Dr. Stephen M. Soll of ReFocus Eye Health: “I wish someone told me just how long it takes to become a doctor”

I wish someone told me just how long it takes to become a doctor. Second, you cannot just be a good doctor, you must be good in business as well, to be successful. Third, always try surround yourself with supportive, positive people. Fourth, you cannot please everyone all the time. Finally, I wish someone would […]

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I wish someone told me just how long it takes to become a doctor. Second, you cannot just be a good doctor, you must be good in business as well, to be successful. Third, always try surround yourself with supportive, positive people. Fourth, you cannot please everyone all the time. Finally, I wish someone would have told me that eventually I would start to lose my hair and go grey.


As part of my series about healthcare leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Stephen M. Soll.

Stephen M. Soll, MD is an Ophthalmologist specializing in Eye Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. He is from the Philadelphia area, went to school at Boston University, The Chicago Medical School, Brown University and Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital. He is Head of the Division of Ophthalmology at Cooper University Hospital and is in private practice at ReFocus Eye Health in the Philadelphia and the South Jersey area. He is married to Joyce. Together they have six children, Sydney, Harrison, Natalie, Laura, Joey and Lizzy. He enjoys family, traveling and just relaxing!


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! What is your “backstory”?

I grew up in a loving home in a suburb of Philadelphia as one of four children. My father, David B. Soll MD, was a prominent ophthalmologist. I chose to follow my father’s footsteps, and this led me to become a doctor and then specialize in ophthalmology. I later furthered my education in eye plastic and reconstructive surgery. I entered private practices and built one of the largest ophthalmology practices in the Philadelphia and South Jersey area. I also became the Chief of Ophthalmology at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, NJ where we train ophthalmology residents. It has been a rewarding career so far.

Can you share the interesting story that has happened to you since you started your career?

I had just left the hospital in my car, and I saw a woman on the ground unconscious on the sidewalk. Everyone was passing by her in their cars. Usually, I do not have the opportunity to save lives in my field of work. However, I was trained and had gone through medical school, so I knew what to do. I pulled over and I began CPR and she survived. I later was given an award by Camden County, New Jersey for this act. I like this story because it’s important that doctors are trained for any situation and then later decide on an area of focus. If I wasn’t trained and only knew about eyes, I wouldn’t have been able to save her.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Part of what I do is cosmetic surgery around the eyes. I once gave myself Botox… I realized quickly that performing a procedure on yourself should not be done– it was not the outcome I had anticipated. I learned from this that I will never do that again!

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?

Regarding my career, every patient I meet is a new project. I truly love what I do.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My father was the inspiration behind me following my dream of becoming an ophthalmologist. My parents supported me the entire way through. And now my wife, Joyce, encourages me.

Is there a particular book that made an impact on you? Can you share a story?

No books, however, a movie impacted me. It may sound corny, but it was Forrest Gump. The movie taught me it’s important to appreciate life while you have it. You never know what’s going to happen in the future; enjoy the present moment, which I do.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I have lectured nationally and internationally and have been published in multiple publications and books. I have used my skills to help people. I do a lot of trauma surgery on patients and see people through some of their most difficult moments. I take pride in reconstructing the area around the eyes. In some cases, I must remove the patient’s eye. Fortunately, we have new technology and implants that move and appear just like the human eye. When patients smile after going through a tough surgery and come out feeling better than before, it makes me feel good.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story about how that was relevant to you in your own life?

Again, this sounds corny, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is a proverb I live by. I think we should all take time to enjoy life. My work is my passion, but I believe time off helps a person refresh and come back stronger.

Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that will help people feel great?

I will give you 5 lifestyle tweaks:

Stock your home with cookies

Go on plenty of vacations

Make sure you have a supporting, loving spouse

Have children

Get a cute dog

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

I wish someone told me just how long it takes to become a doctor. Second, you cannot just be a good doctor, you must be good in business as well, to be successful. Third, always try surround yourself with supportive, positive people. Fourth, you cannot please everyone all the time. Finally, I wish someone would have told me that eventually I would start to lose my hair and go grey.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would like to start a movement that provides resources to people on how to keep healthy eyes and let them know what to do if there is a problem.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would love to grab a Deli sandwich with Larry David. I am often told I resemble him in my mannerisms and looks. He is a funny guy and someone I think I would be friends with.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

I do have an instagram account where I mostly post my dog, Molly. She is a border-collie mix. She keeps everything in perspective for me.

Thank you so much for these wonderful insights!

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