EDITORIAL – NEVER STOP LEARNING
As chairman of the Young Ophthalmologists Forum, I am delighted that EuroTimes has decided to dedicate this issue to doctors in training. As experienced ophthalmologists we sometimes speak a lot about the importance of supporting our younger colleagues, but it is even more important that our actions support our words and that we give practical help and support to our trainees.
In the last five years, the ESCRS has dedicated significant resources to helping young ophthalmologists and we will continue to do so in the future. As is pointed out in this month’s EuroTimes cover story, we want our trainees to have a good medical knowledge, which they can obtain by watching videos and reading books. In addition, the ESCRS has the iLearn programme which gives them the opportunity to obtain all the medical knowledge they need on their computers and tablets.
Personal interaction with their colleagues and mentors is also very important, and I would urge them to attend the annual ESCRS Congress and the cataract and refractive surgery didactic courses at the ESCRS Winter Meeting. Wetlabs are also very important as Sorcha Ni Dhughaill notes in her article in this month’s issue.
Dr Sidath Liyanage, winner of this year’s John Henahan Prize writing competition, makes this argument a lot more eloquently than I could have done. The years in training can be very exciting but at times they can also be depressing and lonely. Even the most brilliant surgeons experience self-doubt, regardless of how many years they have been in practice.
As with other professions, the more you practise the better you will get, and you must always be prepared to make mistakes. We all learn from our mistakes and these mistakes help to make us better doctors.
Another message that I try to pass on to my trainees is the importance of treating patients with respect. That does not mean simply saying “please” or “thank you”. Every patient has his or her own individual needs and we should know as much as we can about our patients before we operate on them. We should never make promises that we cannot keep and we should always be honest with our patients.
I would ask all of my trainees: “Why do you want to become an ophthalmologist?” Some will answer honestly that it can be financially rewarding and that it can earn them good lifestyles. I have no problem with this answer as long as they can also tell me that they will never put the pursuit of financial gain before the care of their patients.
In conclusion, I must also stress that the best mentors or trainers are those who listen to their trainees. With that in mind, I look forward to seeing you all at the 20th ESCRS Winter Meeting in Athens, Greece, from 26–28 February next year, and I urge you to join us at the Young Ophthalmologists sessions.