Dear Ophthalmology Times readers,
My name is Neda Shamie, and I am humbly writing my first editorial as the co–chief medical editor of Ophthalmology Times, alongside my longtime mentor in ophthalmology, Peter J. McDonnell, MD.
I am a cataract, refractive, and corneal surgeon and a partner at the Maloney-Shamie Vision Institute in Los Angeles, California. My path has been a circuitous one that started because McDonnell gave me a chance 25 years ago.
You see, I was on my path to becoming an interventional cardiologist when one late night during my second-year internal medicine residency, while the exhausted me was admitting my 10th cardiac patient into the cardiac care unit (CCU), I had an epiphany that led me to question the career path I was on. In that very moment of questioning the choice of cardiology and its related work-life challenges as my future, I overheard a University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), second-year ophthalmology resident speak of dropping out of her program and feeling distressed about leaving her spot unfilled.
I perceived that synchronicity as a sign telling the youthful me to reconsider my choice, and I started thinking of ophthalmology for my future. The issue, though, was that my exposure to ophthalmology had been late in my medical school training and I had not had enough time to build my momentum in pursuit of ophthalmology as a career choice. But the middle-of-the-night coincidence in the CCU piqued my interest again and led me down the path that followed.
That UCLA resident actually decided not to drop out, but as luck would have it, a University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine), resident dropped out of his program the following week, leaving vacant a second-year spot. I immediately put together my résumé, gathered my recommendation letters, and called the program chair’s office at UC Irvine to inquire about applying for the open spot. I was promptly informed that the interest in that spot was more than had been expected and they were not accepting any more applicants.
My mind, though, was set on seeking out the opportunity that had presented itself to me almost as though it was rigged to work in my favor, so instead of taking no for an answer, I drove the hour to UC Irvine, got there after everyone but the cleaning crew had left, and slipped my résumé and cover letter under the closed office door of the chairman, McDonnell.
The next day I got a phone call from the assistant, who said McDonnell was impressed by my tenacity and had decided to accept 1 more application to be considered for the open spot. I interviewed with him and was offered the 1 coveted spot to enter the ophthalmology residency program at UC Irvine.
So when McDonnell reached out to me 25 years later to join him as the co-chief medical editor of Ophthalmology Times, I responded with deep gratitude and great enthusiasm. Through the many experiences I have had through the years, I have learned over and over again that there is an abundance of wonderful opportunities if we allow ourselves the chance to see them, seek them, and grasp them.
Thank you for giving me yet another wonderful opportunity to grow.