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International Attendees' Guide to the Annual Meeting
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Being a first-time attendee to the Annual Meeting can be overwhelming for any YO. When do you register? How do you get there and where should you stay? And once you’re there, how do you make sense of it all…the courses, symposiums, labs, receptions, breakfasts and dinners?

Now imagine you are trying to do all that from outside of the United States! It boggles the mind! To help you plan and organize your time in Orlando, we consulted the Academy’s YO International Subcommittee, which is fresh off recent joint YO sessions with the European Society of Ophthalmology (SOE) and Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology.

Here’s their advice:

Getting the Most Out of the Meeting
First things first, you’ll want to purchase the new Academy Plus course pass, which provides access to 350 Academy and American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives (AAOE) courses. Next, you’ll want to make note of several special events specifically designed for international attendees and YOs. Unless noted, all events listed below are in the Orange County Convention Center.
  • International Center. This is the best place to learn more about Academy programs, check email, grab something to drink or even just put up your feet. Both Spanish and Portuguese translators will be on site.
    • Where: Hall B4, booth 3301
    • When: Saturday, Oct 22, through Monday, Oct 24, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sunday, Oct 25, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  • International Forum (#SPE31). Following an update on the World Health Organization’s Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Blindness, a panel of international experts will present the latest trends in international eye care development. Then, a second panel will provide information and describe the experiences of young ophthalmologists who are becoming involved in international eye care.
    • Where: Room W308abc  
    • When: Monday, Oct 24, 8:30 a.m to 11 a.m.

  • Best of the Academy in Spanish (SPE45). Stick around after the official end of the meeting for the Academy’s 25th Best of the Academy in Spanish 2011. It is just $25 if you register before Sept 30, and will summarize the important presentations in general ophthalmology and all subspecialty fields at the 2010 Annual Meeting. New ophthalmic literature and instruments will also be evaluated.  
    • Where: Peabody Hotel  
    • When: Wednesday, Oct 26, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

  • Anthony Khawaja MBBS
    Dr. Khawaja
  • International Opportunities for Young Ophthalmologists (#SPE24). A “must attend” according to Academy YO international subcommittee member Anthony Khawaja, MBBS. “This is a great starting place if you are interested in volunteering in developing countries,” Dr. Khawaja said. “Get the low-down, be inspired and make invaluable contacts!” 
    • Where: Room W308abc  
    • When: Sunday, Oct 23, 4:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Lauren Patty, MD
    Dr. Patty
  • YO Lounge. If you are looking to relax with other YOs from the United States and around the globe, head to the YO Lounge. Dr. Khawaja highly recommends it as a place to “chill out with your YO colleagues with comfortable seating, food and refreshments, computers, and even foot massagers.” Lauren Patty Daskivich, MD, seconds that sentiment. “The YO lounge is a great way to meet YOs from other places. 
    • Where: Room 208A  
    • When: Saturday, Oct. 22, through Monday, Oct. 24, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday, Oct. 25, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  • Global YO Reception: Free to all international and domestic YOs. Dr. Khawaja says it’s a great way to talk with YOs from all over the world and discover how they train, what their challenges are and gain a new perspective. Plus, the food and drinks are always great! 
    • Where: Orlando Hilton Hotel
    • When: Sunday, Oct. 23, 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Specific Courses for International YOs
While all of the courses offered during the meeting are valuable, a few specific ones may be of particular benefit to international YOs.

Brad Feldman, MD
Dr. Feldman
One of the key courses is Modern Technologies and Techniques for Young Ophthalmologists to Know. It will focus on novel surgical approaches and therapeutic options for the management of diseases of the eye. Academy YO international subcommittee chair Brad Feldman, MD says he is “excited about the collaboration the subcommittee has been undertaking with its global counterparts.”

This joint session with the YO committees of the Academy, SOE and the Canadian Ophthalmological Society will include particular strategies for the treatment of various ocular diseases that are most commonly applied internationally and usually not shared.

As a member of the Academy YO international subcommittee as well as the SOE YO committee chair, Dr. Khawaja is particularly excited about this course. “It is a great collection of talks about cutting edge ophthalmology from around the world, geared specifically for YOs,” he said. This joint session is also FREE.
  • Where: Room W308abc
  • When: Sunday, Oct. 23, 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

If you are interested in eye care in developing countries, Strengthening Eye Care Sustainability in Developing Countries: Case Examples Synopsis (course #425), is for you. This course will examine three case examples from Africa, India, and Central America and look at the transformational process, investment, and results that lead to improved quality and sustainability.

  • Where: Room W105
  • When: Monday, Oct 24, 3:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
And if you’re an early riser, don’t miss the special Breakfast With the Experts session just for internationals: How to Arrange a Fellowship in the United States for Non-U.S. Trainees (B466).
  • Where: Hall A1
  • When: Tuesday, Oct. 25, 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.
Additionally, Drs. Patty and Khawaja both recommend the surgery labs for residents and the courses in general. “From my own experience,” Dr. Patty said, “The surgery labs and courses are great opportunities for YOs to learn new techniques/management pearls or just get some practice.”

Dr. Khawaja also recommended the free paper sessions and posters. “The free paper sessions are high quality and clinically relevant,” he said. “And the posters are very selective and of excellent quality, as compared to most other meetings.”

Dr. Patty is also a fan of Subspecialty Day. “For those with particular subspecialty interests, the subspecialty days are really good for in-depth coverage of one area,” she said. “I've only attended the glaucoma day, but I learned a ton and would love the chance to attend others … though it is more expensive.”

If you are looking for ways to cull down your list, it’s helpful to know that most of the AAOE coding courses are specific to the United States and Medicare, so focus on practice management courses.

Meet the Academy YO International Subcommittee
Stop by the YO lounge during the networking session Meet with an International Expert to say hello to members of the Academy’s YO international subcommittee: Drs. Feldman, Khawaja and Patty, as well as R. V. Paul Chan, MD and Grace Sun, MD.

During the session you’ll also be able to meet international experts such as Academy past president Mike Brennan, MD, Linda Lawrence, MD (recipient of the Academy Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award) and others.

  • Where: YO Lounge, room 208A
  • When: Saturday, Oct, 22, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

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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 contributing editor to Peak Health Advocate.

Academy members: login to read or make comments on this article.