Dr. Damon Welch, an Ophthalmologist with Eye Specialists of Mid Florida and a Polk County Medical Association member, believes strongly in being a role model for others. Working alongside his father, Dr. Daniel Welch, who is also a PCMA member, he learned firsthand the tremendous impact a role model can have on one’s life.
Every field needs role models to sustain growth and success, and the field of medicine is no exception. Dr. Welch’s father took this approach while he was in his formative years and still deciding the direction to choose for a career.
Dr. Welch and his parents moved to Winter Haven when he was two years old, so that his father could begin working in an ophthalmology practice. While Dr. Welch’s father grew in the profession, he focused on being young and was more interested in skateboarding, hunting, fishing, and goofing around with friends than he was in studying. But instead of pushing and steering him in the direction of medicine, Dr. Welch’s father modeled the life of physician.
Dr. Welch saw how much his father enjoyed his work, and he marveled at how rewarding it must be to help others with something as significant as improving their vision. The strategy worked, because he decided early on that like his father, he too wanted to become an ophthalmologist.
Dr. Welch’s grandparents were role models, also. While Dr. Welch was young they were in a business that focused on reading and listening to personal development and positive thinking information. Dr. Welch grew up hearing audio recordings of great speakers and thinkers, such as Earl Nightingale and Zig Ziglar.
“Looking back, even though I didn’t realize it at the time, I know being exposed to these positive and inspirational ideas had a profound impact on me,” says Dr. Welch. “I began to believe that I could do anything I set my mind to. So starting in about tenth grade, I decided I needed to do better in school if I was to become an ophthalmologist.”
His transformation was complete by the time he finished his undergraduate degree, having graduated at the top of his class from Rollins College. At the University Of Florida College Of Medicine, he finished in the top ten percent of a class of over 100, and was elected by his peers to be a part of the Medical Honor Society, called the AOA.
After completing his residency with the University of Florida, Dr. Welch joined his father at Eye Specialists of Mid Florida in 2009. His father started working there in 1980, with the same group of doctors who continue today. The operations began with a main office in Winter Haven and later a surgery center in 1992. The team opened a Sebring office in 2005 and has since grown to seven total offices.
While Dr. Welch’s transformation and educational accomplishments were especially rewarding, they paled in comparison to what he names his best accomplishment: meeting and marrying his beautiful wife, Christina. The two met while both were medical students in Gainesville.
After they received their Medical Doctor Degrees, Christina went on to serve four years as a Flight Surgeon in the Air Force, with a Search and Rescue Squadron. She also served two tours of duty in Iraq, caring for her assigned flight crew and wounded soldiers. Today, Christina is a veteran and has shifted her focus to taking care of the couple’s three-year-old daughter, Genevieve, and infant son, Levi. Like Dr. Welch, Christina also works alongside her father as a physician, part-time, at a health clinic in Haines City.
Dr. Welch and his family are very community-focused, which shows through his volunteer service caring for indigent patients in Polk County at We Care of Polk County and in Highlands County at Samaritan Touch.
“I am thankful to live and work in the community where I grew up and that I love,” Dr. Welch continues. “While I am busy with work during the week, I get to come home every night and spend time with my family. If I had the opportunity to “do it over”, I would not change anything. I am happy that I decided to become a medical doctor and an eye surgeon.”
story by JO LYNN DEAL
photo by PEZZIMENTI