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Outstanding Female Leader in Ophthalmology | Nov/Dec '15

Female Leader: P. Dee G. Stephenson, MD, FACS

P. Dee G. Stephenson, MD, FACS

P. Dee G. Stephenson, MD, FACS

Dr. Stephenson is the President of the American College of Eye Surgeons (ACES). She practices at Stephenson Eye Associates in Venice, Florida, and is an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of South Florida College of Medicine in Tampa.

Please share with us your background.

I was born and raised in Florida. I attended medical school at the University of South Florida. I then completed an internship in internal medicine at St. Francis Medical Center in Connecticut, followed by my residency in ophthalmology at the University of South Carolina.

Currently, I am the Founder and Director of Stephenson Eye Associates in Venice, Florida; an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of South Florida in Tampa; and President of the American College of Eye Surgeons (ACES). I reside in Venice, where I enjoy cooking, traveling, and collecting art.

What is the focus of your current research?

I am currently participating in a retrospective study of 2-year data on the Trulign toric IOL (Bausch + Lomb). I am also conducting a comparative analysis of the Cassini Total Corneal Astigmatism (i-Optics) and the ORA System (Alcon).

What has your experience been collaborating with industry?

My experience collaborating with industry has been excellent—it’s all about the relationships and the trust you put in each other. Ophthalmology is a very small world when you think about it, and many industry reps have worked for multiple companies, so burning bridges is not a good idea. If you truly believe in a product or technology, then its manufacturer is the company you should align yourself with.

In your opinion, how is the role of women in ophthalmology evolving?

I believe that ophthalmology is a great field for anyone, especially women. In our specialty, it is possible to achieve a good balance of work and personal life. More and more women are choosing ophthalmology, and I feel like women are taking on bigger roles as chairs of departments and residency programs, which is exciting.

What, if any, hurdles do you feel women in health care still face?

I still feel that women’s pay is lower than our male counterparts. However, the face of ophthalmology is changing. We are seeing the creation of more women’s professional groups, such as Women in Ophthalmology (WIO) and the American Society of Progressive Enterprising Surgeons (ASPENS), as well as more women assuming leadership roles in their programs and in ophthalmic societies. I believe that we are a force to be reckoned with. We can lead, teach great surgery, conduct research, and take care of our children!

What advice can you offer to young female phthalmologists who are still in training or just beginning their careers?

Love where you live and love your job. Hire people with the same goals and great ideas and who love to help patients.

Can you propose a unique or creative idea that may help women in ophthalmic practices?

We have started a small, exclusive women’s group called ASPENS, which is composed of numerous unique and successful female ophthalmologists. Our purpose is to help young female ophthalmologists get started in their careers, and we collectively have a vast amount of knowledge to share on a wide range of topics, from building and designing an office to OR suites to dry eye clinics to premium practices. It is a combination of all our experiences, good and bad, that can help these young doctors grow and succeed.