Alumni Stories

Stephen McLeod,
MD

  • Chief Executive Officer, American Academy of Ophthalmology
  • Resident Class of 1993
  • Assistant Professor from 1995-1998

WHO WAS YOUR MENTOR AT THE IEEI WHILE YOU WERE IN TRAINING?

Amongst so many, my most influential mentors were Joel Sugar and Marilyn Miller, Joel because of my career pathway in cornea and Marilyn because of my engagement in global blindness. Joel was just a fantastic teacher—with the highest standards. And while a tough resident educator, as a senior partner he was absolutely the most supportive and considerate individual one could hope for. One event I remember with amusement: as a resident I had the misfortune of working up in his clinic one of the worst patient historians I’d encountered—a dreadfully complicated history, but the patient insisted in starting in the middle of the story of each component and between the two of us we were getting more and more tangled. Before I had a chance to unravel the story, Joel came in and wanted to get the history. So I started stumbling through this morass of a tale as Joel looked increasingly perplexed. At the end there was silence. He was deep in thought, going through his prodigious memory banks. And then finally he spoke. “Yes. That’s absolutely the worst history I’ve ever heard”. With some misplaced pride, all I could think was, “yep, he actually thought about it, and that one was a memorable, definitive WORST! My place in history is secure…”. And he still gave me a job!

WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT TITLE/JOB? WHERE ARE YOU WORKING NOW AND FOR HOW LONG?

I’m the Theresa M. and Wayne M. Caygill, MD Distinguished Professor and Chair in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of California San Francisco. I’m also the Editor-in-Chief of Ophthalmology. In February 2022 I will be stepping down as Chair to assume the role of Chief Executive Officer for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS OF WISDOM FOR OUR FUTURE TRAINEES?

Make the most of your relationships with colleagues as you grow in the field. It’s a wonderful profession with smart, dedicated people who enjoy what they do, and the vibrant community with our shared ideals adds so much to the joy of our profession.

Lisa Nijm, MD, JD

  • Founder & Medical Director, Warrenville EyeCare and LASIK
  • Assistant Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology
    Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • CEO, Women in Ophthalmology
  • Founder, MDNegotiation.com
  • Creator & Program Director, RealWorldOphthalmology.com
  • Resident Class of 2008
  • Assistant Clinical Professor from 2012-present

WHO WAS YOUR MENTOR AT THE IEEI WHILE YOU WERE IN TRAINING?

Mentors make a world of difference, and we are fortunate to have so many great role models at IEEI. Drs. Dimitri Azar, Joel Sugar, Ali Djalilian, Sandeep Jain– all of the Cornea faculty were inspiring mentors to me during residency, but Dr. Elmer Tu was my primary mentor. I’m privileged to have worked with him from the start of my ophthalmic career. I first met Dr. Tu when I rotated on the cornea service as a medical student and he is the one who personally called to deliver the happy news that I had matched at UIC. He taught me the fundamentals of cataract surgery and I conducted my primary research project – Utilizing a Hydrophilic IOL as a Drug Delivery System — under his direction. Together with Dr. Larry Ulanski and Dr. Mansi Parikh, we performed over 200 cataract surgeries on rabbits before I performed one on a patient! I continued drug delivery work in fellowship, and this formed the basis for the clinical trial work I conduct in my practice today.

WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT TITLE/JOB? WHERE ARE YOU WORKING NOW AND FOR HOW LONG?

I opened Warrenville EyeCare and LASIK in 2012, a solo, boutique cornea, cataract and refractive practice in the western Chicago suburbs. I am also an Assistant Clinical Professor at the IEEI. I’m passionate about teaching and have been fortunate to be involved in numerous projects for the betterment of patient care and the profession of ophthalmology. Last fall, I created MDNegotiation.com to utilize my expertise as an MD/JD to help ophthalmologists improve their negotiation skills. I had been teaching contract negotiation workshops for the last several years at residency programs throughout the country and this was an opportunity to reach a broader audience. In doing so, I encountered many young ophthalmologists asking questions not only about negotiation, but also about entering practice. These questions led to the project I’m most proud of to date – the creation of Real World Ophthalmology (RWO). RWO is an educational resource that brings seasoned ophthalmologists together with young ophthalmologists to help increase their success in transitioning from training to practice. Experienced ophthalmologists share acquired knowledge to help young surgeons enhance their clinical skills, business acumen, and personal growth. With the help of UIC, our inaugural meeting, Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew Sooner, was a huge success. The next RWO meeting, Tell Me Your Secrets, is April 2, 2022 and we plan to expand educational content between meetings with a RWO podcast.

Dr. Nijm is also the first CEO of Women in Ophthalmology, leading growth of over 400% in membership, member benefits, sponsorship, and meeting attendance since her involvement. She is on the board of Directors of the American Academy of Ophthalmology Executives (AAOE), several ophthalmology editorial boards and is the Chief Medical Editor of OSDCME.

DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS OF WISDOM FOR OUR FUTURE TRAINEES?

Strive to be the best version of yourself. Learn as much as possible during training, and get exposure to a wide variety of surgeries, techniques, and approaches. Clinically, be sure to keep your differential diagnoses broad, you will be less likely to miss that rare diagnosis. Nurture your mind, body, and soul – healthy doctors take better care of their patients. Above all, keep your kindness and compassion. Listen to what is really bothering your patients. Thank your staff. Be the kind of doctor you would want taking care of your parent, child, or yourself. Learning doesn’t stop when you finish training.

Photo of Dr. Hoang

Quan V. (Donny) Hoang,
MD, PhD

Dr. Hoang is an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Duke-NUS (National University of Singapore) and a Senior Consultant in Surgical Retina at the Singapore National Eye Centre where he established a High Myopia Clinic. In addition, Dr. Hoang runs a lab in Ocular Imaging at the Singapore Eye Research Institute. He also holds an adjunct appointment at Columbia University.

Dr. Hoang spent a total of 17 years in Chicago, beginning with his undergraduate studies at Northwestern University, where he received a triple major with honors in Chemistry, Biology and Integrated Science. He then received his joint Medical Degree (MD) and PhD in Neuroscience and Biophysics from the University of Illinois at Chicago where he was awarded the 2006 Top Thesis Award in the Life Sciences. He undertook Ophthalmology training at the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary in Chicago under Drs. William Mieler and Dmitri Azar where he won the Top Research Awards in 2009 and 2010.

Dr. Hoang subsequently completed a 2-year vitreo-retinal fellowship at the Columbia University Medical Centre and the Vitreous, Retina, Macula Consultants of New York (VRMNY) in 2012. Working under the supervision of world-renowned specialists Profs. Stanley Chang, Lawrence Yannuzzi, Richard Spaide and Bailey Freund, he was trained in vitreo-retinal surgery and medical retina. He stayed on at Columbia as faculty member for 5 years before immigrating to Singapore in order to join his Singaporean wife who is an Economics professor.

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