Scholarship Winner - January 2019
Rebecca Sieburth, MD
PGY-3 Ophthalmology resident
University of Virginia
I am grateful and honored to have been given the opportunity to work with Dr. Chen. He is an experienced ophthalmic physician and surgeon, is trusted in and admired by his patients, and is deeply rooted in his local community. Observing him in his clinic and in the OR gave me a broader perspective of advanced anterior segment surgical technologies as well as the function of a highly efficient and patient centered private practice.
In clinic, Dr. Chen manages a busy solo practice long established in the Honolulu community. His ability to speak multiple languages fluently endears him to a diverse population, many of whom are elderly, whose care is enhanced both by Dr. Chen’s ability to speak their mother tongue as well as his understanding of their culture. Patients and their families have an incredible level of trust in Dr. Chen, and the relationships that he has built with his patients and their families are inspiring. His generosity towards his patients, including provision of charity care, is recognized and appreciated by many in his community. Additionally, he is systematic and efficient in clinic, and capably sees a large volume while maintaining high standards of quality including performing all preoperative IOL calculations himself.
In the OR, Dr. Chen used ORA, Verion, and LensSx in performing complex and premium cataract surgeries. Both the setup of the ambulatory surgery center at which he operates and his surgical techniques differ slightly from what I have previously experienced during my residency training, and it was very valuable to observe the safety, efficacy, and efficiency of these different methods. Patients undergoing cataract surgery are sedated with oral benzodiazepines and topical anesthesia; ORA is used to confirm IOL selection, as well as to fine tune AK sufficiency intraoperatively. Lenses are phacoemulsified by bowling out the center of the lens, then lifting up the lens shell into the anterior chamber and using chopping techniques to break up the lens. His generosity and ethicality in providing certain “premium” services such as LensSx for free in deserving and complex cases is commendable.
As a mentor, Dr. Chen taught me a great deal in both clinical and nonclinical settings. He introduced my husband and I to Hawaiian culture and hospitality, taking us out to lunch daily at a variety of Asian and Hawaiian restaurants, including a wonderful welcome lunch at his local country club. He generously shared lessons of his experience in balancing life inside and outside of work, and the balance he has achieved in his own practice is admirable.
Dr. Chen was also an academic mentor. He gave me the opportunity to write and publish a systematic review article, as well as present this scholarly work at the quarterly meeting of the Study Club for Ophthalmic Research in Hawaii (SCORH). This was a lovely dinner meeting attended by a large number of academically involved and very accomplished Hawaiian ophthalmologists, as well as medical students at the University of Hawaii. It was wonderful to observe the camaraderie, intellectual discussion, and academic supportiveness among this physician community.
After clinic and the OR, Dr. Chen granted me the free time to explore Honolulu as well as the island of O’ahu with my husband. Among other activities, we were able to tour Waikiki, experience Chinese New Year festivities in Chinatown, watch the Volcom professional surfing tournament at the Banzai Pipeline, visit a variety of beaches, and hike the Koko head, Makapu’u Point Lighthouse, and Kaiwa Ridge trails.
On my last day rotating with him, Dr. Chen celebrated my graduation from his fellowship with a dinner at a local Chinese restaurant during Chinese New Year, inviting his friends and wife, bringing a special bottle of wine to celebrate, and discussing personally with the chef so that we could all share an amazing last meal. During my time in his fellowship, I felt truly welcomed not only as a guest but also as a mentee and future colleague, and I will always remember the incredible hospitality shown to myself and my husband during this time.
The Ming Chen Foundation Scholarship is a wonderful experience and I would recommend it to anyone. It can be easy to lose perspective during residency on what lies ahead, and this opportunity allowed me to take a step back and reflect on my goals as a physician in training. I am deeply grateful for this opportunity, and for Dr. Chen’s generosity and investment in contributing to the education of future ophthalmologists.