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  • AGS 2024
    Comprehensive Ophthalmology, Glaucoma

    With her talk entitled “Unveiling the Science of Career Happiness,” Dr. Ruth Williams, Chief Medical Editor of EyeNet magazine and former president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, kicked off the inaugural Creatively Sharing Ideas and Inspirations (CSI2) series at the 2024 American Glaucoma Society annual meeting. Dr. Williams’ talk, inspired by the book The Good Life by Robert Waldinger, MD, and Marc Schulz, PhD, shared 3 pillars of happiness that have helped her achieve greater satisfaction and meaning in both her personal life and her life as an ophthalmologist.

    Good Relationships

    “The single most important predictor of happiness is not publishing something in a high impact journal . . . or winning an award,” Dr. Williams began. “[It] is the strength of our relationships.” These relationships aren’t just those with a spouse, family, or friends. With how much time an ophthalmologist spends at work, many of those relationships will be with colleagues. Acknowledging that achieving happiness in work relationships may seem daunting to some, Dr. Williams advised that it begins with choosing a workplace with people who have similarly aligned core values. If you can surround yourself with like-minded, supportive individuals, and take the time to cultivate these relationships (including those with technicians and managers), you’re very likely to gain a rewarding workplace culture.

    Good Work

    The second pillar may seem obvious: Do meaningful work. “After all, what can be more meaningful than preserving someone’s sight?” Dr. Williams remarked. However, she reminded the audience to reflect on what that idea encompasses. Doing good work as a glaucoma specialist involves so much more than just lowering IOP. It is also acknowledging a patient’s fear and giving them hope while traveling alongside them on their glaucoma journey.

    Good Habits

    The third and final pillar is to establish good habits. For Dr. Williams, that includes staying on time, always telling the truth (to her patients and to herself), and never forgetting to thank her staff. While good habits may look a little different to each person, establishing a core set feeds into a positive workplace culture for everyone.

    The life of a glaucoma specialist can be stressful and demanding, with burnout an ever-looming threat. By focusing on these 3 pillars, Dr. Williams believes it is possible to achieve career happiness and a work life that is just as fulfilling as one’s personal life, and her life is living proof.