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First-Time Attendee’s Guide to the Annual Meeting
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The meeting can be tough to navigate as a seasoned pro, let alone as a novice. If this year’s Joint Meeting will be your first Annual Meeting, then consider this article your must-have guide! We’ll tell you the most essential events and sessions to attend, and share six tips for a great meeting from your colleagues.

First and foremost, the YO Program is a staple for any young ophthalmologist. This year, the program takes place on Sunday, Oct. 17, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at McCormick Place, Room S101. The program will cover:

  • Contracts, buy-ins and negotiating;
  • Work/life balance;
  • Advocacy; and
  • Panel discussion on different types of practices.

Program Panel
The panel discussion is a newer component in the program, but especially helpful for ophthalmologists just beginning their career.

“The panel is dynamic and energizing, with experienced ophthalmologists sharing their lessons and mistakes for young ophthalmologists to learn from,” says panel moderator William Lloyd, MD. “Plus, they all have great senses of humor and are empathetic to the young ophthalmologists just starting out.”

“I never fail to be impressed by the candor of the panelists,” says Dr. Lloyd. “Whether the topic is relocation or predatory contracts, the sessions are always ‘no holds barred.’ Once the attendees start asking questions, that’s when the real fun starts as the questions become more and more pointed.”

Based on this give and take, no panel session is ever the same from year to year. This year’s panel consists of ophthalmologists from three different types of practice: academics, private practice and hospital-based care. Participants were chosen because of their reputation in their specialty and ability to consolidate information quickly and clearly.

“No question is off limits,” says Dr. Lloyd. “The attendees gain real-world information about practice situations from their colleagues who have been there. I find that those who attend learn a lot and usually don’t want the session to end.”

Key Courses for First-Timers
In addition to the YO Program, there are also a number of courses geared especially for residents. They include:

  • Welcome to the Real World: Reality 101 for Residents and Fellows (SPE41)
  • Keys to Successful Publication in the Peer Review Literature (239)
  • Retinal OCT Interpretation 101 (461)
  • Review of Clinical Optics (185)
  • Curbside Consultation in Neuro-Ophthalmology (565)
  • The On-Call Doctor's Survival Guide to Orbital and Oculoplastic Trauma (606)
  • Learning Phaco Chop: Pearls and Pitfalls (429)
  • Conquering Capsule Complications: A Video Primer (164)
  • Clinical Decisions in the Management of Complications of Cataract and IOL Surgery (357)
  • Angle-Closure and Angle-Closure Glaucoma: All You Wanted to Know, but Were Too Afraid to Ask (170)
  • What's New and Important in Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus for 2010 (567)

Additionally, there are a number of Breakfasts with the Experts that would benefit any first-time attendee. They include:

  • Fellowship Match: Landing Your Top Choice on Sun. Oct 17;
  • Tips for Examining Children’s Eyes for the General Ophthalmologist on Tue. Oct. 19; and
  • International Opportunities for Young Ophthalmologists, also on Tue. Oct. 19.

All Breakfasts with the Experts take place in McCormick Place South Hall A from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Although the breakfasts and courses cost extra, members-in-training enjoy a 50 percent discount, bringing the cost of most breakfasts and courses into a very reasonable price range. Fees for the breakfasts include a continental breakfast.

Other “Must-Dos”
In addition to the YO Program and YO-specific courses and breakfasts, there are a few other great events and programs to check out. They include:

  • The YO global reception: Your chance to mingle with peers, members of the YO Committee, Academy leaders and ophthalmologists who are leaders in providing eye care to underserved areas around the world.
  • Subspecialty Day: A boost of information that keeps you current.
  • The YO Lounge: A place just for YOs to hang out between sessions and enjoy the free WiFi and other amenities; open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. the last day of the meeting.
  • Instruction courses and skills transfer courses: A great way to work on surgical skills and discounted 50 percent for members-in-training.
  • Residency and university alumni receptions: A great way to meet alumni who have been where you are.
  • Modern Technologies and Techniques for Young Ophthalmologists to Know: A YO joint symposium (SYM27) hosted by the Academy, Middle East Africa Council of Ophthalmology and the European Society of Ophthalmology, it features world-renowned leaders in multiple subspecialties speaking on ground-breaking innovations.
  • YOs in International Ophthalmology: A great program for YOs interested in volunteering abroad and incorporating this work into their careers.
  • YO ARVO happy hour: A networking event for ophthalmologists interested in a career as a clinician-scientist, as well as junior faculty.

Six Tips for a Great First Meeting
The meeting is far more than courses, however. To help you make the most of your first time, we asked some of the panel participants for their tips on having a great meeting.

  • Use the shuttle to your advantage. “Talk to the person sitting next to you,” says Dr. Lloyd. “Everyone uses the shuttles, so that person could be another resident, the editor of a journal, an Academy board member or the author of a textbook. Heck, you might even meet me!”
  • Plan ahead. “Once you get to the meeting, it can be quite overwhelming to navigate because there is so much going on,” says Brad Feldman, MD, chair of the Academy’s YO International Subcommittee. “Take a look at the meeting schedule in advance and pick a few talks, courses, symposia etc. each day that they will try to attend.”
  • Look for what you can’t get anywhere else. Robert Copeland, MD, recommends you “have a game plan” that helps winnow down the vast list of offerings. “Pre-program your courses and check out courses that you don’t normally have access to or knowledge of. Then type up an itinerary for yourself. It’s the best way to avoid being overwhelmed.”
  • Carry a stack of business cards with you at all times. “Don’t hesitate to walk up to the most feared, impressive, powerful ophthalmologist in the room and ask them questions about the Academy, ophthalmology in general, advocacy, or whatever comes to mind,” says Dr. Lloyd. “The meeting is a great opportunity to meet the leaders in our profession and get the answers you want and need.”
  • Attend field leaders’ sessions. “If you've had a chance to read any journal articles during residency, you will recognize leaders in the field at the meeting,” says Dr Feldman. “They are mortal and the meeting is a great place to meet these role models. The best way to interact with these individuals is to attend one of their courses. If you have a pressing question during the course, ask it. If you are feeling shy, just wait until after the course and approach the ophthalmologist at that point.”
  • Have fun! “The meeting is huge, exciting and a great place to learn and meet people,” says Diana Shiba, MD. “Approach the meeting with an open mind, and make sure you try to take advantage of all the great things at the meeting that are just for you: The YO lounge, global YO reception and the YO program and courses.”

Want even more advice on the meeting? Don’t miss the discussion in the Annual Meeting group in the Academy Online Community, where your peers are sharing everything from their favorite Chicago sites to tips for navigating the meeting.

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About the author: Kimberly Day is a freelance health writer and medical editor and a frequent contributor to YO Info. She is the co-author of Hormone Revolution and ghost writer of Eat Papayas Naked.

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