For this month’s YO Spotlight, we talked to Bente Haughom, MD, of Oslo, Norway, a graduate of the European Society of Ophthalmology’s 2007-2009 Leadership Development Programme.
Dr. Haughom is a member of the Academy’s Global ONE Advisory Board and splits her time between a small private practice and the Institute of Aviation Medicine in Oslo (located at the University in Oslo, but a military position). Following medical school at the University of Oslo, she completed her training at the University Hospital in Oslo and then worked three years at a small ophthalmology unit in Fredrikstad, which she describes as “very rewarding.”
- Why did you become an ophthalmologist? Simply because it was the only specialty I really had enjoyed and found interesting from day one. During my early training, before specializing, I worked some months at an emergency outpatient clinic in Oslo. In between the acute abdomens, heart failures and acute asthma patients, we were assigned acute ENT or eye patients, and it was especially gratifying to treat the ophthalmic patients.
- What does a typical day look like for you? It depends on where I’m working. Currently, I do medical ophthalmology in a private practice in Oslo, and I look forward to developing the practice with an operating unit in 2011. At the Aeromedical centre, the main assignment is occupational medicine...licensing and certification of pilots and aviators.
- What do you like most about the organization/health system/region where you practice? Our system is not perfect, but I think the Norwegian system is satisfactory, because most patients that need necessary treatment get it, with no regard to income or insurance.
- What's the hardest thing you've had to do? The hardest thing is telling parents that their child will have a permanent visual impairment. Especially after an injury, this sometimes must be repeated, but at the same time, it is wrong to take their hope away too soon.
- What's the best piece of advice you've gotten in your career so far? Find something you can be good at. Even early in your career, you can choose a small subject, study some articles and maybe even send in a case history to a journal.
- What advice would you give a resident or someone considering ophthalmology as a specialty? First of all: Just do it! It gives you more choices than you think. You can work as a surgeon, a medical doctor, in a private or public setting, with volunteering, occupational medicine or in academia.
And when you are there: Find a forum, discuss cases and patients with your colleagues, even though this can expose the fact that you have not given them the optimal treatment all the time. If you experience complications, don’t leave the patients alone with all the questions, but keep an open door to these patients and try to explain to them why it happened.
It's also important to see different ways of treating patients; maybe work in different settings or take some time to visit other departments (this is also one reason why the Norwegian Ophthalmological Society has twinned with the Minnesota society).
- What do you find fulfilling about your career in ophthalmology? The diversity, the patients and the colleagues. The whole package.
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