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Where Do Young Eye Surgeons Begin Networking? With the Experts, Of Course
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It seemed an ideal place to start an ophthalmology career. But two years after moving there, the young physician found herself looking for new employment and saddled with a job experience difficult to explain to potential new employers. Would you know how to avoid the mistakes she made?

Pennsylvania health care consultant Michael J. Parshall says the trouble started when the young physician moved to an area oversaturated with ophthalmologists. “She found a practice to hire her but it paid her only $120,000 annually, which barely supported her,” he said. “And even then, it was over six months before she performed her first cataract surgery. That simple procedure took her over an hour because she was rusty and unfamiliar with the equipment and personnel. She never generated enough revenue to even earn a bonus, and after about 18 months, the practice terminated her.”

Mr. Parshall will discuss this story and more as a panelist during the session “Networking With the Experts — Knowledge and Tips for the Young Ophthalmologist” (SPE05) at this year’s Joint Meeting in Chicago. Designed for young ophthalmologists who have just begun practice, the session will take place from noon to 1:30 p.m .on Saturday, Nov. 10, at McCormick Place, room S101AB. Tickets are $20, which includes lunch. The course is not included in the Academy Plus course pass.

“‘Networking With the Experts’ was originally created to meet the needs of YOs who have been in practice for at least one year,” said Robert F. Melendez, MD, a cataract and refractive surgeon in Rio Rancho, N.M. and chair of the Academy’s YO Committee. “Our goal was to have experts sharing what it takes to buy into a practice, to invest your money wisely and to build your practice and reputation,” he said. You can also take time and speak personally with the experts after the event in our YO Lounge.”

Moderated this year by Sanjay R. Kedhar, MD, a uveitis and infectious disease expert at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, the panel’s faculty of experts also includes:

  • Denise Chamblee, MD. A pediatric ophthalmologist in Newport News, Va., Dr. Chamblee appeared on this panel at last year’s Annual Meeting. This year, she will discuss the services offered by OMIC and the most frequent malpractice claims against ophthalmologists. “The discussion will include the five most common ways ophthalmologists ‘get in trouble’ in the medical malpractice arena and ‘pearls’ for how to avoid this trouble,” Dr. Chamblee said. “This will be an interactive forum where questions and participation will be welcome.”
  • Sanjayy Goel, MD. A refractive surgeon in Columbia, Md., Dr. Goel will address "The Importance of Networking in Medicine.” This will include how young physicians can increase referrals to their practice from community doctors, especially by becoming an active member of their state ophthalmic and medical societies, Dr. Goel said. “I will give them some suggestions on how to become a ‘second or third tier’ referral when the number one option isn't available. Most importantly, I will discuss why the word ‘work’ is in the word ‘networking.’ It takes time and energy to establish and foster a good network.”
  • Derek Preece. An experienced practice manager and frequent Annual Meeting presenter for the American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives, he will discuss financial planning for ophthalmic practices. “My presentation will center on what young ophthalmologists should do for financial security when they first join a practice and then as they build some wealth,” Preece said. “I will emphasize handling debt and savings and positioning yourself for the inevitable financial ups and downs of practice life.”

“These panel discussions encapsulate things I had to learn piecemeal over several years from friends and colleagues,” Dr. Kedhar added. “The earlier in your career that you know these things, the better prepared and more successful you will be. I wish I had something like this when I started out.”

Dr. Kedhar also echoed Dr. Melendez in describing the course’s origins: “This session was originally conceived to help YOs with issues central to the business side of their careers — issues that residency and fellowship generally don't prepare us for.”

“Many YOs may not be aware of all the issues they should address before signing a contract,” he added. “It’s more than just terms of the buy-in, compensation or call schedules. YOs preparing for their first job after training will really get a lot out of these talks on how networks can help in growing their practice and on the pitfalls to avoid with their first contract. And everyone could benefit from tips on financial planning and medical liability. Don't miss it!”

For more information about “Networking With the Experts” and other courses designed for the young ophthalmologist, visit “YO Events at the 2012 Joint Meeting in Chicago.”


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About the author: Denny Smith is a former editor for EyeNet Magazine.

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