Heroes of Orbis: Dr. Simon Holland

Longtime Orbis Volunteer Faculty member and Chair of Orbis Canada, Dr. Simon Holland, is the recipient of the prestigious Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada's 2018 Mentor of the Year Award, Region 1.

In July, we featured the heart-warming story of Anas Schichmouse, a Syrian refugee who was almost completely blind as a result of a genetic condition. After an American benefactor sponsored Anas to come to Canada, he ended up in the office of Vancouver-based eye surgeon, Dr. Simon Holland, one of world’s leading experts in cornea, cataract and refractive eye disorders..

After reviewing Anas's case, Dr. Holland determined that immediate surgery was required and didn't hesitate in agreeing to perform the procedure.

The story garnered national attention and was featured on news broadcasts across the country, including CBC's, The National

Recently, Dr. Holland was recognized and honoured with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada's 2018 Mentor of the Year Award, Region 1.

This award recognizes Fellows of the Royal College who have had a significant impact on the career development of students, residents or Fellows. Nominees must have shown themselves to be an excellent role model in demonstrating the qualities or competencies of Manager, Scholar and Professional.

As an Orbis Volunteer Faculty member and veteran of more than 100 Flying Eye Hospital programs in every country in which Orbis works, Dr. Holland has mentored, trained and inspired hundreds, if not thousands, of eye health professionals around the world. Currently, Dr. Holland leads residency rotations in rural Fort St. John, B.C. through the University of British Columbia's Northern Outreach Program.

Despite the many decades of training, mentorship and support he’s provided, the always modest and humble Dr. Holland says it baffles him whenever a young doctor comes to him and thanks him for his inspiration. “I don’t think I really did anything. I probably didn’t,” he laughs.

However, his many colleagues, residents and all those he has trained over the years would certainly disagree.

He is one of the kindest, most knowledgeable staff physicians I have ever known.

Dr. Colton Wendel

Ophthalmology Resident, University of British Columbia

Dr. Murad Alobthani, a current Fellow in the University of British Columbia's Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Services, says Dr. Holland isn’t sought out just for his vast expertise, but also for his calming presence and emotional support.

When a complication occurred while Dr. Alobthani was performing surgery, Dr. Holland helped him regain his focus and react appropriately. Afterward, Dr. Holland spent an hour sitting with him, reminding him that complications happen and reassuring him he had what it takes.

A lot of us don’t want to get involved, but that’s when people need the most support. I’ve been very fortunate in my own career to have great mentors, great opportunities and a lot of luck.

Dr. Simon Holland

We recognize and congratulate Dr. Simon Holland for being a true friend and ambassador of Orbis, and for winning the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada's 2018 Mentor of the Year Award, Region 1. We couldn't think of a more deserving recipient of this outstanding accolade!