Mentors & Dementors

Here is a collection of interesting articles published by our members about teachers who made a difference in our training and in the life of being a physician. The dementors are the negative examples that also taught us meaningful lessons on what not to do and they “who shall not be named” will remain anonymous. We encourage the reader to nominate teachers.

(Photo: Flight US Airways 1549, Captain Sullenberger’s Plane from the 2009 Hudson River landing. Carolina Avation Museum, Charlotte, NC)

Mentorship and its importance
We all talk about role models- to me there are a select few who shape one’s career and thinking. During residency at Northwestern University I was fortunate to train under the leadership of Dr. Lee Jampol, who is a genius in his own right. When surrounded by peers, he knew more than anyone else in the room. Patients would come from far distances to see him. During the informal retina meetings in Chicago (Rabb retina club) I was entertained by Dr. Jampol’s knowledge and his ability to surprise others with rare diagnoses.
During retina fellowship at Cole Eye Institute, I had the fortune to train under several leaders in the field at the Cleveland Clinic. One of them (Sunil Srivastava) impressed me the most due to his outgoing personality, knowledge, patient care and his unique gift of teaching. I have tried to adopt his “no complaining” attitude towards my practice and life in general. Mentors do make a difference.
Best regards,
Omar Punjabi


Maurice F. Rabb, Jr, MD: (mentor, R.I.P.)

From 1986-88, I was a retina fellow at the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary in Chicago, IL. It was there that I met many fine physicians who taught me most of what I know of Retina. Dr. Rabb was there sharing pearls of wisdom, especially at informal meetings like NCRC. He and I developed a secret handshake whenever we were in agreement about an issue. His knowledge, inspiration, and humor are missed. NCRC meetings are patterned in the same vein. …Peter VH


Stanley S. Schocket, MD and Vinod Lakhanpal, MD: (mentors, Univ. Of Maryland)

From 1983-86, I was a resident at Univ. Of Maryland and encountered these fine gentlemen that started my love for retina. They inspired my learning and also made me apply for a 2 year fellowship after I was done rather than staying in Baltimore. Their guidance helped form my learning in the field. They also taught how to be gentle and surgically persuasive with the tissue to get it where it needs to be. Stanley developed the depressor that is in common use and with unconventional thinking developed the ACTSEB procedure that eventually was developed into a glaucoma tube shunt like device for rubeotic glaucoma in 1985. There were many other insights and pearls of wisdom handed down to the residents. Many thanks are in order. …PeterVH

Schocket SS, Nirankari V, Lakhanpal V, Richards RD, Lerner BC.  Anterior chamber tube shunt to an encircling band in the treatment of neovascular glaucoma and other refractory glaucomas:  A long term study.  Ophthalmology 1985;  92:552-562.


Dementor #1:

While getting a Goldman Fundus exam, this gentleman was thoroughly cleaning the lens with bleach but did not rinse it enough before putting it on my eye. I now have a new experience and appreciation for clean equipment! …PeterVH


Dementor #2:

Assisting in a very long retinal detachment surgery that had subretinal fibrotic band from chronic retinal detachment, the concept of planning the surgery, executing the plan and being decisive was the lesson learned. After eight hours of indecision and surgery, I suggested a retinotomy (before that was acceptable concept). I took a Grieshabber scissor, made two retinotomies in the periphery and cut the suspending scar tissue that was not letting the retina flatten. I then took a forceps and reached into the subretinal space and removed the offending scar tissue like pulling an octopus out of a hole. The tentacles of the scar tissue came out and the retina settled back into position before the attending could object to the maneuver. I’m glad I was not fired on the spot! …PeterVH


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