Dr. Tom Harbin is an experienced glaucomatologist, author and speaker. He received his BA from Vanderbilt University and MD from Cornell University Medical College in 1970. He served his residency at Johns Hopkins’ Wilmer Institute followed by a glaucoma fellowship at Washington University. He joined Eye Consultants of Atlanta in 1975 and retired after 42 years. He entered the Georgia State Executive MBA program in 1989 and received his MBA in 1991. He served on the clinical faculty at Emory for 20 years and currently holds the title of Emeritus Clinical Professor.
He published Waking Up Blind: Lawsuits over Eye Surgery in 2009 to wide acclaim, a book that is used to teach medical ethics in many ophthalmology residency programs. He later published The Business Side of Medicine: What Medical Schools Don’t Teach You (2012) and The Business Side of Veterinary Medicine: What Veterinary Schools Don’t Teach You (2017) co-authored with M. Duffy Jones, DVM. He published Practical Ethics in Ophthalmologist in 2020.
Lectureships include delivering the keynote address at the Henry Ford Health System’s annual meeting of the Department of Ophthalmology and the Susruta Lecture at the Wilmer Residents Annual Meeting. He has served as President of the Georgia Society of Ophthalmology and Trustee at Large of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. He chaired the board of Piedmont Hospital and Piedmont Healthcare System in Atlanta and served on the Academy’s Senior Ophthalmologist Committee until 2022.
Dr. Harbin lives in Atlanta with his wife Ellen. They have two children and five grandchildren.
Dr. Harbin: Personal Journey
I practiced as a glaucoma specialist at Eye Consultants of Atlanta for 42 years. I treated many patients with glaucoma but also cataracts and other eye diseases.
MD and MBA
After practicing for about 15 years and experiencing the frustrations from the total lack of business training afforded to medical trainees, I entered the Executive MBA program of Georgia State University and received my MBA in 1991. During the two years of this program, I frequently marveled at how the course material had direct and helpful advice for the business aspects of medical practice. My MBA has helped me understand the bigger picture of medical practice, how to engineer a practice for success and how the business world works.
I wroteThe Business Side of Medicine: What Medical Schools Don’t Teach You to do my part to remedy the lack of business training in medical education. This book summarizes all the pertinent courses of my two years and adds lessons learned from practicing, running a big group and chairing a hospital system. It is most helpful for residents or fellows as they begin looking for the right practice and then begin the job of success in medicine.
Medical Ethics Author and Speaker
As I was writing The Business Side of Medicine, I began my other book, Waking Up Blind: Lawsuits over Eye Surgery. This book, a true story, documents the failure of a major academic medical center to rein in its Ophthalmology Department’s Chairman as he operated on eyes with no disease, blinding some from neglect of post-operative conditions, and then lying to a patient when he performed surgery on the wrong eye. This book is given to residents in many training programs as their introduction to ethics and has spawned a number of speaking engagements.
After years of speaking about the ethical lessons from Waking Up Blind, I wrote Practical Ethics in Ophthalmology to expand from that book and discuss medical ethics more comprehensively. While the specific examples from this latest book relate to ophthalmology, the general principles apply across all medicine.
To relax, I love to be with family, travel and be outdoors, bird watching, fishing, and finding “critters.” My wife Ellen and I have a daughter and a son who have married great people. They have produced five wonderful grandchildren.
I look forward to meeting you.