Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scrubs, House, Nip/Tuck, ER (my favorite that just went off the air)—why are there so many TV shows about physicians? My simple answer is that nothing is quite as compelling or as important as making a difference in people’s lives. As a whole, we ophthalmologists do good work on a daily basis, but it simply is not enough. Our neighbors need a helping hand now more than ever, and we are in a position to make a difference.
President Barack Obama, a fervent proponent of volunteerism, has said, “Service binds us to each other and to our community and our country in a way that nothing else can.”1 I am extremely proud of my practice, which has more than 20 doctors and hundreds of staff members. As with most ophthalmology practices, my colleagues and I take good care of our patients, including those who cannot afford our care. In addition, the staff makes a concerted effort to give back to the community. Each day that I walk into the office, I am greeted by a bake sale, food drive, or walk-a-thon for an important community- related charity. Our practice has become a part of the community it serves, and the staff and physicians are bound together in a way that goes beyond ophthalmology and patients’ care. The office is full of ordinary people who perform extraordinary acts by volunteering. They contribute time, effort, and energy to support programs our community deserves.
Everyone needs inspiration and passion in his or her life. Both may be found by volunteering. Readers can teach residents, write articles (like the authors in this month’s edition of Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today who donated their time to advance patients’ care), join community groups, or coach Little League. They can create an office environment that supports volunteering. My belated New Year’s wish is that readers join me in thanking the volunteers everywhere who may never be portrayed on a TV show but who truly make a difference.
—Eric D. Donnenfeld, MD
Chief Medical Editor