Survive & Thrive: Learning to Succeed in Ophthalmic Practice

In this episode of Ophthalmology off the Grid, host Gary Wörtz, MD, provides a preview of Survive & Thrive, an upcoming series within this podcast designed to fast-track the transition from residency and fellowship to successful ophthalmic practice. Learn more about this interactive offering and meet regular contributors Nandini Venkateswaran, MD; Cherie Fathy, MD, MPH; Dagny Zhu, MD; and Dave Felsted, DO.

Wörtz, MD: Open, outspoken. It's Ophthalmology off the Grid, an honest look at controversial topics in the field. I'm Gary Wörtz.

Wörtz, MD: Ophthalmology off the Grid. Here we go again. It's been awhile. This is the pod father, Dr. Gary Wörtz, and I'm really excited to be back behind the microphone talking about a new project that I'm really excited about. This new project is something that has been in the works for a while. I know we haven't been putting out content as frequently as we had in the past. Part of that is I just needed to take a little bit of a break due to some really, really busy work conditions, which are great. It's a season of life, but I want to talk about this new project called Survive and Thrive.

Speaker 1: Ophthalmology off the Grid is an independent podcast produced by Bryn Mawr Communications and supported by advertising from Johnson & Johnson Surgical Vision. For a full listing of podcasts for eye care professionals, go to eyetube.net/podcasts.

Wörtz, MD: When I was a resident, I remember thinking that there has to be an easier way to go through life. There has to be a way that is more systematized, that would allow me to sort of gain best practices sooner, that I should not have to go through all the hard ways of learning every lesson in life in terms of the practice of ophthalmology, the business of, all the time. Also, trying to be a father and a husband and a good friend and a colleague to others. I don't know that that existed at that time. I don't know that it exists now, but the goal of Survive and Thrive is really to take myself and the things that I've learned over time, and also four amazing young ophthalmologists, and we're going to have some real conversations. We're going to be talking about four main ideas.

Wörtz, MD: First, we're going to talk about Survive and Thrive through training. We're going to talk about techniques that really help you when you get out into your career. We're talking about the importance of networking. How do you get your name out there? Why is that important? Is that something that we should be doing? And if so, what's the way to do that? And then we're going to talk about the path ahead, after residency, after fellowship, once you're in your first couple of years of practice. How do you avoid some of the pitfalls, not just negotiating contracts, but also just exploring your newfound autonomy? What to do with all that cash? How to pay off your loans? We're going to talk about really the things in life that maybe there's not a real playbook for, but we're going to find that playbook, and we're going to create it together.

Wörtz, MD: The coolest thing about this is really we're going to be exploring this in a conversation, and we're going to invite you, the listeners, into this experience. How do we do that? Well, first of all, we've got four great new members of Ophthalmology off the Grid, and I'm going to let them introduce themselves, and then we'll get into how the podcast is going to be more interactive and different.

Venkateswaran, MD: Hi, everyone. My name is Nandini Venkateswaran. I'm currently a cornea external disease and refractive surgery fellow at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. I'm from New York originally and went to college and medical school at the University of Rochester in Upstate New York. And interestingly, I actually worked as an ophthalmic technician and clinical research coordinator prior to starting medical school, which fueled my passion to pursue a career in ophthalmology. I promptly sought out warmer weather for my ophthalmology training and completed my ophthalmology residency at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, Florida, and my clinical and research experiences in residency led me to pursue subspecialty training in cornea and refractive surgery, and these past 6 months of fellowship at Duke have been instrumental in helping me refine and hone my diagnostic and surgical skills.

Venkateswaran, MD: I'm so excited to share that, in a few months, I will be joining faculty at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston as a cataract, cornea, and refractive surgeon. I have been so fortunate to train at such wonderful institutions and find amazing mentors who have helped me come so far. I look forward to sharing my experiences on this awesome podcast.

