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Young Ophthalmologists
A Resident’s Guide to AAO 2014: Top 5 Reasons to Attend
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The transition from training to practice can be unsettling to say the least. During this time, young ophthalmologists (YOs) face a unique set of professional and personal demands and challenges. Fear not, though — at AAO 2014, the Academy will help guide you through the process. From contract negotiation and practice selection to clinical pearls and surgical labs, the annual meeting is an unprecedented opportunity for YOs of all stripes to master the key issues of their young professional careers.

This month, YO Info takes a look at what AAO 2014 has in store for residents and the top five reasons you should save the date.

1. Engage in your career
Whether it’s connecting with peers, leaders, industry professionals, coding experts or just old classmates, there’s no comparable opportunity this year to engage with the entirety of your profession all under one roof.

How can AAO 2014 propel your career forward?

  • Employment — Discuss job options in real time with future employers.
  • Marketing — Learn what it takes to build a patient base and a positive Internet presence.
  • OKAPs and the boards — Discover the best tips to conquer your exams, all from the professionals.
  • Advocacy — Learn about the political issues and concerns that will affect your career and how to get involved.

2. Fill in the professional gaps
Your residency will do an excellent job training you in diagnostics, surgical skills and disease management, but there are a lot of real-world elements essential to practicing medicine that aren’t formally addressed.

The YO Program — “It’s YO World, Jumpstart YOur Career” — can help fill in any professional gaps, especially those with which you aren’t comfortable. This year’s four-hour program offers interactive panels specifically designed for members-in-training on topics such as:

  • Choosing a practice type;
  • Finding your dream job;
  • Contract negotiation;
  • And more.
YOs at last year's YO Program.
YOs at last year's YO Program.

It’s YO World, Jumpstart YOur Career” (Course # SPE08) takes place Sunday, Oct. 19, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in room S101AB of McCormick Place. Lunch included! 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. Academy members in training pay only $100 for the course pass — a significant savings.

3. Get skilled by the experts
Not only does AAO 2014 help improve any deficiencies in your business skill set, it also provides some of the best opportunities to learn a host of surgical proficiencies so that you can gain confidence practicing independently after graduation.

This year in Chicago, the Academy is featuring several sessions and Skills Transfer labs designed with residents in mind. Here’s a sampling of some events:

  • Introduction to Corneal and Lens-Based Refractive Surgery for Residents (Course # SYM02; Sunday, Oct. 19, from 8 to 11 a.m. in room E450). This course will provide an overview of the most relevant topics on corneal and lens-based refractive surgery, including patient evaluation, a step-by-step surgical explanation of LASIK and discussion of complication management. Course sponsored by the International Society of Refractive Surgery, a partner of the Academy.
  • Social Media Liability in Your Office (Course # 178; Sunday, Oct. 19, from 2 to 3 p.m. in room S504BC) This course will discuss the use of social media in the physician practice and how best to address certain issues, including HIPAA and confidentiality; reputation control; using social media to conduct informal background checks; and looking at employee use of social media in and out of the workplace from a legal standpoint.
  • Hanging a Shingle in the 21st Century: Is a Start-up Solo Practice Possible in 2014? (Course #363; Monday, Oct. 20, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in room S505AB) What challenges face physicians wishing to open a solo practice in the 21st century? How can these challenges be overcome? The presenters, who have all opened solo practices in highly competitive markets, will share their experiences, from strategy to tactical execution of planning, financing, building, credentialing, opening, and growing a practice built from scratch.
  • Learning Phaco Chop: Pearls and Pitfalls (Course 533; Tuesday, Oct. 21, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in room E451B) This course will present both variations of the phaco chop technique, their advantages in complicated cases, the instrumentation, machine parameters, and transition steps involved, and common mistakes.
  • International Opportunities for Young Ophthalmologists (Course # SYM49; Tuesday, Oct. 21, from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m. in room S100C) This course will examine the unique challenges of incorporating volunteer service into one’s career by sharing the experiences of those who have found ways to balance work abroad with family, clinical practice, and financial concerns at home.

4. AAO 2014 is a great value
Don’t let the thought of expenses keep you from the annual meeting — as previous attendees will tell you, do whatever it takes to make the trip. It’s worth the time and cost, most of which will come from travel, food and accommodations.

Registration for AAO 2014 is free for all Academy members in training and includes more than 120 hours of free programming — symposia, Spotlight Sessions, Academy Café panels, YO Lounge networking events and Learning Lounge and Technology Pavilion sessions, to name just a few. Make sure to apply for your free Academy membership to get the member-in-training discounts.

In addition to the discounted Academy Plus course pass mentioned above, Academy members in training also receive:

  • A 50 percent discount on all Skills Transfer labs and Breakfast With the Experts ticket purchases;
  • Discounts of up to $400 for both the one- and two-day Subspecialty Day meetings; and
  • A 50 percent discount on tickets to the Orbital Gala — a Roaring ’20s–themed, must-attend event in support of the Academy Foundation. It includes a cocktail reception, silent auction, dinner and dancing.

Be sure to check with your training program for any institutional funding options — many programs will fund the full trip or cap paid expenses to cover transportation, housing, meals and additional session fees. Some residencies also send their YOs to the annual meeting with a stipend if they are first author presenters.

5. Chicago is a world-class destination
There’s something for everyone in the Windy City. Sports fans can catch a Bears game at the newly renovated Soldier Field. Music lovers should make sure to visit Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven Foundation at historic Chess Studios, where legendary musicians like Chuck Berry and Aretha Franklin laid down their first tracks. Foodies, make your reservations early for some of the most famous and exclusive restaurants in the world. And, of course, don’t forget to take in the stunning views from the John Hancock Observatory or the Willis Tower Skydeck.

Next month: What does AAO 2014 have to offer YOs in one to five years of practice?

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

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