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How to Connect With Your Peers in The Big Easy
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He was a giant of ophthalmology, known for his rules for identifying retinal tears. But the day one young ophthalmologist wound up sharing popcorn with Harvey Lincoff, MD, typifies the many unexpected, meaningful connections that happen every year at the Academy’s Annual Meeting. “[Dr. Lincoff] wandered into the Young Ophthalmologist (YO) Lounge looking for the Senior Ophthalmologist (SO) Lounge,” recalled YO Info Editorial Board Member Janice C. Law, MD.
Harvey Lincoff, MD, with young ophthalmologists during the 2010 Joint Meeting in Chicago.
Dr. Law (center) with Dr. Lincoff at the 2010 Joint Meeting in Chicago.

“Seeing our complimentary popcorn, beer and foot massager, he knew he hit the jackpot and couldn’t leave. I introduced myself along with two other YOs, and we talked about the history of the Academy, retina surgery and what ‘the young folks’ are doing nowadays. Never in my mind would I have imagined myself sharing popcorn with Dr. Lincoff!”

People attend the Academy’s Annual Meeting for a variety of reasons — sharing their latest clinical findings, learning a novel surgical technique, demonstrating new treatment modalities — but Dr. Law reveals perhaps one of the most significant: forging new relationships.

This month, YO Info provides you with some insight on how you can make your own meaningful connections in New Orleans and engage an audience of your peers at the most important ophthalmology gathering in the world.

Connect with Your Peers
“I think one of the most significant connections I’ve made at the Annual Meeting was actually becoming aware of the YO Committee and finding out how to become a resource for other YOs,” said YO Info Editorial Board member David E. Vollman, MD, MBA. “As a result, I’ve become more active in my own state ophthalmology society and have really learned about the importance of being an advocate for our patients.”

Here are some of the best venues for making your own connections with YOs in New Orleans:

The YO Lounge. Now in its sixth year running, the YO Lounge (Room 278-279, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center) is the ideal place to meet and mingle with other YOs. Just show your “YO” ribbon to access the lounge and enjoy free Wi-FI access and refreshments.

The lounge is open throughout the Annual Meeting, but here are some can’t-miss networking events:

  • OPHTHPAC and Surgical Scope Fund networking event (Saturday, Nov. 16, from 4 to 6 p.m.) “During this event, YOs can meet and rub elbows with Academy leadership while learning how the Academy fights for doctors and patients in real-world politics,” said YO advocacy subcommittee chair Diana Shiba, MD, in an email. “You’ll be able to meet the real movers and shakers in ophthalmology — and all in an intimate setting!”
  • YO Neighbor! Canadian and American Cross-Border Conversations (Monday, Nov. 18, from 10 to 11 a.m.) “We often work with countries far beyond our borders,” said YO international subcommittee member Lauren Patty Daskivich, MD, MSHS, in an email, “but there’s also a wonderful opportunity for networking and partnering with our continental neighbors, as well as gaining a different perspective on policy and advocacy.” The Academy’s YO Committee and the Canadian Ophthalmological Society’s Resident Affairs section will jointly sponsor the session.
  • Meet With an International Expert (Monday, Nov. 18, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) This lunchtime event will provide an opportunity for YOs to rub elbows, gain pearls and learn about common pitfalls from experts in the international arena of health care.
  • YO ARVO! Exploring Careers in Research networking event (Monday, Nov. 18, 4 to 6 p.m.) Jointly sponsored by the Academy’s YO Committee and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology’s Members-in-Training Committee, this networking event will feature senior clinicians and scientists who are paving the way in ophthalmic research and willing to offer their pearls to YOs who are interested in doing the same.

Global YO Reception. The YO Lounge is also the place where you will want to pick up your tickets for Sunday night’s Global YO Reception (Nov. 17, from 9 p.m. to midnight; Republic New Orleans, 828 South Peters St.). During this very popular event for members only, you’ll be able to let your hair down and share a drink with YOs from around the world. Space is limited — so pick up your tickets as early as possible!

Connect with Leaders
Like no other ophthalmic event, the Annual Meeting plays host to all of the titans in the profession. “Because of the meeting I have met experts in different fields of ophthalmology who have helped shape my own interests,” said resident James G. Chelnis, MD, in an email. He noted that an Annual Meeting conversation with, YO Committee chair Robert F. Melendez, MD, MBA, led to his present involvement with the YO Info editorial board.

