Dr David Lane: From French Literature to Eye Surgery

Dr. David Lane
Dr. David Lane

Periodically, the school is fortunate enough to have alumni visit the school and make presentations to the student body of which they were once members. Today, the grade 12 class received that privilege when Dr. David Lane, Class of 1987, spoke to the group during a grade out meeting.

David was a student at SMU, as the school was affectionately called then, from 1983 until 1987 as a boarder from Saskatchewan. When I toured him through the refurbished School House today, he pointed to the Accounting Office on the top floor and said, “I lived right there in a room with nine other boys.”

Today, David is the Chief of Surgery at Ross Memorial Hospital in Lindsay, Ontario and a lecturer in the Medical Faculty at the University of Toronto. An ophthalmologist, he performs up to 40 eye surgeries a day. Members of the grad class were squeamish but fascinated as they watched a video he presented of a real-time cataract surgery he performed.

As a university counsellor, I was fascinated as well by the story of how he came to be an eye surgeon. When David graduated from SMUS, he returned to his home province to study at the University of Saskatchewan. He started out in microbiology, but soon decided to pursue a different passion. He switched his major to French, completed a BA, and spent a year on a Rotary Scholarship studying French literature and philosophy in Montpellier, France.

Armed with a BA and the few prerequisite science courses that he needed, he was accepted into medical school in Saskatoon. When a student today asked him if he found it challenging studying medicine without a science degree, he admitted that he was the only one in his class with a BA and that the memorization approach to learning that most of his courses required was a bit of a challenge at first. But it didn’t take him long to switch gears and he ended up graduating as the top ophthalmology resident from the University of Toronto in 2000.

David’s success and the pathway he traveled in attaining that success show students that there are many different ways to attain educational and career goals. Medicine doesn’t always require studying pure sciences as an undergraduate. David followed his passion by studying French, was able to travel and continue his education in Europe, and still managed to become an MD with a lucrative and challenging specialty.

David ended his presentation by showing the students pictures of his boat and the sailing adventures his wife and children enjoy on the many lakes in Ontario every summer. He encouraged students to follow their dreams and always be grateful for the many advantages and privileges they enjoy.


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