Fathy, MD, MPH: Hi. My name is Cherie Fathy, and I'm a second-year resident at the Wills Eye Hospital. Prior to this, I completed my bachelor's, MD, and MPH, all at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. I picked ophthalmology because I loved having a tangible problem that I could solve both medically and surgically, and I could deliver results that patients were truly happy to have. I've also been lucky to have the best mentors around who helped me see just how welcoming and engaging the ophthalmology community is at large, people who are truly satisfied with their jobs and dedicated to providing the best possible care for their patients.

Fathy, MD, MPH: This rings especially true at Wills, where I have the opportunity to learn from the world's experts in a clinically rigorous and high-volume setting. Specifically the Wills ER has been an exceptional learning opportunity. The most atypical pathology can walk in at any minute, and as a resident, I get to be the first person to examine and triage that patient. And then if the diagnosis is still a mystery, I can work alongside our attendings to come up with a diagnosis. It's a great mix of autonomy and learning from the greats. I'm still not entirely too sure what my plans are postresidency, so I'm quite excited to also learn from this podcast about finding the best fit for me in ophthalmology.

Zhu, MD: Hi. I'm Dagny Zhu. I'm a board-certified cornea, cataract, and refractive surgeon who's just finishing up my second year of private practice. I'm a partner at NVISION Eye Centers and the practice owner and medical director of a busy refractive practice in Rowland Heights, California. I actually grew up in sunny Southern California, but I fell in love with ophthalmology on the other side of the country at Harvard Medical School, where I did cornea research at Mass Eye and Ear. I then came home to do residency, USC Doheny, where I discovered a passion for anterior segment surgery at Los Angeles County Medical Center. So I decided to pursue a cornea and refractive fellowship at Bascom Palmer in Miami, and then straight out of fellowship, instead of finding a traditional job as an associate, I actually partnered with NVISION Eye Centers to buy out a busy refractive practice, becoming their youngest partner in history.

Zhu, MD: So despite not having much exposure in residency to refractive surgery, I'm proof that it can be done as a young ophthalmologist. So I'm looking forward to sharing my experience during training and my transition to real-life practice as well as my experience being one of the few female refractive surgeons and practice owners in the country.

Felsted, DO: My name is Dave Felsted. I'm a husband, father of four, an eye surgery resident entering my last year of training. I'm a graduate of the Marriott School of Management and Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, with a bachelor's degree in accounting. I attended medical school at Midwestern University Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine. After graduating medical school, I pursued a 1-year transitional medicine intern year at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane, Washington. I then attended ophthalmology residency at Augusta University Medical College of Georgia. I plan to pursue comprehensive ophthalmology upon graduation with a special emphasis in refractive cataract surgery.

Felsted, DO: In my free time, I enjoy playing with my kids, running with my wife, and exploring the great outdoors. I happily commute 11 miles a day to work on my road bike. I have a passion for mentorship and work-life balance in today's complex medical training system. Thank you.

Wörtz, MD: So Nandini, Cherie, Dagny, and David are going to be amazing members of this new podcast. What we're going to do is we'll be releasing episodes from time to time, but once we are through with a certain segment of topics, we're actually going to have more or less a live webinar. And what's going to happen is, if you want to tune in, we're going to have a live conversation, and through the magic of Zoom and web conferencing, the goal is to really make it more interactive so that you can actually be part of the podcast. You can be part of the webinar. You can ask questions. You can dialogue with us, and we really just want to make this something where we're inviting you into the conversation, because we know that we're all better when we have conversations, when we share best practices, and when we learn from each other.

Wörtz, MD: So welcome back to Ophthalmology off the Grid. It is a thrill to be back. This has been one of these projects that has really given me so much joy over the years, and meeting folks whom this podcast has connected with has really been very meaningful to me. So this is something where I hope it is as meaningful to some of you as it has been to me, and I hope that we get to some answers and that we have a little fun along the way. So thanks and I look forward to this journey with you all.

Speaker 1: Ophthalmology off the Grid is an independent podcast produced by Bryn Mawr Communications and supported by advertising fromJohnson & Johnson Surgical Vision. For a full listing of podcasts for eye care professionals, go to eyetube.net/podcasts.