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Resident Perspective: What’s Next for the Academy — Twit-Book?

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What brought you to this article — was it the title? An attention-grabbing link in an email? Something that caught your interest while surfing aao.org? While you’ve probably already decided if you are going to skim the rest of this article, I ask you to please continue…

We live in the Google age, where we are used to having everything we need available to us — right now. Some argue that we are no longer engaged in our surroundings, as we are able to check email and surf the Web with our smartphones at anytime. This is often perceived as a bad thing, but the Academy makes the proposal that this free access to information can actually strengthen the ophthalmology community.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Academy Board of Trustees retreat held at West Point. The tongue-in-cheek motto of West Point is “200 years of tradition unhampered by progress.” I am happy to report that the leaders of the Academy were not particularly inspired by this sentiment. The theme of the meeting was developing the “e-Academy” — basically, transforming your father’s Academy to a digital Academy.

What does this mean for you, the young ophthalmologist? Realistically, it means that the Academy can become your go-to site for all things ophthalmology. The Academy has already developed an incredible educational tool called the O.N.E.™ Network. Hopefully you’ve already had a chance to visit, perhaps using the MOC study kit to prepare for the OKAPs or boards. A number of videos are available for reviewing basic and learning advanced techniques. It’s a great site and, more importantly, a great start.

The Academy has its eye on the future. Topics discussed at the board meeting included possible involvement on Facebook as a way to connect members socially, use of Twitter (follow the Academy @aao_ophth) and increasing the professional networking resources on the Academy’s Web site.

The overall emphasis is to help the Academy connect with members in an efficient manner, such that members are able to connect back. Soon you may be able to add your comment on this article, rate it or post it as a link on your Facebook page, so that you can be a part of disseminating the Academy’s message.

How would you feel about a place to post the PowerPoint presentations that you diligently created so residents outside your program could benefit? I have no doubt every year a presentation is made to the incoming first-year residents about how to handle ophthalmology emergencies. Wouldn’t it be great to not have to re-invent the wheel? How about a place for ophthalmologists (at different stages in their career) to have a discussion about a challenging diagnosis or surprising surgical complication?

This year the program for the Academy’s national meeting is online. Not only is this environmentally friendly, but it allows for efficient searches through the program. It’s great to see that the Academy is embracing the digital age and working hard to engage its members, including us, young ophthalmologists. The Academy recognizes that we don’t have much time, but wants to help us the best it can — through its education and advocacy efforts. Hope you made it to the end, if not maybe I should try to condense my thoughts into a 140-character tweet on Twitter for next time:

“AAO goes digital, Web site shares all secrets of ophthalmology, available to members only.”

Hmm, that’s only 91 characters and pretty easy to write — maybe Twitter is the future. If so, the Academy will be ready to tweet.

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About the author: Shameema Sikder, MD, is a third-year resident at the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University.