Celebrating International Women's Day 2018 - interview with A/Prof Anne Brooks

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In celebration of International Women’s Day, we spoke with eight times Trainer of Excellence award recipient Associate Professor Anne Brooks to find out what drove her success in ophthalmology and teaching. A/Prof Brooks is Head of Clinic 3S, Clinical Lead AOS and an ophthalmologist to the Glaucoma Unit and Surgical Ophthalmology Service at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. A/Prof Brooks also runs a busy private practice in East Melbourne specialising in Glaucoma and Cataract.

What made you interested in becoming an ophthalmologist? 
I became interested in becoming an ophthalmologist as it is a specialty which has both microsurgery and general medical treatment of eye diseases. That is fairly unusual in medical specialities, which are normally either focussed on medical treatment or surgery. With ophthalmology you are with the patient for their whole journey, hopefully right through to halting vision loss or even returning lost vision, which is very rewarding.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your career? 
I am very much involved in teaching ophthalmology, and I teach registrars in training, medical students, overseas trained medical graduates and GPs. I think this is the most rewarding aspect of my career as it allows me to help shape the next generation of ophthalmologists and eye care professionals.

What is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome to get where you are today? 
The biggest challenge is work-life balance – I have a husband and two daughters. Ophthalmologists, as with all medical specialists, have heavy workloads, including clinics, surgeries and teaching. We also have to keep up to date with all the latest developments and keep our skills and knowledge current. Achieving the right balance of work, rest and family life is difficult, but essential. 

What do you know now that you wish you had known starting out? 
I wish that, when I started out, I had known that one can’t do everything.

What do you think needs to happen in order to press for progress in ophthalmology today? 
To press for progress in ophthalmology today, I believe that ophthalmology needs a substantially greater public profile. Not enough people understand what ophthalmology is or what we do. If people knew more about ophthalmologists and eye health care, the more information they will have about eye diseases and the better they will understand what symptoms to look out for and when they need to see an ophthalmologist.