What made you want to get your M.D. degree from WVU?
I loved my undergraduate experience at WVU, and I had a very tight-knit group of friends that were interested in medical school. WVU also offered the opportunity to apply early decision with tuition benefits. I still remember all of us being at a Thursday night WVU football tailgate and I got phone calls from Dr. Ferrari and Dr. Cather to tell us we had been accepted. I’m pretty sure WVU won the game that evening, so it was a great night to be a Mountaineer!
What made you want to become a doctor? Is there an experience you had that made you realize why you chose this profession?
My younger brother had a pediatric ophthalmologist, and I would go with him to the appointments on occasion. The ophthalmologist looked like he really enjoyed his job and the effect he had on his patients was inspiring. I shadowed him in high school and thought this is what I want to do with my life. That pediatric ophthalmologist, Dr. Geoffrey Bradford, became my program director later in life!
What was your favorite part of the program?
My favorite part of the program had to be my co-residents. We shared countless hours on call together and in the resident work room after hours. Everyone was always willing to help each other out. I consider these to be some of my best friends to this day.
What memory stands out the most from your time in medical school?
I think the memory that stands out the most is Match Day. It is a once-in-a-lifetime event where you get to see so many dreams come true. After all that hard work, to be able to celebrate the payoff is very rewarding!
Where did you complete your residency?
I did my ophthalmology residency at WVU. I had the opportunity as a medical student to rotate through the department and I felt it was the perfect mix of personalities and experience that would help me become the ophthalmologist I wanted to be. It was a very rigorous program, with lots of surgical and clinical experience, but it was also a very welcoming and tight-knit program. It felt like home.
How did WVU shape you into the doctor that you are now?
I credit WVU for instilling in me the values of hard work, dedication and, above all else, approaching each person with empathy. One of my favorite quotes is from Dr. Jame Abraham, who was at WVU when I was a student. He would always tell us to remember, “in the end, only kindness matters.” I still reflect on that with every challenging case. It is not just what we do that matters, but how we do it.
What do you do now?
I am an assistant professor in ophthalmology at the Cullen Eye Institute at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. I specialize in cornea, external disease and refractive surgery. I am also the associate residency program director.
Why did you want to go into that type of medicine?
I love the mix of clinic and surgery that ophthalmology provides. I get to form great, long-lasting relationships with my patients. Ophthalmology is also a very high-tech field, which appealed to me.
What do you find most interesting about that area?
I think the rapid advancements in the care we can provide patients is tremendous. It seems like there are new intraocular lenses, surgical implants and techniques coming out weekly that help patients achieve their desired vision goals. I am excited for what is coming down the pipeline as it will directly impact our patients’ quality of life.
How do you stay connected with fellow alums?
Many of my best friends are fellow alums. We have a group chat that we message in almost daily to check in on each other. We will set up video calls to catch up, as well. I try to make it back to Morgantown at least once a year for a game or two to meet up with friends. I also try to participate in alumni events held in Houston with the local WVU alumni chapter.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I would say that going to WVU was one of the best decisions I ever made, and I could not be prouder to be a Mountaineer. There is a special feeling when you see another alumnus sporting the Flying WV that is hard to describe. I credit my WVU experience greatly for helping me become the person I am today!