaker 2: Ophthalmology off the Grid is an independent podcast produced by Bryn Mawr Communications and supported by advertising from Alcon. For a full listing of podcasts for eye care professionals, got to eyetube.net/podcasts.

Gary: Well, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there. This is a very special episode of Off the Grid, and I just have to say that Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite holidays because it gives us an opportunity to pause and deliberately look back over our life and thank the people who have made us into who we are. One of my favorite quotes is by Winston Churchill who said, "We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give." And I've been so blessed by so many people in this profession who have poured into me, who have taken me under their wing, and who have inspired me to try to become the best ophthalmologist I can be.

So, I want to just start by thanking a few people by name. First I just want to start by thanking my program director, Dr. Andy Pearson. Being an ophthalmology resident, they took a chance on me, and from Doug Katz, and Seema Capoor, and Pete Blackburn, and Sheila Sanders, and even Art Rivard who sat down with me during my very first cataract surgery. So many people in my program poured into me and made me into a serviceable ophthalmologist and gave me my start. So, I'm just so thankful for my program.

Beyond that, I'd really like to thank my current partner, Lance Ferguson. Many people may or may not know who Lance is, but he is absolutely one of the most fantastic surgeons that I've ever had the privilege to see operate, and to have the opportunity to call him a partner in ophthalmology is a sincere privilege.

It's actually kind of funny. When I was an ophthalmology resident, from time to time, I would sneak out and come across town to watch Lance operate. He always had sort of an open-door policy for residents to come over and see how things worked in the real world, and for me it was such a tremendous opportunity to see the potential of what refractive cataract surgery could be like in that present moment but also seeing a vision for the future.

We had conversations back in the day, even when I was a resident, about maybe someday we'd have an opportunity to work together, and so most of my career track I really was working with some of those thoughts in mind that maybe I'd have an opportunity one day to work with Lance. He opened the door graciously a few years ago for me to come and be the second surgeon in a practice that was well established for 30 years. I think sometimes younger surgeons don't really understand how much trust it takes to allow another surgeon to come into your practice. That is a really, really special thing, and he has been such a tremendous partner. He's been willing to sit down next to me and teach me LASIK. He has been willing to go through charts with me. He's been a willing ear to listen in times when surgery doesn't go quite right.

It's so nice to have someone that I know that I can talk to about difficult cases, and I know he's going to be a listening ear. He'll give me feedback, he'll give me positive feedback, he'll give me some opportunities to improve, and all of those things are so important in a mentor, that they're not just trying to just give you positive feedback all the time and tell you what you're doing right. You can't get better unless someone challenges you to become the best version of yourself and my partner has definitely done that.

So on this Thanksgiving, I want to make a point to thank my partner, Lance Ferguson. I would not be the ophthalmologist or the man I am today without having you give me the chance to work beside you. I'd also have to say, I think, I have to thank my wife. I would be remiss if I did not do that. We've been married for over 19 years, and she has just been such an amazing partner. Also someone who challenges me to always take things to the next level, to give my best, to never settle. So, I would be remiss if I didn't thank my wife.

I also want to thank friends in this field. I'm just so lucky to have so many friends in this field, and I watch them and I see how they carry themselves, how they operate, both in terms of surgical and how they operate as human beings. People like George Waring IV, and Bill Trattler, and Daniel Chang, and Bill Wiley, Preeya Gupta, Liz Yeu, Jess Ciralsky, Nicole Fram, Neda Shamie. The list goes on and on. There's so many people that I am close to and don't even have an opportunity in this short podcast to thank.

If we've hung out in the past couple of years and we've had good conversations, just know that today I'm thinking of you and I appreciate all the ways that people in this field have been willing to open themselves up to me, someone who was a relative outsider to ophthalmology before med school and residency. I feel like I have a family and that really makes this profession so much fun.

So, today as we are just sort of pausing to give thanks, I would encourage all of us to make a phone call, pick up the phone, make that effort, say thank you, and let's make this the best Thanksgiving ever by just pausing and saying thank you to those who have impacted us. So, happy Thanksgiving.

Gary: Today, I invite you to think about who has invested in you. Who has been your biggest champion? Who are you thankful for? Share your stories in a tweet using #OOTGTHANKSGIVING, and challenge a few friends to do the same by tagging them in your post. I'll start. I'm tagging Blake Williamson, Bill Trattler, Preeya Gupta, and Mitch Jackson to join me in this.

Also, be sure to save the date for next year's MillennialEYE Live, which will be in my home state of Kentucky in Louisville on September 6-8, 2019. With that, this has been a very special mini episode of Ophthalmology off the Grid. Happy Thanksgiving to all. Until next time.

Speaker 2: Ophthalmology off the Grid is an independent podcast produced by Bryn Mawr Communications and supported by advertising from Alcon. For a full listing of podcasts for eye care professionals, got to eyetube.net/podcasts.