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May 2010

5 Questions With Paul Rosen, BSc(Hons), MBChB, FRCS, FRCOphth, MBA

What was the most rewarding aspect of serving as president of the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ESCRS)?
I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to contribute to the development of the ESCRS. I began my term with a strategic review followed by restructuring and refining the organization of the society’s functions, especially the committees. The goals were to empower the board and facilitate the work of the committees to enable the society to grow. It is vital to encourage and promote new participants in the society and its congresses. To that end, I started the process of actively encouraging young ophthalmologists to participate by offering scholarships and bursaries; they are, after all, the future of the society. To improve access to the society for the new member countries of the European Union and Greater Europe, we moved the ESCRS Winter Meeting to Eastern Europe and offer the ESCRS Academies to national societies to support their annual meetings. Finally, I strengthened relations with other ophthalmic societies, including the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, the Asia-Pacific Association of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons, the Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology, the International Society of Refractive Surgery of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Middle East Africa Council of Ophthalmology, the European Society of Ophthalmology, and the World Ophthalmology Congress. The most exciting and stimulating part of this process was working with many talented individuals, including ophthalmologists and doctors in other disciplines and, particularly, the staff of Agenda Conference Services (Dublin, Ireland), who run the ESCRS on behalf of the board and members.

How did your previous presidency of the United Kingdom and Ireland Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (UKISCRS) prepare you to lead a larger society?
That experience gave me confidence to take on the presidency of an international organization. The UKISCRS is similar to the ESCRS in that it is a successful organization but needs to evolve to maintain its momentum. The UKISCRS has the advantage of being a smaller, national society and, theoretically, less complex. However, there are the obvious disadvantage of lacking the financial resources of the ESCRS. It was a great experience, and I hope that I was able to start the evolutionary process for the organization that recent presidents have continued.

What are the major challenges facing health care in this new decade?
There have been, and will continue to be, fantastic technological changes, but the challenge will be to deliver these advances in an efficient, cost-effective, and affordable manner to as many people as possible.

What advice would you give to colleagues trying to balance multiple professional activities such as teaching, running a private practice, and holding a board position with an ophthalmic society?
It is difficult to balance professional and family life. When you take on a senior position in any organization, you have to be willing to prioritize that role and allow other aspects of your professional life to take subsidiary roles. Therefore, I would advise those considering a board position of an ophthalmic society to think carefully before accepting the role. You must be prepared to make the commitment and be clear about your expectations of the role and understand the organization’s expectations of you. You must also be realistic about what you can achieve; you may be president for 2 years, but your aims within that period must fit with the overall strategy and long-term direction of the society.

If you were not an ophthalmologist, what profession would you be in?
Probably law, but I would like to be an astronaut.

This article is reproduced with permission from Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today Europe’s February 2010 issue.

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