I remember the winter of 2016 in Innsbruck, when I met Nickos Beckrakis and the other class of the European Leadership Program for the first module of the program. Back then I was a major doctor working as a cornea specialist with the Royal Medical Services-of Jordan. The three days of the module passed by but I never came out of them as I first stepped in.
I was filled with biased dreams and chaotic wonders on how to introduce certain corneal procedures to my workplace and country. It never occurred to me that the EuLDP would bear answers to lots of hidden questions and fears in my mind.
Stranded by the military hierarchy on one side and the worry of introducing complex surgical techniques untried before and unknown to my superiors put me under stress. I asked Nikos the Director of the program at one of the seminars, “what if a-lot of people around you are waiting to see you fail?” He answered “ then you will lose the glory of success for the fear from others. Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change”.
Those words echoed in my mind for days and nights. This module with all the leadership strategies and management skills it offered in different aspects of life not only in the field of ophthalmology kept the ball rolling in my field for a long time. That seminar just lit a dozen candles in front of me, alerted me to opportunities and created a new paradigm of solutions in front of my eyes.
I returned back to my country equipped with the spirit from (Invictus) with ways around the corner to bring about the change i wanted instead of waiting for circumstances.
In one whole year I could turn over the table as I wished…
Being a cornea surgeon my point of power was my surgical skills and I used this to introduce new surgical procedures to my workplace. First I introduced the surgeon cut lamellar corneal surgeries known as ALTK and DSAEk importing the equipment to Jordan and benefiting more than one patient from one single cornea decreasing the need for tissue with our limited resources. I brought everything from scratch and acted as the surgeon, the engineer and the nurse whenever we wanted to do such a procedure until I could teach the team around me how to operate the machinery. I also introduced a very advanced form of artificial corneal transplantation first the Boston keratoprosthesis and after that the complex Osteo-odonto-keratoprosthesis OOKP or tooth in the eye surgery. Thus giving hope to desperate patients with un-salvageable ocular surface.
The rewards in any medical field lies in the eyes and lips of the patients. One of those patients who underwent OOKP has been blind for 15 years. The other one for 30 years of dependence on others. It was the moment he opened his eyes to appreciate the world around is the summit of everything I could have wished for!
After being awarded the order of military merit by his majesty King Abdullah the second for my innovative contributions to ophthalmology in Jordan, just two years after the completion of the EuLDP, where my journey started. It was only then when I could find the true leader in myself that changed everything.
Nancy Al Raqqad, FRCS
Cornea and refractive surgery consultant
Royal medical services