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We celebrate our Special Honoree, Susan H. Day, MD. During her remarkable career Dr. Day has served as president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Ophthalmological Society, the Association of University Professors in Ophthalmology, the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus and was chair of numerous other organizations and committees.
Dr. Day was born in Shreveport, La., and grew up in a house filled with music. Her mother played the piano and was the accompanist for a glee club in which her parents met. Her father also played the piano, as well as the carillon in the Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago, and later became professor of music education at Louisiana State University. With such a family background, a life in music seemed to be her destination. At a young age, Dr. Day began to study piano, play the flute and sing in her church choir. But it turned out that her early experience in music may have been what led her to consider a career in medicine, when a female pediatrician in the choir took the young Day under her wing.
After graduating magna cum laude, she matriculated at the LSU School of Medicine, where she earned her MD. Her experiences during those years also convinced her that she wanted to be an ophthalmologist. But this led to a rude awakening, when she learned how difficult it was for women to be considered for positions in surgical fields in the southeast United States during the 1970s. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, however, since it led to one of the most important transformations of her life.
San Francisco in the 1970s was barely on the map for a young lady from Louisiana, but during a fortuitous trip there with the LSU band, to play at the East-West Shriner’s game, she was captivated by the beauty of the region that would eventually become her new home. She returned a few years later for an internship at Letterman Army Medical Center and then her ophthalmology residency at Pacific Medical Center (now California Pacific Medical Center). She recalls the serendipity of entering “the elite worlds of Drs. Bob Shaffer, Bruce Spivey, Bill Spencer, Art Jampolsky, Alan Scott and Bob Stamper.” These luminaries of our profession helped shape her career in such a way that her name would one day be added to that list.
During her years in ophthalmology, Dr. Day rose to international prominence as a clinician and surgeon, an educator, administrator and a leader of our profession. She served as president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Ophthalmological Society, Association of University Professors in Ophthalmology and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus and was the chair or member of numerous other organizations and committees.
Dr. Day has been in constant demand nationally and internationally as a visiting professor and guest lecturer, which includes 17 named lectures. She has published extensively in her chosen field of pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus and has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the AOS Lucien Howe Medal, the Academy and AAPOS Lifetime Achievement Awards and the Academy’s EnergEYES Award.
Throughout her career in ophthalmology and medical education, music remained an important part of her life. During medical school, she played in a woodwind quintet and later joined a group of ophthalmology musicians who provided noontime concerts for many years during the Academy’s annual meetings. Her most memorable musical experience came in 1982, when she performed Mozart’s D major concerto in Davies Hall with the San Francisco Symphony.
And so, the remarkable life of Dr. Susan Day continues to unfold. And, although it is hard to say precisely where this new chapter will lead, two things are clear. She will continue to bring joy to the lives of others through her dedication to medicine and music. And she will eventually return to her beloved home by the Bay.
For questions? Contact Tina McGovern at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415.447.0386.