If you’re on the fence about coming to the Joint Meeting in Chicago, the chairman of the YO Committee has a message for you: attendance is a smart investment, especially if you attend this year’s YO Program on Nov. 11. “These presentations cover so much ground and allow attendees to ask so many relevant questions that if you tried to get the same quantity and quality of information from a consultant, you would be spending several thousands of dollars,” says Robert F. Melendez, MD, MBA, who will moderate the popular four-hour session.
“This session is typically very well attended, and no wonder,” he said.
The YO Program (event code SPE09) is designed to address every substantive issue young ophthalmologists face today. The program planners chose panelists who can address all the major concerns facing every new generation of physicians — from deciding what kind of practice to pursue and which patients to serve, to figuring out the best insurance coverage and announcing yourself to other eye surgeons already established in your community.
Academy President Ruth Williams, who will address program attendees, agreed. “Older physicians have something precious to share with YOs: wisdom. We’ve been through big changes in health care before, and we’ve been through reimbursement cuts,” she said. “We know that we will always have work and that the work has intrinsic value. We know that the joy of being an ophthalmologist remains strong even as changes occur.”
Other panelists will provide expertise on coding, choosing a practice type, marketing yourself and other topics.
Advocacy: Lindsay Rhodes, MD, will extend the discussion to physicians’ social and political engagements, drawing on her own brief experience in the nations’ capital. “I worked for a U.S. Senator for several years prior to medical school and saw first-hand how important it is to be actively engaged in the political process,” she said. “I think many people who have never been involved in politics may find the process overwhelming.” Her presentation will demystify involvement and cover practical ways physicians can advocate for their profession and their patients.
Marketing: Randall V. Wong, MD, will discuss the importance of developing an online presence and offer practical tips. “Today’s patients look for doctors who are amenable and knowledgeable about the Internet,” he said. “Without internet savvy, there are huge numbers of patients you will just never meet. What’s more, if residents are smart they will start on their own website while still in residence, so as a physician ready to start practicing, they will already have an Internet face for the public and certain amount of valuable Google traffic already running.”
Contract negotiation: Lawrence Geller, vice president at Medical Management Associates in Atlanta, will address missteps common for young physicians in both general ophthalmology and the subspecialties. “Time and again, the problem I find in reviewing and critiquing a candidate’s draft employment agreement is that it fails to address the ophthalmologist’s eligibility for partnership. One candidate told me that the practice owner said to him, ‘You don’t need to worry about the buy-in now; we’ll figure that out later.’ That is a warning sign of things to come!” He’ll provide practical advice on employment offers, contract negotiation and more. “In the end, it is really all about setting and managing expectations,” he said.
Social media: Purnima Patel, MD, will discuss how tools like Facebook and Twitter affect and change the physician-patient relationship. “The media allows patients more access to their physicians, which can have both positives and negatives for physicians,” she said. “Like with everything a fine balance must be found — which is exactly what we will discuss during the YO program.”
The YO Program takes place on Sunday, Nov. 11, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in room S101AB of McCormick Place. This year the program is included in the Academy Plus course pass, which is discounted for members in training. Attendees will have to show their YO ribbons to gain entry.
Dr. Williams believes the program will inspire, not intimidate, attendees. “Young ophthalmologists, both men and women, are often interested in how we older physicians have managed complex lives,” she said. “Many of us have spouses with careers of their own, children, outside interests and the desire to succeed in all of these categories. It looks daunting in the beginning. And it is daunting. But it is also possible to thrive and to have meaningful careers. Ophthalmology is an incredible community of energetic, smart, hard-working people of all ages. I’m really impressed with our young ophthalmologists — we need them.”
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About the author: Denny Smith is a former editor for EyeNet Magazine.