The Art of The Dance: Dr. Ming Wang Mastering the Art and Health Connection

Ming Wang is a name most recognize easily. For years we have seen his commercials and revered him as not only the leader in ophthalmology, but as the “dancing doctor”. We’ve watched his commercials with wonder as Dr. Wang danced right into our living rooms. Even from our television screens we have felt a connection with Dr. Wang and entrusted him all the more for giving us an occasional glimpse into an artistic side of him that was obviously as skilled as his ability to fix people’s eye conditions. Dr. Wang’s dance gave us reason to believe there was more to him than meets the eye.

If you are a Middle Tennessean, then you know Ming Wang’s name to be synonymous with laser eye surgery. But most have no idea how he came to be a leader in his field and his enormous impact on the international medical community. There is a reason we feel so much confidence in Dr. Wang. Earning his medical degrees from Harvard and MIT (MD, magna cum laude), Dr. Ming Wang is one of the few laser eye surgeons in the world today who holds a doctorate degree in laser physics. He has performed over 55,000 procedures, 4,000 of which were on other physicians. He has published 9 textbooks and scientific papers including one in the world-renowned journal “Nature”. Dr. Wang holds several U.S. patents and performed the world’s first laser artificial cornea implantation. He is currently the only surgeon in the state who performs 3D Laser Cataract Surgery (60+) He has published 9 textbooks and many scientific papers including one in the world-renowned journal “Nature”. Dr. Wang holds several U.S. patents and performed the world’s first laser artificial cornea implantation.

Like many people who have realized great accomplishment, Dr. Ming Wang came from humble beginnings. He was born in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province of the People’s Republic of China in 1960. As a young boy about the age of 13, he was forced to make decisions for his future, a difficult task for someone so young. But the Cultural Revolution racked China during that time and forced over 20 million people to a lifetime sentence of hard labor. Chinese leader, Mao Zedong‘s efforts to rid China of remnants of capitalism led him to divide families and breach them of education. There were only a few routes around this impending sentence, one of which was the arts. While Ming had become a talented musician, a skill he pursued to try and avoid janitorial work, it was not the answer to his freedom. Even though he practiced playing the Erhu (an instrument akin to the violin) 15 hours a day, ultimately the Chinese government decided against recruiting musicians from the city of Hangzhou that year. He then joined a group called the “lost generation”, Chinese youth who were in despair because of their grim futures. Along with a pal, he wrote music and collaborated on an opera. Not willing to give up on his hopes, Dr. Wang sought the opportunity to join the Communist Dance Troupe, a dance group that opened doors for gaining an education. Advice from his father that education was the key to a successful future, never fell on deaf ears for Ming Wang. Although it required much hard work, both physically and mentally, training with the dance troupe changed Ming’s life and opened doors for his educational opportunities.

As it turned out, the study and art of dance was not just a way out, but in many ways, it taught Dr. Wang the core skills needed to become a great physician and partner to healing and restoration to many. Dr. Wang’s most rewarding lesson from ballroom dance is not only in technical agility, but also in the ability to connect with his partner and even anticipate his partner’s natural response and rhythm. As a physician, Dr. Wang still adheres to “the dance”. After performing thousands of procedures, Dr. Wang is noted for connecting with his patients, even praying over each patient for which he is going to perform surgery.

Dr. Ming Wang’s accomplishment in eye sight restoration is extensive and yet he is still opening new doors to helping countless people gain vision they never had or thought they never would obtain. Recently, Dr. Wang performed surgery on a 47-year-old healthcare executive who suffered from poor vision all his life. A high degree of nearsightedness, coupled with an astigmatism distorted his vision. Without any correction, his condition was worse than being legally blind. With this procedure, Dr. Wang literally made yet another distinction in his field, being the first physician to perform this first of its kind, surgery. The SMILE (small-incision lenticular extraction) procedure has nothing at all to do with teeth. It is a major advancement in laser correction since the last 25 years and the advent of LASIK. SMILE corrects astigmatism and has three distinct advantages: 1) smaller incisions, 2) less dry eyes, and 3) less postoperative complications. The Food and Drug Administration approved the astigmatism correction using SMILE and not surprisingly, Dr. Ming Wang is the first to perform it. Dr. Wang’s care for people does not end in the surgery room. He founded the Eyeball Concept, a foundation that donates its services to those needing eyecare.

Without great tenacity to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, Dr. Ming Wang undoubtedly would not have emerged the renowned physician that he is today. Even if it meant he had to master an entirely new skill to gain his education in the field that has allowed him to be a conduit for healing for thousands of people, he was willing to apply focus and ambition to accomplish it. While it may take unorthodox routes to arrive at our destinies, we improve the world when we commit to reaching them despite the difficulties along the journey. Like Dr. Wang, most times, we eventually realize what we learned was only the fuel for what makes us great. In Dr. Ming Wang’s case, from his humble beginnings until this day, the dance was really all about the art of connection. His care and ability to align with people is a waltz with an impact that is easily seen in the faces of his happy patients and felt just upon meeting him. Even while surrounded by an immaculate office with state of the art equipment, what stands out, is Dr. Ming Wang’s heart for healing and God- given ability to truly understand human connection makes him one of the world’s most skilled and talented physicians.

Written by Nicole L. Wade

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