Teachers are the backbone of any academic institution and always play a significantrole in shaping the life and career of students. Teachers are the lights of our lifeas they sculpture us to bring the best out of usand inspire us to excel in professional life.
On the occasion of Teacher’s Day (September 5, 2020), I thankfully acknowledge all the hard work done by all my teachers to shape a career in ophthalmology. This tribute is dedicated to all the teachers who worked during the junior residency (ophthalmology) period at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India.
The Excellent Teachers with Passion for teaching and Training:
I consider myself very fortunate to be trained at one of the prestigious medical institutions of the country with a dedicated team of faculty members. I offer gratitude and sincerelythank all my teachers Padma Shri Prof. Amod Gupta, Padma Shri Prof. Jagat Ram, Late Dr. J. S. Saini, Prof. Mangat R. Dogra, Dr. Ashok Sharma, Dr. Arun K. Jain, Dr. Kanwar Mohan, Prof. S.S. Pandav, Prof. Usha Singh at PGIMER Chandigarh. Prof. Amod Gupta was the chief during that time and he inspired everyone who was trained by him and his excellent faculty members. The faculty members’ dedication to teaching, patient care, and research was commendable. As an ophthalmology resident of the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) Chandigarh during 1995-98, I was fortunate to be trained by the dedicated faculty members who had a passion for teaching and training. This write-up is a tribute to my teachers and recollection from the diary of a junior resident 25 years back. I thanks all my teachers for theirdedication to teaching and research without that it was almost impossible to achieve the current position.
Teachers as Multi-talented Leaders:
Faculty members and teachers at PGIMER, Chandigarh work as a clinician, surgeon, researcher, administrator, mentor, visionary, and well-wisher of all residents and team of advance eye center, PGIMER, Chandigarh. My firsthand experience of leadership of Prof. Amod Gupta, Prof. Jagat Ram was afew months before theAll India Ophthalmology Society Conference (AIOS) conference in the year 1996. Prof Amod Guptacalled a meeting of all faculty members and residents, set a goal, and asked them to work hard to make the conference a memorable one. The AIOS 1996 conference was very successful and gave all residents to attend the live surgery and lectures by the renowned ophthalmic faculty from India and overseas.
The saga of Discipline, Dedication, and Devotion
While pursuing the residency in ophthalmology at PGIMER, Chandigarh, the discipline, timing to attend the outpatient department (OPD), ward and operation theatre (OT),and a strict schedule of teaching such as grand round, journal club, staff clinical meet, was a regular feature. Residents learned discipline dedication and devotion not by words but by action and examples of all the faculty members. Most faculty members were astute clinicians, voracious readers, and they wereaware of the latest publications in ophthalmology and always asked thought-provoking questions duringthe grand roundsand this ensured that residents prepared their cases very well. I remember preparing my first case for grand round- ‘tuberculosis of lacrimal gland’, one month in advance by collecting (photocopying) all published articles, reading them, preparing slides(patient details, differential diagnosis, and management), organizing theclinical photos, images of investigations, etc. After completion of the grand round, I was encouraged by Dr. Ashok Sharma to write the manuscript and publish this case and this was my first international publication in the Journal of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.
During the grand round faculty members would ask a lot of questions related to clinical examination, differential diagnosis, and always emphasized on bedside(slit lamp side) teaching in ophthalmology. Theywould always insist of systemic examination of the case when necessary, by emphasizing that in the multidisciplinary academic institutes like PGIMER, all residents arefortunate that we are able to communicate our concerns and challenges to our multidisciplinary colleagues without any hesitation. During the grand round and case discussion, we were toldnot to blindly follow the recommendations coming from the western world without any reference to our own population, data, or experience. The insistence for publications, presentations during the conference state, national was enormous. Ifound that aspect difficult, but when I came out of PGIMERwith a dozen publications/presentationsand enormous confidence for delivering scientific lectures, which Ifeel is very important in today's era.
Teachers are Lifelong Students!
Due to excellentnetworking in academic circles, many renowned ophthalmologists visited PGIMER, Chandigarh at regular intervals. Many alumni of PGIMER, Chandigarh settled abroad visited theophthalmology departmentas guest speakers toshare their experience. Dr. Vinod Lakhanpal, Dr. V.S. Nirankari, Dr. Yadavinder P. Dangwere a few of them. One of the guest faculty (from the USA) visited theOphthalmology department, PGIMER in 1996. During the telephonic conversation, the visiting retina facultyproudlytold Prof. Gupta that he would be presenting some unusual retinal cases, fluorescein angiograms and most of these cases (compiled from the first world eye hospital) would be completely new for residentsin India. Prof. Gupta took this as a challenge and he asked residents to collect (and present)a series of unusual retina cases. He ensured that all cases were unusual one and residents documented these cases nicely (slit-lamp photo, fundusphotos, investigations), prepared them well and residents even rehearsed their presentations in front of faculty members. When visiting faculty arrived from the USA, Prof. Gupta requested the faculty to listento cases presented by residentsand help residents to reach on the diagnosis of these difficult cases. The guest speaker was very surprised by the knowledge and documentation was doneby the residents anda lot of time spent in discussing these cases. Thespeaker then tried to rush through his slides. Prof.Guptarequested him to take his time and deliver the lecture without being in a hurry. As head of the department of ophthalmology, Prof. Gupta successfully conveyed the message, to guest faculty, about the high academic standard of a premier institute in a developing country.
