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  • 2024 President Jane C. Edmond, MD: Bright Futures, Professional Challenges, and Staying Engaged


    On Jan. 1, Jane C. Edmond, MD, became the Academy’s 128th president. An ophthalmologist who specializes in both pediatric and neuro-ophthalmology, she brings a wealth of leadership experience to the role. Dr. Edmond currently serves as the inaugural chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School, director of the Mitchel and Shannon Wong Eye Institute, and vice dean of professional practice.

    “Life is too short to spend most of your waking hours with people or in organizations that are not aligned with your values. Work for and with people who care about you as a human being.”

    Now leading the Academy’s community of 32,000 ophthalmologists, she faces an especially exciting set of new challenges and is particularly focused on addressing physician and staff shortages and protecting patient safety at a time when nonphysicians are attempting to expand their scopes of practice into eye surgery.

    Dr. Edmond recently sat down with YO Info to offer her take on what the future holds for YOs, how you can best optimize your young careers, and the importance of engaging in advocacy efforts.

    Despite the challenges, why should YOs be optimistic about their future in ophthalmology?  

    Dr. Edmond: Despite the reimbursement and regulatory hardships, ophthalmologists more than any other medical specialty have the greatest ability to significantly improve a person’s quality of life by treating (and curing) sight-threatening conditions. The nature of our work, our patients’ gratitude — this is what keeps me optimistic, and I hope the same for my YO colleagues. 

    Looking back on your career, how has the YO experience changed over the years? What’s different and what has remained the same?

    Dr. Edmond: When the YOs came into being in 1992, I was well into MO-dom — with “MO” being the unofficial acronym for “middle-aged ophthalmologist!” … ;-) Therefore, for me, as an early career ophthalmologist, there was little (or no) programming targeted to my demographic. 

    Although I might come across as envious (OK, maybe I am a little!), celebrating and supporting the YOs is the best thing that ever happened to the Academy. Our YOs are full of energy and enthusiasm with willingness to engage. YOs have brought innovative and successful ideas to the Academy like the Leadership Development Program, as well as our recent sustainability initiative. And I am pretty sure that the YO party at the annual meeting was another successful YO idea! ;-) Go YOs!  

    What tips do you have for how YOs can achieve their most successful careers? 

    Dr. Edmond:

    1. Don’t work for or with jerks. Life is too short to spend most of your waking hours with people or in organizations that are not aligned with your values. Work for and with people who care about you as a human being. 
    2. Don’t pursue a career path with financial gain as the top priority. Financial stability is important, but aligning your work with your passions will lead to sustained satisfaction and greater achievements. 
    3. Be open to and invite feedback. Despite what our doting caregivers might have told us as kids, we ain’t perfect. Acting on feedback is a tremendous opportunity for personal and professional growth.  

    Why is it important for YOs to not only stay active in advocacy efforts, but also stay involved in the Academy throughout their careers?

    Dr. Edmond: I have one question for our YO readers that should explain the vital importance of being involved in advocacy: “Would you be OK with your mom receiving an SLT or YAG capsulotomy from someone who ‘learned’ the technique at a weekend course, taking turns on a single patient?” I hope that question compels every single YO to join their state societies and donate to the Surgical Scope Fund and OPHTHPAC®

    As for engaging in the Academy, I can honestly say that my involvement with the organization has been the most personally and professionally gratifying experience of my three-plus-decades-long career. The Academy is a values-driven organization that never loses sight of its vision and mission of protecting sight and empowering lives. I am humbled and honored to serve as the current president of this exemplary organization, which places the highest priority on advocating for our patients, our members and our profession.