By Ann Boyd

Voices: Regina Sun

In this regular feature at The Well, we hear the stories of women seeking to follow Christ in the university and professional worlds.

A Voice at The Well: Regina Sun

Current position: Ophthalmologist in Houston, Texas

Where did you do your schooling? I completed my undergrad studies and my medical training at Northwestern University. I did a fellowship on cornea and external eye disease at the University of Minnesota.

What specific research, study, or work are you involved in?

I’m part of a private group practice with five other ophthalmologists and ten optometrists. I’ve been working there for four years.

How did you come to study this?

When I was doing rotations in medical school, I thought I would be pediatrician. I really like children, but I discovered that I don’t like being their doctor. Ophthalmology turned out to be a good fit for me. I like having relationships with patients, and I like doing surgery. Ophthalmology is a good blend of those two.

What gives you the most pleasure in your current work?

I really love surgery days. I enjoy working with my hands and I feel like God has gifted me in that way. It feels great to do something like cataract surgery — there are instantaneous results, the cataract is gone, and it really improves the quality of a person’s life. When the surgery is finished, I feel like I’ve really accomplished something.

What gives you the most challenge in your work?

This is probably the constant patient interaction. On a typical day, I may meet with forty different patients. It’s a struggle to quickly diagnose their problems and also communicate that you care, that you’re not just there to make money. A lot depends on first impressions. Sometimes it’s tricky if the patient doesn’t want to listen, or isn’t very compliant with medications. I’m always asking myself, “What’s the best way I can care for this person?” I want everyone to like me, and it’s a challenge to not take negative experiences personally.

How does your faith connect with your work?

In my everyday work, God teaches me a lot about my own personality, helping me to give selflessly and be more patient, showing God’s love to others. I’m often reminded that he can heal diseases, whether it’s through skills he has given me or other ways. I really feel that God led me through small interventions into ophthalmology, especially since I was originally planning to go into a different specialty.

I’ve also really enjoyed participating in medical mission trips. Last year, I went to Nicaragua with a group of ophthalmologists. We did cataract surgery, vision screening, and matched people with donated glasses. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in developing countries, and it is a really easy fix—you just take out the cataract and immediately it is better. There are so many Bible verses about Jesus healing the blind, and so it’s a great way to lead into talking about the gospel too.

What would you like others to know about your family life or background?

My parents became Christians when I was in junior high and we all started going to church together. They are super-supportive, and my mom is a big prayer warrior.

Before I met my husband, I felt like it was hard to find the right person to marry. I think some Christian men had the wrong impression of me. Since I was pursuing a higher degree, I was labeled as too career-oriented instead of family-oriented. They might think that a woman on a career track might not want to have kids. I remember talking to my mom about this. She asked me to write a list of all the characteristics I hoped for in a husband. These included a goofy sense of humor, business-minded, love of God, makes me giddy when I see him, strong family values — the list was quite long! She prayed over that for a long time.

I actually knew of Eric when I was in high school, but we didn’t become friends until I went to medical school. We hung out as friends for years and couldn’t even imagine dating one another. Eric told me later that he had signed up on Match.com and my name appeared as his number one match and he was like, “Dang it! I already know her!”

When Eric and I finally began dating at the end of my residency, my mom took the list out again and showed it to me. He had all the characteristics that mattered most to me. We dated for about three years (part of that long-distance, while I was in Minneapolis for my fellowship) before we got married.

You and Eric just had a baby. Tell us about that.

Motherhood has been amazing. I had some challenges during the pregnancy, and I’m so grateful for a healthy baby. It was a good reminder that God is in control and I’m not.

My maternity leave was 12 weeks long, and now I’m back at work full-time. Evan is in daycare during the day. My husband and I talked about nanny versus daycare. We felt like daycare was a good option for Evan to socialize, get different experiences, and to be around other children. Our parents were very willing to help out with childcare, but we decided not to take that option because both our parents are quite active — working part-time, taking classes, or volunteering at church. I didn’t want them to feel tied down to taking care of him. I think once we have more of a routine, the grandparents are more than welcome to watch him once in awhile. So far, Evan has adapted well to daycare and is napping and eating well. It is not without guilt that I drop him off and go to work, but right now this seems like a good fit for our family.

What plans do you have in place to manage your transition back into work?

Thankfully my work hours are pretty regular so that makes for easier planning. We are also blessed to have both sets of grandparents in Houston to be our backup. It also helps me to have a task list so I can try to accomplish some things at work while I wait for patients. I do things like pay bills, make phone calls, and I also try to go to the grocery store on my lunch breaks. My husband and I also had a discussion about how we could better divvy up the housework and caring for the dogs at home. Having a maid service every two weeks has provided so much sanity! I’d like to also be able to spend more time in quiet times and reading, but haven’t quite figured out how to do that every day or even once a week!

What would you like to be doing ten years from now?

Pretty much what I’m doing now! I would still love to be working. I’d love to take regular trips for missions, perhaps to a community that I have a relationship with where I can go every year. I’d love to have figured out how to be a mom and balance a career by that time!

What is the latest book you’ve read for pleasure or outside of your field of study?

During my pregnancy, I read Praying Through Your Pregnancy, which I thought was phenomenal. For every week of your pregnancy, it went over the development of the baby and then expanded upon it spiritually to help you pray for your child. So, when you pray for their physical heart, you also pray for their heart for people and for compassion. It was my favorite book to read in my pregnancy.

About the Interviewer

Ann has worked for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship since 1997, exploring her interests and gifts in music, teaching, and spiritual formation. She received her bachelor’s in music education from Northwestern University in 1997 and keeps on singing, even if it is just for joy at home. Ann spends free moments working on knitting projects, making homemade ice cream, and going on tandem-bike dates with her husband, Jon. Together, they homeschool their two daughters and write up as much as they can at their blog. Ann is the interim editor of The Well.

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