“Yes, of course!” I replied with a smile.
Never one to shy away from new challenges, that was how I started studying abroad. And it was also how everything started, how I got involved with the European Society of Ophthalmology (SOE) and relocated to Los Angeles.
Later, when asked if I would go to Vietnam and help with a corneal surgical skills exchange program, I responded similarly. What followed was much more than I would have ever expected.
During the four days I spent in Ho Chi Minh City, we had to decide daily whether one of the many patients we saw would be a keratoplasty candidate. We would explain the rationale to the attendings, conduct a wet lab to go through the surgical steps and assist the local surgeons in performing those procedures, all via interpreters. The days were long, but the experience was hugely rewarding.
I witnessed firsthand how the local surgeons tackle some of the most challenging cases I have ever come across, which were not unusual due to the late presentations. Working through these cases together, there was no specific roles of instructor and trainee but instead a sense of camaraderie. And true to the spirit of the program, we exchanged our skills and techniques in corneal surgery, which my patients have benefited from to this very day.
Although COVID-19 put a stop to most international travel, even now many global young ophthalmologists (YOs) have embraced the challenge with confidence and determination. Recognized as leaders in the field, YOs have broken both physical and virtual barriers and continued to exchange ideas and skills using new technology and channels of communication — webinars, livestreams and teleconferences, just to name a few. As a result, the ophthalmic community has never been more closely connected.
The 2021 YO Info International Edition is a celebration of the resilience, innovation and versatility of the global YO community, despite the challenges we’ve faced over the last year. A truly international collaboration, we invited a worldwide panel of YOs to share their experience.
Whether it’s about transforming the delivery of ophthalmic care, maintaining the momentum of global ophthalmology or what the post-pandemic future holds, look no further. And if you’re hoping to undertake a global ophthalmology fellowship, we’ve also included an overview of these programs in the United States.
I hope you enjoy reading this issue. And remember to say “yes” to the next opportunity you come across — an incredible adventure could be just around the corner.
Simon Fung, MD, MA, FRCOphth
Assistant Professor of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Corneal and External Diseases, University of California, Los Angeles
Chair of the YO International Subcommittee
The 2021 YO Info International Edition is available as a series of web pages. Tip: To save online articles for future reference, log in with your member account and click "Add to My To-Do List."
A World United Against COVID-19
5 Ways to Apply the Art of War to Service Redesign
Global Fellowships: New Opportunities in Ophthalmology Training
Dr. Simon Fung: Travels in Vietnam