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  • ‘Pick the Work You Most Enjoy’: An Interview With EnergEYES Award Winner William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS

    Many young ophthalmologists know William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS, as the energetic moderator of the annual meeting’s YO Program. But Dr. Lloyd, honored with the Academy’s EnergEYES Award at AAO 2014, has a much longer career of mentoring residents than you might guess from the YO Program.

    A career military surgeon, Dr. Lloyd completed his ophthalmology residency at Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston — a national historic landmark in San Antonio considered one of the Army’s oldest installations. After several tours, he finished an ophthalmic pathology fellowship at Wills Eye Hospital and returned to Brooke to join the residency training program. It was during this time that Dr. Lloyd’s professional life struck a balance between teaching residents, delivering patient care and providing eye pathology services to teaching programs in the surrounding San Antonio area. After retiring from the Army in 1999, he transitioned to academic medicine and has continued to teach eye pathology to residents.

    “He’s been energizing young physicians his entire career,” said incoming YO committee chair Purnima S. Patel, MD. The YO Committee recommended that the Academy’s board of trustees approve Dr. Lloyd for the 2014 EnergEYES Award. The award recognizes ophthalmologists who have demonstrated exemplary leadership skills and displayed a high degree of energy to inspire YOs. Dr. Lloyd joins a group of esteemed ophthalmologists who have been previously honored with the award.

    Left to right: Michael Feilmeier, MD, Dr. Patel, Dr. Lloyd, Secretary for Member Services Tamara Fountain, MD, Robert Melendez, MD, MBA, Olivia Lee, MD, and David Parke III, MD.
    Left to right: Michael Feilmeier, MD, Dr. Patel, Dr. Lloyd, Secretary for Member Services Tamara Fountain, MD, Robert Melendez, MD, MBA, Olivia Lee, MD, and David Parke III, MD.

    “He’s been so influential,” Dr. Patel said. “He’s taught me to never stop learning and teaching.” In fact, his influence is felt by all Academy YOs. For the past five years, he’s served as the moderator for the annual meeting’s YO Program. “His experience, energy and innovations have laid the foundation for its growth and success,” Dr. Patel added.

    In an interview with YO Info after receiving the award in Chicago, Dr. Lloyd discussed his career — his mentors and the importance of family — and provided some advice that all YOs should take to heart.

    YO Info: Who were some of the mentors that truly shaped your career?

    I’ve been fortunate to have many mentors during my career, but two really stand out.

    Mike Brennan, MD, the Academy’s international envoy and a past president, was my tireless chief resident decades ago. Mike always made himself available to patients and staff 24/7. You could ask him anything, and he would always have a good answer! His energy, clinical acumen and endearing sense of humor were truly inspirational. Our paths continue to intersect after these many years, and I still rely on his wise counsel. Having a mentor, though, is not a free ride. For example, in 2002, Mike asked me to join the faculty of the Academy’s Leadership Development Program to lead an annual workshop on negotiation skills for ophthalmologists. I continue to participate as a way to honor all that Mike has done for me.

    Another important mentor is Ralph C. Eagle Jr., MD, with whom I trained during my fellowship at Wills. As a rookie eye pathologist, I routinely relied on him to help guide me towards more precise diagnoses. He was extremely patient and generous, yet demanding at the same time. Ralph also taught me how to structure better lectures and, as a result, become a better educator in the process. I don’t think I’ve ever made a career move without first discussing it with him.

    YO Info: As moderator of this year’s YO Program, you touched on the importance of family. What influence has your own family had on your career and how you practice medicine?

    Without a doubt, my wife, Mary A. O’Hara, MD, has had the greatest singular impact on my career. We trained together and then raised three wonderful children. Since Mary and I shared parallel career paths, we were really able to understand and support each other in navigating the challenges that confront all ophthalmologists.

    We each inherited a sturdy Irish pedigree that values education and family cohesion. So, early on, we committed that we would find the time to participate in our children’s school and social activities. Making family the priority compelled me to become a more efficient ophthalmologist: see those patients, make those rounds and complete those records … one of our children always had a soccer match!

    Editor’s note: Dr. O’Hara is chief of pediatric ophthalmology at the University of California, Davis and a 2003 graduate of the Academy’s Leadership Development Program.

    YO Info: What were your favorite aspects of training?

    A generation ago, one of the great advantages of military medicine was the absence of intrusive economic pressures on patient care. We never had to ask a patient if they could afford the recommended treatment. If a patient needed something, they got it. Sometimes, we would bring patients their prescriptions right to their home. On other occasions, we would personally transport our patients to grand rounds.

    And despite being a military training program, the culture within our residency was more like that of a big family. There was deep loyalty and camaraderie between staff and residents, and as a resident, everyone knew each other’s family. It seemed that every weekend someone was hosting some kind of social event. And after graduation, you would continue to practice with these same ophthalmologists at other installations. So, your reputation followed you very closely.

    YO Info: What was the most useful advice you received when you began your career?

    The most important piece of advice I received is to not worry about future income — pick the work you most enjoy. Over the long haul, you can only be good at doing the things that you like. Financial compensation will be waiting for you. Sure, you can fake it for a while, but, eventually, you’ll be miserable if your work life remains unsatisfying.

    My own advice for today’s residents is to never forget that your patients are the best, most generous teachers. Learn from them every day! For those YOs in their first few years of practice, be an active alumni and stay connected to your residency and fellowship faculty whatever the size of the institution — they have plenty more to offer you. All young physicians should also get involved with their local and state eye societies, as well as Academy activities. Doing so will invigorate your professional life and help you build a powerful network.

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