Darlington School: Darlington Connects: Tom Harbin (‘63)
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Darlington Connects: Tom Harbin (‘63)

Julie Lucas | March 2, 2021 | 336 views

We're excited to connect with our alumni through our Darlington Connects series. Today we hear from Tom Harbin (‘63), a doctor and author who is willing to share his experiences with our Darlington Community. 

Tom Harbin enrolled at Darlington as a day student from Rome, Ga., in sixth grade and graduated from the school in 1963. He is one of five brothers who attended Darlington: Henry (‘64), Bob (‘67), Bill (‘67) and Frank (‘73) -- all of whom are also doctors. 

Tom played several sports throughout the years, but wrestling was his passion -- a sport in which he participated through his senior year. He was class president for four years in a row, but will tell you that he’s not sure how he received the nomination as that there wasn’t a campaign, nor specific duties. Tom was also the editor of The Jabberwok student yearbook, which he loved. 

He will also tell you that he did reasonably well in school, granted “reasonably well” is an understatement: his co-valedictorian distinction, that he shared with Jim Bethel (‘63), proves that he performed extremely well in the classroom. 

“Many even say that the Class of ‘63 is the smartest class that Darlington has ever had with the largest number of National Merit Finalists in the history of the school with eleven!” he exclaimed, adding that the Class of 1963 is a very close-knit class and they still get together often.

After graduating from Darlington, Tom went on to receive his B.A. from Vanderbilt University and his M.D. from Cornell University Medical School. After Cornell, he served his residency at Johns Hopkins’ Wilmer Institute, followed by a glaucoma fellowship at Washington University. 

Tom went on to practice ophthalmology in Atlanta and joined as the fifth member of an ophthalmology group, Eye Consultants of Atlanta, that now has 30 doctors. For over 40 years, he served patients with glaucoma and other eye diseases. What he loved most about practicing was getting to know his patients. Due to the nature of glaucoma, he saw his patients often and many became friends over the years. He also loved being able to help many of his patients experience instant results with their vision. 

This is just one interesting part of Tom’s career. About 15 years into practicing medicine, Tom decided to return to school to pursue his M.B.A. from the Executive M.B.A. Program at Georgia State University. He did this on nights and weekends, all the while still serving his patients. He wanted to be able to learn more about the business side of the medical field and, in turn, apply even more business acumen to his own practice … and Tom did just that. 

Throughout his M.B.A. program, he was also an avid writer, and he realized how much he enjoyed it. It brought back memories of his favorite English teacher at Darlington, Louie Crew. He always enjoyed writing in Mr. Crew’s class, and those impressionable moments combined with his M.B.A. work led to multiple published products. In all his spare time, Tom wrote “The Business Side of Medicine: What Medical Schools Don’t Teach You” in order to share everything he learned with others in his field. He also went on to write three more books. His latest book, “Practical Ethics in Ophthalmology,” was just recently published. 

Tom has had a remarkable career and one he is willing to share with our Darlington Community. His advice to those looking for their careers is to figure out what you want and love to do and go do it. 

“You will be a success if you go for it and do it well,” he said. He also wants everyone to know that you can always switch careers and go back to school. He has proven this with his own career expansion. 

As for those interested in writing a book, he says just sit down and start writing. 

“Don’t confine yourself to wishing you could do it, but get started and know you are going to need help along the way,” he said. “Also, know that you're not finished when the book is complete. You will then need to promote it and get the word out about it.”

Tom lives in Atlanta with his wife, Ellen, who he actually met through another Darlington connection. They have two children and five grandchildren. 

Tom is happy to connect with anyone in our Darlington Community who is interested in medicine, going back to school, or becoming an author. To connect with Tom, please email connect@darlingtonschool.org.

Also, if you are interested in learning more about Tom’s books, you can read about him on his webpage at www.tomharbin.com or on Darlington’s Alumni Goodreads Page

Are you a member of Darlington Community (or do you know one) with an interesting career or community involvement? We'd love to spotlight you in a future blog! Please email connect@darlingtonschool.org if you are interested in being featured.