School of Medicine, VA ophthalmologist honored at White House

President Barack Obama meets with Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal finalists and winners in the East Room of the White House. Washington University ophthalmologist David E. Vollman, MD (fourth from left in the back row), was among the honorees. (Credit: Pete Souza/official white house photo)

David E. Vollman, MD, was one of 31 finalists for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal recently honored in a White House ceremony praising the country’s civil servants.

Vollman, an instructor in ophthalmology and visual sciences, treats patients at Washington University School of Medicine and at the John Cochran Veterans Affairs Medical Center in St. Louis. The specific medal for which he was a finalist is the Call to Service Medal, which “recognizes a federal employee whose professional achievements reflect the positive impact that a new generation brings to public service.” Each year, that award recognizes a federal employee under age 35 with less than five years of federal service.

Vollman was chosen as a 2013 finalist for implementing a pilot project tracking the results of cataract treatment. With a combined post-graduate degree in medicine and business administration, he worked with other clinicians and with software developers to build a tool for collecting data. He then used that tool to determine that complication rates for cataract surgery are low in the VA health-care system and comparable to rates seen in the private sector.

With the pilot project on cataracts complete, Vollman has been selected for a lead role in a follow-up project now underway to collect and study similar data from across the Veterans Health Administration.

Following the White House ceremony, Vollman said, “It was an amazing honor to be recognized by President Obama in the White House for my work providing quality eye care to our veterans. I will always remember shaking the president’s hand and having him thank me for my service to our country.”

Vollman received his medical and business degrees from The Ohio State University in 2006. His clinical and research interests include comprehensive eye care, cataract surgery, refractive cataract surgery, health-care outcomes, cost-effective delivery of health care and quality improvement. He has authored numerous peer-reviewed articles on those subjects.

The ceremony to honor the finalists was Oct. 23.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked sixth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.