What is your hometown?
Anderson, South Carolina
What is your official title?
Medical Director of Skin Care at The Gallery; retired Ophthalmologist.
How/when did you become interested in science and medicine?
When I was a 5th and 6th grader at Greenwood Elementary School in Des Moines, I had some great teachers who pointed me in that direction. My dad, who studied Civil Engineering at Georgia Tech, used to discuss chemistry with me, telling me about valences, the periodic chart, Boyles Law, Charles Law, how molecules were formed and reformed, and I was hooked. From those days on all I wanted to do was be a chemist and study the sciences. Fortunately, I loved to read and studied everything I could along those lines.
What interested you to pursue a career in medicine and medical education?
I went to Davidson College in North Carolina and once again had some professors who inspired me. Chief among them was Dr. Olin Puckett, who was head of the biology department, and encouraged me to take a look at medicine rather than chemistry as a career. I finished a double major in chemistry and biology and was accepted at the University Iowa Carver College of Medicine.
Please highlight your major career achievements, awards, discoveries, etc.
I graduated from the University of Iowa Medical School in 1966 and then did a rotating Internship at Denver General Hospital in Denver, Colorado. I was a Flight Surgeon U.S. Army for the 214th Combat Aviation Battalion in Bear Cat Vietnam. I did my Ophthalmology Residency at the University of Iowa in the Deptartment of Ophthalmology from 1970 to1973. I was a Clinical Instructor of Ophthalmology the University of Iowa. I practiced general ophthalmology at Medicus, a multispecialty group in Anderson, SC, until 2002. Presently, I am semi-retired working part-time as Medical Director of Skin Care at The Gallery.
Is there a teacher, mentor or UI Carver College of Medicine faculty member who has helped shape your education?
I had several: Dr. Ray Bunge, Department of Urology; Dr. Fernando Aleu, Neuropathologist; Dr. Bill Bean, Department of Internal Medicine; Dr. Ignacio Ponseti, Department of Orthopaedics; Dr. Al Braley, Department of Ophthalmology; Dr. Ralph Janes, Department of Anatomy; Dr. Fred Blodi, Department of Ophthalmology.
I will be forever grateful to these men who took time to spend with me, to mentor me and be role models. Each one of them changed my life in many ways. Dr. Bunge encouraged me to seek out faculty members and ask for time with them. Dr. Bean not only pointed me toward medicine's rich historical perspective, but the importance of speaking other languages. Drs. Aleu and Ponseti arranged for me to spend six months in Barcelona, Spain working at a surgical clinic learning Spanish and experiencing a different medical culture. Dr. Janes let me work for him in his research lab all four years earning much needed funds and fueling my interest in the eye’s anatomy and diseases. Dr. Braley was one of the most dynamic lecturers we had our sophomore year making the eye seem almost magical. Dr. Blodi kept me on track during my residency.
How or why did you choose the University of Iowa for your education and medical training?
Great school and I was an in state student with my parents living close by in Cedar Rapids, IA.
What kind of professional opportunities or advantages has your University of Iowa medical training provided?
Probably the greatest has been leading my interests toward Ophthalmology, which turned out to be a perfect fit for me. Iowa had one of the best eye programs in the country and in those days we were trained to do everything from corneal transplants to retinal surgery. The practice I joined had two Iowa trained ophthalmologists, who practiced high quality ethical medicine. My broad training allowed me to step in and contribute immediately.
What still resonates with you today about your training at Iowa?
I think the close relationships and camaraderie with fellow students and faculty members who took time to have us in their homes for drinks, dinner and conversation, or come to our house for the same. It was an extremely stimulating and exciting time in my life. There was a cooperative atmosphere, for the most part, where the message was "if you are willing to work, everyone here can graduate."
Please describe your professional interests.
I practiced at Medicus a multispecialty group in Anderson, SC for almost 30 years. We were originally an EENT practice and have stayed that way over the years with eye and ENT physicians. When I first started in practice I did a little bit of everything. This included cataract surgery, strabismus, retinal detachments, corneal transplants, oculoplastics, and soon retinal laser procedures. I had to learn the new cataract procedure of phakoemulsification and intra ocular lens implantation shortly after starting my practice. Eventually, I became interested in oculoplastics and did most of that type of work for our group in addition to general ophthalmology. I also did aviation medicine working for the FAA as an Aviation Medical Examiner.
What are some of your outside interests?
I am a partner in a professional photography business doing weddings, portraits, dog shows, football, and basketball games. We also shoot nature and wildlife mostly for fun. My wife is an accomplished photographer too, winning many awards. We train dogs and compete in dog obedience trials and field events with our German Shepherds, Golden and Lab. I work part time at a Medical Spa as their Medical Director which dove tails with my interest in oculoplastics. I am a current instrument rated private pilot and outdoors man, who likes to hunt and fish. My wife and I enjoy travelling and doing travel photography, including the Arctic, Antarctic, Africa and South America.
Do you have an insight or philosophy that guides you in your professional work?
The practice I joined here has had five graduates of the Department of Ophthalmology at Iowa who have practiced here. The deciding factor in my choice to come to Anderson, SC was the fact that two Iowa grads were already here. My philosophy and that of the group has always been to be of service by providing cutting-edge medical care to any and everyone regardless of ability to pay or not. We support the local Free Clinic providing exams, consults, surgery and medications to their patients without charge.
If you could change one thing about the practice or business of medicine, what would it be?
More focus on helping people take ownership for their own health and disease prevention by modifying their lifestyles.
What is the biggest change you've experienced in medicine since you were a student?
Technological advances, liability issues, surgical advances, availability of new medicines, sub specialization within the field, and third party influences.
What one piece of advice would you give to today's medical students?
You have to love what you are doing, if not do something else.
What do you see as "the future" of the medicine?
We will eventually have to face the issue of self destructive behaviors in our society. Addictions, drug and alcohol use, smoking, obesity, sedentary life style and poor dietary habits are all leading causes of major medical problems which are preventable. The cost of caring for these diseases will eventually force us to address them head on.
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