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  • 5 Reasons Residents Should Attend AAO 2015

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    Ophthalmology's must-attend meeting is just weeks away -- and the schedule has much to offer residents. From contract negotiation to clinical pearls and surgical labs, AAO 2015 in Las Vegas will give you the tools to succeed in every part of your career. Here are five reasons to attend the biggest meeting in ophthalmology, Nov. 14 to 17.

    1. Meet Your Future Face to Face

    Young ophthalmologists participate in the 2014 YO Program in Chicago
    Young ophthalmologists participate in the 2014 YO Program in Chicago.

    “Attending the annual meeting during residency is like having a sneak peek into the wide and varied possibilities for your career,” said YO Committee member Roma Patel, MD, MBA, who recently completed her glaucoma fellowship at Duke. “It’s ultimately about engaging in your future.”

    Not only will AAO 2015 highlight the newest surgical techniques and provide exposure to the latest schools of thought, it will also put you face to face with influential people who can help you build a solid foundation in several key areas.

    • OKAPs and the boards — Learn the best tips to conquer your exams, all from the professionals.
    • Employment — Network in real time with potential employers.
    • Marketing — Learn the basics about building a solid patient base and a positive online presence from those in the know.
    • Products and services — Immerse yourself in the world’s largest exhibit of ophthalmic technology and get to know the tools of your trade.
    • Advocacy — Hear from physicians on the front lines about the political issues affecting your career.

    2. Bridge Your Professional Gaps

    Rob Melendez, MD, MBA, leads a panel discussion during the 2014 YO Program in Chicago
    Rob Melendez, MD, MBA, leads a panel discussion during the 2014 YO Program in Chicago.

    You’ve spent countless hours in residency learning about diagnostics, surgical skills and disease management, but what about those real-world elements that are also essential to practicing medicine?

    AAO 2015 includes two free sessions specifically designed to help residents successfully make that transition: the YO Program and Welcome to the Real World of Ophthalmology: Reality 101 for Residents and Fellows.

    The two-part YO program includes a number of interactive panels that cover everything from finding the right practice and growing as a surgeon, to contract negotiation and work/life balance. The morning half focuses on building a successful clinical foundation; the afternoon covers everything involved in launching a successful practice.

    Welcome to the Real World entails a one-hour panel discussion, with time for audience questions.

    • YO Program (SPE10): Sunday, Nov. 15, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., lunch included.
    • Welcome to the Real World of Ophthalmology: Reality 101 for Residents and Fellows (SPE16): Monday, Nov. 16, 12:45 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.

    3. Learn from the Experts

    “The annual meeting is a wonderful opportunity to learn about the latest and greatest in ophthalmology, whether it be transitioning to independent surgery or learning and implementing new techniques” said YO Committee chair Purnima S. Patel, MD, who attended her first meeting in 2007 in New Orleans.

    AAO 2015 features several sessions and Skills Transfer labs designed with residents in mind. Here’s a sample:

    • Introduction to Corneal and Lens-Based Refractive Surgery for Residents (SYM03, Sunday, Nov. 15, 8-11 a.m.).
    • OCT in Glaucoma: What’s Real Disease and What’s Red Disease?(course # 279; Sunday, Nov. 15, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.).
    • Phacoemulsification and Advanced Techniques (course # LAB114A; Sunday, Nov. 15, from 4 to 5:30 p.m.).
    • Examining the Optic Nerve and Evaluating the Visual Field: The 5 Rs(course # 482; Monday, Nov. 16, from 2 to 4:15 p.m.).
    • Update on Treatments for Diabetic Retinopathy: Clinically Relevant Results From the Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network (course # 693; Tuesday, Nov. 17, from 2 to 4:15 p.m.).

    Use the online program to learn more and add these courses to your calendar.

    4. Invest in Yourself

    “Think of AAO 2015 as an investment in yourself and your career,” said Dr. Roma Patel. For those concerned about the cost of attending, she suggests getting creative. “Share a room with your colleagues and get around by foot or the shuttle, and remember, you can typically find at least one free meal a day among all of the events!”

    And be sure to take advantage of the many Academy discounts. Registration for AAO 2015 is free for all Academy members in training and includes more than a hundred hours of no-cost programming — including Spotlight Sessions, Academy Café panels, Learning Lounge and YO Lounge networking events and Technology Pavilion sessions. 

    Time is running out to become an Academy member for 2015; be sure to join before the extended deadline, Sept. 16. 

    Academy members in training also get:

    • Significant savings on the Academy Plus Course Pass, which includes access to more than 350 Academy and American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives courses.
    • A 50 percent discount on all Skills Transfer labs and Breakfast With the Experts ticket purchases;
    • Discounts of up to $350 for both the one- and two-day Subspecialty Day meetings; and
    • A 50 percent discount on tickets to the Orbital Gala — a masquerade ball–themed, must-attend event in support of the Academy Foundation. 

    5. Explore a World-Class Tourist Destination

    If you have spare time between sessions or after hours, Las Vegas has something for every resident to enjoy. Foodies can find every type of meal and every type of cuisine — from high dining to casual buffets, while nature lovers can trek out to Red Rock Canyon, the Hoover Dam or Grand Canyon National Park. Shopaholics, prepare yourselves for the countless number of upscale boutiques along the Strip, including the Grand Canal Shoppes, the Fashion Show Mall and The Forum Shops at Caesars. And don’t forget to take a ride in the High Roller Observation Wheel — the world’s tallest of its kind! 

    Whatever your reason to attend, don’t wait too long to register and book your hotel. Preregistration ends Oct. 21, but Sept. 23 is the deadline to get all your meeting materials before your travel. Book after that and you’ll have to stand in line onsite to get your badge. 

    Next month: What can YOs new to practice expect at AAO 2015?

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