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Young Ophthalmologists
Attend, Listen, Apply: An Annual Meeting Guide for the Practicing YO
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One of the most valuable aspects of being a young ophthalmologist (YO) is the shared experience of success and failure, the learning gained from celebrating and commiserating with peers and colleagues as you move from training through practice. As the largest gathering of young ophthalmologists in the world, this year’s Annual Meeting is a can’t-miss event. In particular, the YO Program presents an ideal situation for YOs of all types to learn about and tackle the common issues facing them as they take their first steps out of academia.

Last time, YO Info looked at what the Annual Meeting has to offer residents specifically. This month, we spotlight new-to-practice ophthalmologists and what the Academy has in store this November to help those transitioning from training to practice.


The YO Program: Calibrated for the Recently Trained
New this year, the YO Program — “It’s YO World, Jumpstart YOur Career” — was tailored to a more specific audience. YO Committee members Eliza Hoskins, MD, and Purnima Patel, MD, co-led the effort to overhaul the program. “Attendees will be happy to find a more interactive and relevant YO Program,” Dr. Patel said.

The new format starts with two hours of content for residents and fellows, followed by two hours of content for YOs in years one to five of practice. “We’ve really tried to focus on the needs of all different types of YOs this year,” said YO Committee Chair Robert F. Melendez, MD, MBA.

#aao13 #yoprogram tip
Use Twitter to ask questions during the program. Include the #yoprogram hashtag to have your question considered.

Related to that, the program committee expanded the panel discussions from one to four to maximize the available time. From locating legitimate practice opportunities to understanding how practices are managed, YOs will have more exposure to the business and contract-negotiation advice so critical to their immediate careers as both partners and clinicians — and it all comes from the mouth of experts.

“Young practitioners are looking for the best answers, the clearest advice available, and they want it from other doctors who are in similar situations … not from some video or canned seminar,” said program moderator William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS. “The YO Program is live and very real.”

During the lunch-time session designed for both residents and YOs in their first few years of practice, speakers will cover topics like social media and marketing your practice, as well as how to leverage all the Academy resources YOs can make use of as they start their career. “YOs new to practice will learn how to become a great partner, physician and leader in the community,” Dr. Melendez said.

The afternoon session that follows focuses more on business concerns. Topics for that segment include:

  • Considerations when signing your contract;
  • Buying-in, reimbursement schemes and revenue sharing;
  • Financial planning;
  • Coding pearls;
  • Ergonomics in ophthalmology;
  • YOs role in protecting quality patient eye care;
  • Surviving surgical and medical errors and
  • How to be a team player in practice.

“It’s YO World, Jumpstart YOur Career” (course # SPE10) takes place Sunday, Nov. 17, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in rooms 252-254 of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. All fees are covered by the Academy Plus Course Pass, which includes access to more than 350 Academy and American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives courses.

Through the program, YOs will be able to submit questions to the four panels, using Twitter. Be sure to tag questions with hashtag #yoprogram.

Visit the Academy’s website for a full schedule of events.

The Annual Meeting: Expanding Your Horizons
In addition to the YO Program, the YO Committee has reviewed and approved a number of other Skills Transfer Labs and Instruction Courses relevant to YOs in their first five years of practice.

“I love the clinical information we can find there,” said Dr. Hoskins, who appears on the YO Program’s team-player panel. “Last year, I was incorporating a new surgical technique into my practice and was able to attend multiple courses and learn from the experts directly.”

Dr. Patel also recommended the AAOE courses. “They are very helpful for YOs to learn the basics of various aspects of practice management,” she said. “We often do not receive much exposure to [such topics] during our training.”

This year’s offerings include an array of topics designed to augment clinical proficiencies and practice-based skill sets:

  • A Step-by-Step Primer to Starting LASIK in 2013 (178; Sunday, Nov. 17, from 2 to 4:15 p.m. in room 209). This instruction course will provide an overview of the principles underlying the safe modern practice of LASIK, as well as surgical-technique pearls that will benefit the beginning LASIK surgeon.
  • Financial Analysis and Reporting (225; Sunday, Nov. 17, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. in room 283-285). This AAOE course is designed to provide tools and techniques for analyzing an ophthalmology practice’s financial performance.
  • Astigmatism in the Cataract Patient (LAB130A; Monday, Nov. 18, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. in room 345). This Skills Transfer lab covers management techniques for pre-existing astigmatism, specifically at the time of implant surgery, with a focus on limbal relaxing incisions, toric lenses and laser treatment modalities.
  • Negotiating Your Buy-In (516; Tuesday, Nov. 19, from 9 to 10 a.m. in room 297). This AAOE course addresses the business and legal aspects of the buy-in to a solo or group practice and other associated entities.

For more information about fees and requirements, as well as other courses, symposia and free offerings for YOs, check out the “Highlights for Young Ophthalmologists” brochure and be sure to visit the Academy’s YO Events Web page or search the online Program Search by special interest “Endorsed by Young Ophthalmologist Committee.”

Come Prepared
Surely, given the breadth of material available, YOs can’t expect to be everywhere at once. So what’s the best approach for making the most out of your time in New Orleans?

Dr. Melendez suggests attendees have a plan readied prior to the meeting. “Ask, ‘What three topics do I want to learn the most about?’ and search out specific meetings to help achieve this plan,” he said. And be aware of the unique environment that each course type offers.

Breakfast With the Experts, for example, provides a more intimate environment with the opportunity to ask questions in a small group setting. Skills Transfer offerings are hands-on labs in which you perform eye surgery on cadaver eyes. Symposia, on the other hand, are much larger lecture type settings with little interaction.

Dr. Patel also advised YOs to not be shy during question-and-answer sessions. “The YO Program was very helpful to me when I was looking for my first job,” she said. “I had the opportunity to learn and ask questions regarding basic facets of an ophthalmology contract; i.e. what things are expected and what items are negotiable, what are reasonable terms. I felt much more comfortable about my first contract having had this information in hand.”

Your Career, Front and Center
Attending the Annual Meeting is an integral aspect of the oftentimes stormy transition from classroom to practice — and the Academy is here for you every step of the way. “I’ve been an invited faculty moderator for the past five years,” Dr. Lloyd said. “I’ve always been impressed with the generosity of panelists who admit to making past mistakes in their career choices and the very solid advice they humbly give to the attendees regarding how to prevent making the same costly mistakes.”

Whether you are listening in on a lecture, fine-tuning your surgical acumen or relaxing with colleagues as you make the rounds in the Exhibit Hall, keep in mind that the Annual Meeting is designed for your success. “The faculty knows that many of the YO attendees are naive babes in the woods when it comes to real-world practice,” Dr. Lloyd said. “We therefore eliminate the fear factor to make it all understandable. “Be sure to attend, listen, apply and get ready to be the best ophthalmologist you can be!”

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About the author: Mike Mott is contributing writer for YO Info and a former assistant editor for EyeNet Magazine.

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