Teachers are always Proud of their Students!
After completing the ophthalmology residencyin December 1997, I joined the fellowship at Storm Eye Institute, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, the USA in June 1998. I visited India in the year 2000 and met Prof Amod Gupta, Prof Jagat Ram, Prof. MR Dogra, and other faculty members. Theyencouraged me to take a lecture to motivate residents. I was fortunate to visit my alma mater once again on March 18, 2013, during the Advance Eye Center, PGIMER Foundation day to deliver a keynote address(Figure 1). We were fortunate to invite Prof. Amod Gupta and Prof Jagat Ram during the Rajasthan Ophthalmological Society (ROS) Conferencesto deliver the prestigious ‘Prof Anila Khuteta Oration’. We have also invited Prof. M. R. Dogra at Kota to deliver ‘IMA World Sight Day Oration’ on the occasion of World Sight Day (October 12, 2014).
Figure 1. Prof. Amod Gupta Presenting Memento to Dr. Suresh K. Pandey
during the PGIMER AEC Foundation Day March 18, 2013.
Teachers are Mentors
Prof. Guptaand his entire team’s dedication to teaching and training in ophthalmology was unmatched. This dedication, vision, and determinationresulted in the creation of the Advance Eye Center. The message was very clear in advising residents when theyenter any particular career stream, just follow the heart and do what you are passionate about and follow your dreams, keep learning by remaining a life long student. They mentored several residents like me following the dictum- agood mentor is a coach, asking questions more often than giving answers. Mentors have animportantrole in guiding the residentsas they develop their own special attributes. The role is difficultand requires training, time, and mutual trust.
Teachers can become Turning Point in Career
So many teachers shaped not just my professional life but also helped me as a friend, philosopher, and guide. I acknowledge the contribution made by my mentors and teachers and highly appreciate them. I am highly grateful to Padma Shri Prof. Jagat Ram, who was my thesis guide during my ophthalmology residency training at PGIMER and who assisted me in getting a fellowship with Prof. David J. Apple in the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA. The opportunity to work under Prof. Apple’s mentor-ship provided me with a platform to explore world ophthalmology and meet some of the greatest inventors in the field of ophthalmology, including Sir Harold Ridley who invented the IOL, Dr. Charles D. Kelman who invented phacoemulsification, researchers, innovators, prolific surgeons and opinion makers from all over the world.
The Great Teachers Inspire
The clinical experience, research-oriented teaching bythe highly committed and yet friendly faculty members had made the 3 years of residency as the most glorious years of my professionallife to be cherished forever. All residents have an excellent opportunity to see very unusual clinical cases not only from Punjab and Haryana but also referred from adjoining state Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu& Kashmir.
All faculty members emphasized onproper history, meticulous clinical examination, proper documentation, connecting the missing link, thinking out of the box.Themessage was very clear- make a habit of good observation, document, document, document, and try to present and publish unusual cases resulting in a significant contribution to the literature.I was inspired by great teachers who laid the foundation of my professional career in Ophthalmology 25 years back. I have shared my professional journey and lessons learned in two recently published books- Secrets of Successful Doctors and A Hippocratic Odyssey: Lessons from a Doctor Couple on Life in Medicine, Challenges, and Doctorpreneurship (Figure 2 and 3).[3,4]
Figure 2. Dr. Suresh K Pandey presented the book ‘Secrets of Successful Doctors: A complete guide fulfilling Medical Career' to Prof. Jagat Ram. This book was published by Maple Press . Link
Figure 3. Cover page of our 400-page book- ‘A Hippocratic Odyssey: Lessons from a Doctor Couple on Life in Medicine, Challenges and Doctorpreneurship. This book will be published by Bloomsbury India. Link
On the occasion of teacher’s day, I thanks all my teachers from my core of heart for their significant efforts to lay the foundation of an ophthalmic career. I indeed feel proud to be a PGIMERAECalumni!
- Gupta V. Father of uveitis in India: Prof. Amod Gupta. Indian J Ophthalmol 2020;68:1730
- Sharma A, Pandey SK, Mohan K, Khandelwal N, Gupta A. Tuberculosis of the lacrimal gland: a case report.J Pediatr Ophthalmol Strabismus1998;35(4);237-9.
- Pandey Suresh K. Secrets of Successful Doctors: A Complete Guide to a Fulfilling Medical Career. Maple Press 2020
- Pandey Suresh K, Sharma Vidushi. A Hippocratic Odyssey: Lessons from a Doctor Couple on Life in Medicine, Challenges and Doctorpreneurship. Bloomsbury India 2020 .