• 3 Tips for Career Success from 2017 EnergEYES Awardee Mark J. Mannis, MD

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    2017 EnergEYES Award Winner Mark J. Mannis, MD

    Mark J. Mannis, MD, a California ophthalmologist, has spent almost 40 years mentoring as a physician, a residency director and a leader in academic and organized medicine. These efforts earned him the Academy’s EnergEYES Award during AAO 2017 in New Orleans.

    Since 2009, the Academy has presented the EnergEYES Award to an ophthalmologist who exhibits exemplary leadership skills. The awardee demonstrates the best in ophthalmology by energizing young ophthalmologists, serving as a strong role model and motivating others to get involved.

    Dr. Mannis reflects here on his role as a mentor and gives advice for how young ophthalmologists can get the most out of a successful — and healthy — career in ophthalmology.

    Mentoring — A Major Career Accomplishment

    Dr. Mannis completed his ophthalmology residency training at Washington University in St. Louis and a fellowship in cornea and external disease at the University of Iowa in 1980. During that time, he began envisioning a career that included clinical practice, research and training, so he started looking for academic opportunities. He landed at the University of California-Davis, where his own mentor, John Keltner, MD, showed him the ropes. Dr. Mannis has remained there ever since, working his way from associate professor to residency director to, now, chair of the department of ophthalmology and vision sciences and director of the UC Davis Eye Center.

    Throughout it all, Dr. Mannis has taken pride in prioritizing patient care and advancing clinical research. But what’s the most enjoyable part of his day? It’s helping the next generation become better ophthalmologists. “If I look back on my career, I’ve accomplished many things,” he said. “What I’m most proud of, though, is the training that I’ve done with residents and fellows, because it really is something that gives back to the profession when the current generation moves on.”

    As a bonus, mentoring young ophthalmologists also keeps him on his toes. “(They) don’t put up with any subterfuge,” he said. “They make you honest, and they make you smart. So mentoring has really been a way to stimulate my own development as a clinician and a scientist, as well as a human being.”

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    3 Tips for a Successful and Enduring Career

    Whether he’s working with young ophthalmologists side by side in the clinic or pushing them to get more involved at an organizational level, Dr. Mannis is always trying to maximize their potential to improve the future of the profession.

    What’s his advice?

    1. Stay devoted to clinical care. Your primary purpose and highest priority must always be your patients’ welfare. “Everybody who goes into ophthalmology does well from a financial standpoint. But the motivation for what you do should always be your love of clinical science and your patients.”
    2. Become a leader. All young ophthalmologists should get involved in advocacy, he said, citing the multitude of opportunities the Academy offers. “This involvement can mean different things, be it attending the Mid-Year Forum, participating in the Academy’s Leadership Development Program, investing in OPHTHPAC and the Surgical Scope Fund or joining your state ophthalmology society. Whatever the avenue, YOs need to learn how to fight for the best patient care, fight for federal funding and fight for clinical research.”
    3. Maintain your own garden. An underappreciated skill for ophthalmologists, noted Dr. Mannis, is making sure you don’t sacrifice your personal health and happiness to your profession. “Your own wellbeing isn’t an extraneous part of your career — it’s essential. Whether it be family, hobbies, athletics, music or art, diversion from the refracting light is key! You need to develop something that takes you outside of the day-to-day stress, because when all is said and done, regardless of how many patients you’ve seen, how much money you’ve made or how many awards you’ve received, what really matters are your personal and family health and happiness. And that needs to be tended to just as much as your practice.”

    Watch the 2017 EnergEYES Award presentation below.

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    About the author: Mike Mott is a former assistant editor for EyeNet Magazine and contributing writer for YO Info.