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The Mentors | Sept '13

The Mentor and the Missed Opportunity

Making the transition from a resident or fellow into the world of practicing ophthalmology is an interesting process. Individuals who were your authority figures yesterday, are your peers today. There is an adjustment that needs to take place that can take some time. (I still have a hard time calling my chairman by his first name.) In this issue of MillennialEYE, I am going to look a little closer at that process and, I hope, help make the transition easier.


When I was just out of training, I was at the American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting and had just listened to a very useful lecture by Richard Lindstrom, MD, on a topic I was very keen on. Dr. Lindstrom was as important of a figure in our field then as he is now, and I held him in great esteem. At the end of the lecture, I thought maybe I would go up and say how much I enjoyed his talk. When he finished, he was immediately surrounded by a large group of people, so I gave up on that plan and exited the room to a small alcove. I sat down and started looking through my course program for where to go next. Just then, Dr. Lindstrom came into the room by himself and sat down in a chair next to me to apparently do the same thing. My mind started racing, should I say something? It was a perfect opportunity to meet and have a conversation with one of the most important men in my chosen profession, but my main thought was, I don’t want to bother him; I’m sure he is too busy to chat with me, a very junior ophthalmologist. As with all great opportunities, they only appear for a short time---in a moment, he got up and was gone. I knew right away that I had let a unique opportunity get away.


Since then, I have met Dick, and I know him to be a very engaging man who always welcomes good conversation and has a warm place in his heart for young ophthalmologists. I’m quite certain he would have welcomed the chance to chat with me back then and would have been a wealth of information. At the recent American-European Congress of Ophthalmic Surgery meeting in Deer Valley, Utah, I asked him if he would sit down and visit with me for a few minutes to share his thoughts on the importance of mentors. I suggest that you even watch this interview twice because there are so many good comments by Dick, you don’t want to miss any of them!

As for the next edition’s column, get your passports handy because we’re going globe trekking.

Mark Kontos, MD

Mark Kontos, MD, is the Senior Partner at Empire Eye Physicians in Spokane, Washington. Dr. Kontos may be reached at (509) 928-8040;mark.kontos@empireeye.com/