JASON S. SLAKTER, MD
The month of September has a special significance for most of us, based upon old traditions and more recent events. It marks a return to work for those who have enjoyed a brief period of vacation and a return to school for children and college students alike. It is a time for celebration of important holidays for some and the hopeful celebration of coming successes for others.
More recently, September has also become a sad reminder of the changes that we face in our world since the terrible events of September 11, 2001.
This year, September will be the month in which we hold the first Retina Congress, representing a combined meeting of the Macula Society, the Retina Society, and the American Society of Retina Specialists. It is an event at which more than a thousand of us in the retina community will gather together to share new scientific achievements, discuss new approaches to medical and surgical diseases, renew old friendships, and make new acquaintances. It is always a rewarding experience to see so many of our retinal colleagues get together in a collegial atmosphere, despite their differences in style of practice (small vs group practice, private vs academic) or background (small town vs large city, United States vs rest of the world). What brings us together is a shared purpose; that is, to explore new approaches and new methods of improving the quality of care we deliver to our patients.
September 2009 also marks a time when the US Congress gets together to deliberate fundamental changes in the healthcare system of our country. Unfortunately, based on what we have seen to date, the gathering of our legislators is likely to be anything but collegial. It is nothing short of disheartening to see that our lawmakers are more focused on making self-serving statements and pushing party agendas than on attempting to come together to find real solutions for the crisis that we face in our medical system. I marvel at the fact that, in spite of the “sacred trust” placed in our elected officials to represent our interests on critical matters such as this, their so-called intellectual debates often devolve into petty squabbles and bitter arguments over partisan issues and personal attacks.
As we each celebrate and/or honor the meaning of September, may the thoughts and deeds in our personal lives, as well as at the upcoming Retina Congress Meeting, set an example for our leaders, as well as our fellow citizens, in dealing with all of the important issues that face us today.