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Young Ophthalmologists
The World Is Run By Those Who Show Up
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Welcome to ophthalmology! You now have your Basic & Clinical Science Course (BCSC) series, your lenses and your Wills Eye Manual and are ready to start stamping out blindness and live happily ever after, right? 

Drs. Purnima Patel, Lisa Nijm and Janice Law at the 2013 OPHTHPAC Reception
Pictured left to right: Drs. Purnima Patel, Lisa Nijm and Janice Law at the 2013 OPHTHPAC Reception

True, you have chosen one of the most rewarding and fulfilling careers. The Academy and the Young Ophthalmologist (YO) Committee now need you to help us keep it that way and become advocates today. Most people equate advocacy in ophthalmology to putting on a suit, going to Washington, D.C., and asking our legislators to not cut Medicare reimbursements so that we can effectively care for our patients. I will not lie to you; this is an important aspect of advocating for our field, but only one of many. Advocacy also means “arguing in favor of something, such as a cause, idea or policy.”

Don’t just complain about it, get on it
Here’s what you can do now. Start by being an advocate for your program. Once the excitement and honeymoon of your program’s orientation wears off and the pace and fatigue of ophthalmology residency ensues, it is natural to become bogged down in complaining about call and rotation schedules, OR time, or lack thereof, and even the quality of the coffee in your hospital cafeteria. But each time you complain about something, I want you to please think about what you are doing to change these shortcomings and make your experience better. Who are you “arguing” with (in a civil manner) to change these issues? Can you identify adjustments in your program’s pediatric ophthalmology rotation that would make it much better? Don’t just complain about it. Get on your residency program’s graduate medical education committee and work with your program director to make these ideas reality. Is the turnaround time between cataract cases too slow in your medical center? Don’t let that put you in a bad mood. Get on your hospital’s OR committee and help champion positive performance and quality improvement for your medical center.
Drs. Eliza Hoskins, Natasha Herz, Tamara Fountain and Purnima Patel at the 2013 OPHTHPAC Reception
Pictured left to right: Drs. Eliza Hoskins, Natasha Herz, Tamara Fountain and Purnima Patel at the 2013 OPHTHPAC Reception

The Academy’s YO Advocacy Subcommittee is charged to help you discover this type of voice. Your voice is important to our field because it is young, energetic and vibrant and a powerful tool to help ophthalmology find constructive and lasting solutions to threats such as declining reimbursements, optometric scope expansion, maintaining physician access to compounded pharmaceuticals and making sure that the National Eye Institute stays funded ... to name just a few.

Time to show up
My department chairman, Ron Smith, MD, was actually the one who helped launch my career by teaching me that “the world is run by those who show up.” There can be so much apathy and negativity in medicine these days, and we want you to rise above that and “show up.” To ensure your own bright and fulfilling futures, become a member of the Academy and your state ophthalmology society today! If you encounter any resistance, e-mail me directly. “Show up” by joining committees that govern your medical center and ophthalmology training program. “Show up” to activities that are sponsored by your state ophthalmology society. “Show up” to Washington, D.C., for the Mid-Year Forum. By simply “showing up,” you will learn the tools and find a voice to help make our field better for generations to come.

May your futures be bright and prosperous; now, get cracking on that BCSC series!

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About the authors: Ruben N. Sanchez, MD, completed his residency training and received his medical degree at the University of Southern California School of Medicine. Dr. Sanchez practices general ophthalmology at Kaiser, Southern California and is a member of the Academy’s YO Advocacy Subcommittee. Ruben N. Sanchez, MD
 
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