2021 Special Recognition Award:
Young Ophthalmologist (YO) Committee
The Special Recognition Award is presented each year to an individual or an organization for outstanding service in a specific effort or cause that improves the quality of eye care. The 2021 Special Recognition Award recipient is the Academy’s Young Ophthalmologist Committee, better known as its YO Committee.
YOs are an important part of the Academy membership demographic. They are our members in training — in residency or fellowship — and those in the first five (5) years of practice. Since its inception in the late ’90s, the YO Committee has brought a significant voice and more effective representation to the newest members of the Academy — the potential future leaders of the profession. In 2008, three (3) YO subcommittees were introduced and have successfully furthered Academy YO efforts:
- The YO Info Editorial Board has produced a well-received e-newsletter distributed monthly to approximately 7,000 global YOs. It features clinical pearls written by and for YOs; practice management information; highlights of YO advocacy superstars; and resources specific to YOs. Special editions are produced each year including a Resident Edition with pearls for those just starting their residency training; a Graduate Edition for those just completing their training and heading into practice; and an International Edition, which features articles by and spotlights on international YOs.
- The YO Advocacy Subcommittee has engaged YOs at the state and federal levels. Its most significant outcome has been its contributions to the Advocacy Ambassador Program. Residents and fellowship trainees come to Washington, D.C., each year for the Academy’s Mid-Year Forum to learn and participate alongside seasoned advocates. They join in Congressional Advocacy Day and participate in a dedicated session for them — L.E.A.P. Forward — an interactive forum to discuss leadership, engagement, advocacy and practice management. Back home, Advocacy Ambassadors have stepped up and engaged in state level scope of practice issues and have moved into state society leadership positions.
- The YO International Subcommittee’s focus has been on facilitating the development of complementary YO structures around the globe and collaborating on joint educational sessions specific to YOs. YO committees are now prevalent in state, subspecialty, regional, national and supranational ophthalmology societies.
Beyond these specific efforts, the YO Committee has prompted the Academy to reconsider the makeup of other committees and opportunities to be highlighted ‘on the podium.’ YOs are increasingly participating as members of important secretariats, committees and task forces and included in increased opportunities to be highlighted on the podium at important meetings. In addition, the YO Committee has been the impetus for important Academy endeavors such as the EyeWiki® and been out front on Academy social media efforts.
Academy YO Committee Chair Janice C. Law, MD is accepting the Academy’s 2021 Special Recognition Award on behalf of her current team as well as her YO Committee and subcommittee predecessors who have continually pushed the envelope to engage, inspire and motivate the YO demographic.