We all struggle to find direction in our lives. It can come from a magazine, a newspaper (do people still read those?), or your favourite television show. It can come from a profound experience you had in your life that leaves a mark so deep that it pivots you from your predetermined path. For Dr. Clara Chan, this pivotal moment came from the person she admired and lived with for a great portion of her life. He would come in every day and sit across her at the dinner table and tell her endless stories of the miracles he performed on his patients. Every night, she would hear the passion in his voice and see the sparkle in his eye whenever he helped a patient out. She was captivated by how this man created such a difference in these strangers lives that she wanted to follow the same path as him. Little did this man know that all of his stories from the office would inspire his little girl to plan a roadmap on how to become an outstanding ophthalmologist and a GirlBoss in TheSix
If you think becoming an ophthalmologist is easy, think again. The average person spends 12-16 years in school, longer if they want to pursue post-secondary education. If you want to pursue a degree in the medical field, add a minimum of 4 more years on top of that to get your MD! It doesn’t stop there, you have a few years to go through being a resident and figuring out what you want to specialize in and then identify your sub-specialty, and finally doing your fellowship year before you are officially done. By the time you have finished everything, you are well into your early 30’s!
Being a problem solver and having a tactical mindset for approaching any complicated issue, helped Clara further solidify that her true calling was to be an ophthalmologist. In her fellowship year, she found that she could add even more value specializing in cornea and refractive surgery.
By this time, she has been in school and training for over 26 years!
I cannot even imagine spending that much of my life in school, but Clara knew what was required in order to achieve her dream and did it!
When we think of an ophthalmologist, we traditionally think of cosmetic refractive surgery for the eyes – aka Lasik. If you want to get rid of the glass barrier between you and the world, you make an appointment with an ophthalmologist. But did you know that Lasik is a small sliver of the work they do on a daily basis?
For Clara, she has helped patients with a wide variety of complicated eye conditions such as glaucoma, astigmatism, cornea dystrophy, and cataracts. She has even helped a patient that was losing sight from his second eye (he lost vision from his first eyes due to complications from Stevens-Johnson syndrome). I won’t go into all of the details but after countless hours of surgery with various surgeons including Dr. Clara Chan, they helped him restore a good portion of his sight. But equally important, they restored his confidence.
Think about it – one day you wake up find out that your vision is getting distorted. Many of the things you could do before are now not possible and you have to adjust your lifestyle because of your deteriorating eye sight. You go from being fearlessly independent to limited in function because of the impairment, and slowly you find yourself just existing. Ophthalmologists like Dr. Chan know the mental, emotional and psychological affects their patients experience when they start losing their sight.
Being an ophthalmologist is more than a calling for Dr. Clara Chan, it’s a way for her to help people reclaim their confidence and independence.
Wow, that is amazing they were able to restore some of his vision! Wonderful post!
Wow! She is amazing! And when you break down her experience, it is crazy to think overall she’s been going to school for 26 years!
26 years of education? Wow kudos to her. Sounds crazy, but look at the end story though? All worth it and for a great calling.
I admire those who have done medical studies; it’s more than just a vocation.
What an amazing story from a powerful woman, thanks for sharing 🙂
With love and sunshine,
Patricia & Miguel
Thank you for stopping by and reading her inspirational story and journey Patricia & Miguel. Dr Chan is an amazing women!
This is such an amazing and inspiring read dear. Thanks for sharing!
Jessica | notjessfashion.com
26 years?! That’s amazing! Great post ♥️
She is an incredibly smart and inspirational woman Jessica. I don’t know how to she has the time to also mentor while juggling a successful career and volunteering almost everyday at The Eye Bank of Canada! We need more #GirlBoss like her!
I had no idea that there was so much education involved for a career like this. Thanks for sharing her amazing story!