Young ophthalmologist Anete Kursīte: this field is highly specialised, but it offers plenty of opportunities
It would be overly poetic, and also slightly inaccurate, to say that spring is not only the time when flowers start to bud but also when medical students' relationships with their potential employers first start to appear. The majority of future physicians take the first steps towards their future speciality already in the last two years of their studies – they volunteer and participate in student interest groups, and choose specific topics and supervisors for their sixth-year research papers.
This is also true of young ophthalmologist and Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) PhD student Anete Kursīte (pictured) who finished her residency studies last year. We meet at her workplace at the Ophthalmology Clinic at Pauls Stradiņš Clinical University Hospital (PSCUH). The clinic is headed by RSU Professor Guna Laganovska who is the person who inspired Anete’s interest in eye health and who has been awarded with the Pauls Stradiņš Prize and other awards for her professional accomplishments.
Directly after finishing your residency programme you became a certified physician at the PSCUH Ophthalmology Clinic. What is your daily routine?
Although I work as a physician, researcher and teacher I spend my entire day at Stradiņš Hospital, because both the Ophthalmology Clinic and the RSU Department of Ophthalmology are located there. The day starts with seeing patients after which I perform any scheduled surgeries. Then I turn to my research and work with patients participating in the studies. Almost every month I work with RSU 5th year students taking either the compulsory or elective ophthalmology course. There is a great variation in my work making it very interesting.
Is this variety one of the reasons that made you to choose ophthalmology?
Yes. Although the eye is a small organ, and this is a highly specialised field, it offers a very broad range of opportunities – there are various types of surgeries and some diseases that require only medicines and monitoring, and there is also the separate sub-specialty of paediatric ophthalmology.
Prospective physicians take an ophthalmology course in the 5th year of their medical studies when they have already seen a lot. In my case the decision to study ophthalmology was timely and carefully considered. When the time came to write a research paper in my 6th year I had no doubts about approaching Professor Laganovska who is the supervisor of the RSU ophthalmology residency programme. I was already a part of the student ophthalmology interest group at that time. While I was writing my paper on the structural changes in the eyes of glaucoma patients who are undergoing cataract surgeries, I frequently visited the Ophthalmology Clinic and found that I really like it there.
Doing a residency is the time when prospective physicians test their skills in their chosen speciality. Interest and passion are good starting points, but it is far from enough. During the residency, and even before that, Dr. Kursīte showed herself to be an active and curious future ophthalmologist who is particularly interested in surgery. The young physician has also demonstrated her skills outside pharmaceutical and surgical treatment. The Corneal Tissue Centre has been operating in our clinic for several years now and for the past years the centre has been developed and improved to meet EU standards. Dr. Kursīte has greatly contributed to this ambitious project during her residency studies.
Director of the PSCUH Ophthalmology Clinic, Supervisor of the RSU Ophthalmology Residency Programme, Professor Guna Laganovska
There is also an ophthalmology residency programme at the University of Latvia. Why did you choose the RSU residency programme?
The place and people were the most essential aspects to me. PSCUH is the main base for RSU resident ophthalmologists and nothing matches this hospital in this discipline. Besides, our clinic is a training centre certified by the European Board of Ophthalmology. The residents have access to various technologies we use an eye surgery simulator for training, for example.
PSCUH is a place where different kinds of patients end up and where a broad range of different surgeries are performed. Skilled specialists who are passionate about medicine and research work in the clinic. Research work is essential as a residency is a period to actively improve professional skills and gain knowledge. Research brings with it a different perspective on the practical side of medicine.
Corneal transplantations, cataracts, glaucoma, palpebral and orbital surgeries are performed in the clinic. Which of these are you specialised in?
I have only been working as a certified specialist in this clinic for short time. I could say that my journey has only just started. I'm currently studying frontal eye surgeries – cataract surgeries and corneal transplantations.
Our clinic offers a wide range of surgical and pharmaceutical treatments with the surgical treatment of retinal pathologies among our priorities. This treatment helps diabetes patients, those who have suffered severe eye injuries, or patients with retinal detachment. We also have a Corneal Tissue Centre for patients who need corneal transplants. Taken together our physicians cover all aspects of ophthalmology and they are well known in their field. It is important for every young physician to feel supported by their colleagues and to receive advice. I have always received this at the Ophthalmology Clinic.
Ophthalmologist Anete Kursīte
Pauls Stradiņš Clinical University Hospital
Doctor at the Department of Eye Microsurgery,
Lecturer at the RSU Department of Ophthalmology.
Graduated from the four-year ophthalmology residency programme in 2018.
PhD student of the RSU Medicine study programme.