In addition to the YO Lounge networking sessions mentioned above, here are some other events where you can rub shoulders with some of the greatest minds in ophthalmology:

Joint YO/SO Symposium: So You Want to Be a Leader in Ophthalmology? (Tuesday, Nov. 19, from 8:30 to 10 a.m., Room 243-245) A joint symposium of the YO and SO Committees, this event will take a look at the growing number of vacancies that exist for leadership positions in the rapidly evolving field of health care.

A panel of speakers will comment on mechanisms for sustaining a continued foundation of strong leadership, with a particular focus on how YOs can begin developing, fostering and sharpening the leadership skills required to fill these positions. Speakers will include YOs who occupy current leadership roles as well as ophthalmologists who have been in these positions for many years.

Academy Learning Lounge (Hall G, Booth 3647) Visit the Learning Lounge to engage in interactive discussions and presentations in a small group setting led by well-known ophthalmic leaders. New topics begin every 15 minutes and range from the management of posterior capsular tears to maintenance of certification.

YOs definitely won’t want to miss “Growing YOur Business with Social Media Marketing” on Monday, Nov. 18, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Space is limited — first come, first served! Visit the Academy’s website for a detailed schedule of events.

Academy Café (Room 271-273) If you’re looking for free coffee and lively discussion with the most experienced experts in oculoplastics, retina, glaucoma and more, be sure to check out this annual favorite. Bring your smartphone or laptop to send questions to an expert panel via text message.

No ticket is necessary — simply stop by and join the conversation. Search for “Academy Café” using the Online Program for a complete listing of times and topics.

Connect with Industry Professionals
“I bought my practice from a retiring physician who had a fair amount of equipment that needed to be sold and updated,” said YO Info Editorial Board chair Natasha L. Herz, MD. “Because I was on a limited budget, the exhibition allowed me to connect with reputable vendors who buy and refurbish used equipment — invaluable connections that I’ve repeatedly called on for help over the last five years!”

If, like Dr. Herz, you are interested in meeting hundreds of industry vendors and product representatives, spend some time at the Annual Meeting Exhibition — the largest exhibition of ophthalmic technology, products and services in the world.

It’s open Saturday, Nov. 16, through Monday, Nov. 18, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday, Nov. 19, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visit the Academy’s Virtual Exhibition to search for exhibitors by company name, booth number and product categories.

Connect with Coding Experts
While in the Exhibit Hall, you can also take advantage of 20-minute private consultations with American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives practice management experts at the AAOE Practice Management Center (Hall G, Booth 3239).

“Conversations with the Experts” will host more than 25 consultants from the AAOE Consultant Directory, who will provide you with customized advice on topics ranging from financial management to EHR to billing to legal matters and more.

Stop by the AAOE Practice Management Center to make an appointment with the consultant of your choice. Hours are Saturday, Nov. 16, to Monday, Nov. 18, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday, Nov. 19, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Connect with Classmates
The Annual Meeting is also a great place to catch up with classmates and mentors as well as find out more about a variety of specialized interest groups.

Check out the Academy’s complete listing of the near 150 alumni and related group events taking place throughout New Orleans during the Annual Meeting.

Connect Virtually Anywhere
And don’t forget that you can follow the meeting and connect with your colleagues online — even if you aren’t able to make it to the Big Easy this year:

  • The Academy’s Facebook page is where you’ll find photos and community feedback from New Orleans.
  • On Twitter, use the official #aao13 hashtag and follow @aao_ophth for all of the last-minute updates, Academy news and impromptu gatherings. And new this year, use the #yoprogram hashtag to ask questions during the 2013 YO Program “It’s YO World, Jump Start YOur Career.”
  • #yoprogram
  • Last but not least, make sure to join the Academy Online Community’s Annual Meeting group, an exclusive forum for ophthalmologists to share tips on a successful meeting, trade opinions on essential courses and discuss what to do around the city.

Make the Connections Last
The valuable exchanges and connections that you’ll make at this year’s Annual Meeting don’t have to end when you leave New Orleans. The Academy Online Community also offers alumni, subspecialty and special interest groups, an opportunity to share insights, opinions, ideas and experiences as well as stay in touch with old friends and all of your connections from the Annual Meeting — where all of ophthalmology meets!

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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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