Advocacy Ambassadors will be inspired and engaged to be successful leaders in their practice setting, community, state and subspecialty society as well as national and international organizations. This session provides members-in-training an opportunity to network and interact with active leaders in ophthalmology with panel discussions covering four major areas: Leadership, Engagement, Advocacy and Practice Management (LEAP).
The Academy’s Advocacy Ambassador Program is a partnership with state, subspecialty/specialized interest societies and training programs. The goals of the Advocacy Ambassador Program are to:
- Engage and educate members-in-training (residents and those undergoing fellowship training) early on as to the importance of advocating for their profession (training future advocates for patients and for the profession)
- Help members-in-training understand the importance of membership and active involvement in their respective state ophthalmology and subspecialty societies
- Expose members-in-training to some of the critical issues in medicine being discussed by leaders in ophthalmology during the Mid-Year Forum and council sessions
The LEAP Forward concept was first introduced at Mid-Year Forum 2015 and continues to incorporate suggestions for improvement each year. Session organizers, the Academy’s Young Ophthalmologist (YO) Committee and Secretariat for State Affairs, have recommended enhancements to the session at Mid-Year Forum 2019 that included:
- Assignment of “table leaders” moderated Q&A sessions with Advocacy Ambassadors during designated networking times. Twenty table leaders were assigned and included Academy and state and subspecialty society leaders in different phases of their careers.
- Rotation of table leaders which Advocacy Ambassadors an opportunity to interact with different leaders and hear different perspectives.
- A preview of issues related to private equity buyouts of ophthalmology practices in addition to other practice management concepts during the Practice Management panel.
Summary of Comments from Guest Speakers
The 2019 session was moderated by Academy YO Committee members Steven M. Christiansen, MD, and Grace Sun, MD, with a lead-off introduction by YO Committee Chair Janice C. Law, MD. Drs. Christiansen and Sun moderated the four panel discussions on Leadership, Engagement, Advocacy and Practice Management. Dr. Law guided Advocacy Ambassadors in networking with assigned table leaders.
Each of the four topic themes began with a keynote speaker* followed by an interactive panel discussion. Keynote speakers and panelists each shared pearls and inspirational personal stories as examples on ways to become engaged and involved at the community, state society and national levels. The four panels included leaders in ophthalmology at varying points in their ophthalmology careers, as well as previous Advocacy Ambassadors.
Leadership: Tamara R. Fountain, MD, immediate past president, American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery and Graduate, LDP 1, Class of 1999, American Academy of Ophthalmology
Engagement: Aaron M. Miller, MD, secretary for member services and graduate, Leadership Development Program XI, Class of 2009, American Academy of Ophthalmology
Advocacy: Paul Sternberg Jr., MD, past president and cofounder Leadership Development Program, American Academy of Ophthalmology / G.W. Hale professor and chair, Vanderbilt Eye Institute
Practice Management: Ruth D. Williams, MD, chief medical editor for EyeNet® Magazine, member, Committee of Secretaries and past president, American Academy of Ophthalmology / consultant and partner, Wheaton Eye Clinic
Summary of Audience Comments
Residents and fellows participating as Advocacy Ambassadors appreciate this unique opportunity to interact and network with Academy and society leaders. This included a presentation by the Academy’s CEO David W. Parke II, MD. Follow-up to the LEAP Forward session included many positive statements by the participating Advocacy Ambassadors. When asked what they liked most about the session, ambassadors responded:
- The session provided a wonderful opportunity to network and learn from AAO and society leaders as well as from fellow ambassadors. Understanding the paths many of our leaders took to gain leadership roles and become advocates was very insightful and helped me think of new ways to become more engaged. The realities of practice management are also very important to young ophthalmologists transitioning into practice and this was very helpful to hear as well. Overall great speakers. Truly inspiring for residents in-training.
- The time taken to discuss future practice concerns such as raising awareness about Private Equity groups.
- The whole thing was great! I really liked the portion where we talked about private practice and private equity. It was helpful as I'm currently trying to plan for my career and the YO leaders had really great insights.
- Best part is meeting amazing leaders in the field and roundtable opportunities.
- The group discussions were great, and it was really good to have an experienced advocate at each table to discuss the issues with and answers questions. The panel discussions were also informative.
High Priority Objectives
- Motivate Advocacy Ambassadors to engage in future state scope issues.
- Continue to engage and inspire Advocacy Ambassadors to be involved not only in the Academy, but also back at home within their respective state ophthalmology societies as well as subspecialty/specialized interest societies.
- Encourage state and subspecialty/specialized interest societies to be inclusive and offer YOs an opportunity to be involved.
- Continue to educate Advocacy Ambassadors on the differences and the importance of contributing to three critical funds: OPHTHPAC® Fund, the Surgical Scope Fund and State Eye PACs.
- Ensure that Advocacy Ambassadors fulfill the requirement to present their Mid-Year Forum experiences to their colleagues during grand rounds or other presentation opportunities (the Academy’s Ophthalmic Society Relations department distributed a template PowerPoint to all Advocacy Ambassadors immediately after the Mid-Year Forum on April 15, 2019 and encouraged them to personalize it based on their own experiences).
- Inspire Advocacy Ambassadors to return to Mid-Year Forum and Congressional Advocacy Day as part of a committed community of advocates
Read the full Mid-Year Forum 2019 Report: View as webpages or as a PDF (360 KB).