Trainees and young attendings face many decisions that set the stage for their ophthalmology career. To help young ophthalmologists set a course for success, several Academy leaders shared their pearls for residents and job seekers during the Oct. 16 YO Program at AAO 2016. Here are five key take-away messages from the session.
1. Figure out what you want in a job. Rebecca J. Taylor, MD, stressed reflecting on what you want before you look for a job. As someone who has switched from an academic to private setting, she found that a healthy work–life balance was difficult to achieve in the academic world: “Ultimately, the person you will have to answer to when you look back on your choices is yourself.”
William C. Lloyd III, MD, moderator of the 2016 YO Program, also discussed how to merge you career and your passion. He said his first mentor in ophthalmology helped him to discover this passion: “Focus on something with all your heart. When you find your passion, then you can achieve your potential.”
2. Research employers carefully. During a panel on finding your “dream job” and how to approach potential employers, Janet Y. Tsui, MD, discussed how Kaiser Permanente looks for applicants who want to keep a long-term position. She said this can allow one to “focus on patients and be part of something bigger.”
Once you enter the offer-and-negotiation stage, you should also learn about the practice's finances. Nancy Baker, practice administrator and chair of the American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives, detailed how important it is to get a multi-year picture of any practice you want to join: “Ask for the accounts receivable and the expenses of the practice and review them.”
3. Get expert help. Ruth D. Williams, MD, said it's important to find a lawyer and accountant to review everything: “Don’t think that you’re going to learn and become an expert in these topics. Finding a knowledgeable professional is key!”
4. Remember you're a patient advocate. Thomas A. Oetting, MD, MS, convened a panel on how to survive and flourish in the face of surgical complications. He stressed that falling back on our original role as a patient advocate is the best practice when facing surgical complications. The panel also honored Whitney A. Smith, MD, winner of the first Ophthalmic News and Education (ONE®) Network resident video contest, “When Vit Hits the Fan.” Her submission was chock full of pearls for the budding surgeons in the room.
Paul Sternberg Jr., MD, also discussed the role of patient satisfaction. He said doctors can use this new and growing element of physician reimbursement to their advantage. “Patent satisfaction starts with the front desk and the people handling registration — make yourself known to them!”
5. Invest in your future from day one. Courtney E. Bovee, MD, encouraged YOs to get involved in advocacy early on in their careers.“Get in the habit of giving early," she said. “Fifty or 100 dollars makes a difference and allows us to defend our profession across the country.”
Academy President William L. Rich III, MD, also discussed investment in your professional future. He said his own professional involvement led to his current success. Artemis Award winner Paula Anne Newman-Casey, MD, also shared how her own involvement with the Kellogg Eye Center and Hope Clinic helps her invest in the underserved.
Related: Watch past Academy president Ruth Williams, MD, discuss why YOs should pay particular attention to an organization’s core values and work culture when considering a new job. Interview by Steve Christiansen, MD.