• 5 Ways to Connect at AAO 2014

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    Ophthalmologists will attend AAO 2014 for many reasons — whether it’s sharing clinical findings, learning new surgical techniques and practice management tips or simply window shopping for new equipment. But there’s another reason to visit Chicago that’s no less important — forging new relationships. Here are five of the more meaningful — and free! — ways to connect at the most important ophthalmology gathering in the world.

    This month, YO Info provides you with five of the more meaningful — and free! — ways to connect at the most important ophthalmology gathering in the world.

    1. Connect with Your Peers

    Since its inception in 1896, the Academy’s annual meeting has been centered on fostering camaraderie and collaboration between ophthalmologists. Here are a few of the best venues to connect with your peers at AAO 2014, Oct. 18-21.

    The YO Lounge. Now in its seventh year, the YO Lounge Grand Concourse Lobby, McCormick Place is the ideal place to meet and mingle with other YOs. Show your “YO” ribbon to access the lounge, enjoy free Wi-FI access and refreshments and attend the networking events sponsored by the YO Committee and other partners.

    The lounge is open throughout AAO 2014, but here are some can’t-miss networking events, all free.

    • Meet with an International Expert — Saturday, Oct. 18, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Gain pearls and learn about pitfalls from experts in the international arena.
    • OPHTHPAC® and Surgical Scope Fund networking event — Saturday, Oct. 18, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Socialize with Academy advocacy leaders and learn about their efforts to protect quality patient eye care locally and nationally.
    • YO ARVO! Exploring Careers in Research — Sunday, Oct. 19, from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Interested in a career in research? Hear from Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology President William Mieler, MD, and network with senior clinicians.
    • Managing YO Practice: AAOE Roundtable Discussions — Monday, Oct. 20, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Get tips and guidance from practice management experts on coding and other crucial business topics.
    • EyeCare America Celebrates 30 Years! — Monday, Oct. 20, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Learn about EyeCare America and its “30 by 30 YO Challenge,” an initiative to inspire at least 30 YOs to enroll as volunteers by Jan. 1, the charity’s 30th anniversary.

    Global YO Reception. The YO Lounge is also where to pick up tickets for Sunday night’s Global YO Reception Oct. 19, from 9 p.m. to midnight, at the brand new venue Shay. During this very popular member event, jointly hosted by OMIC, you’ll be able to let your hair down and enjoy a drink with YOs from around the world. Space is limited — so pick up your free tickets early in the meeting!

    2. Connect with Leaders

    Like no other ophthalmic event, AAO 2014 brings together all of the titans in the profession. In addition to the YO Lounge networking sessions mentioned above, here are some other events where you can pick the brains of some of the greatest thought leaders in ophthalmology:

    Academy Learning Lounge (Hall A, Booth 107). Visit the Learning Lounge to engage in interactive discussions and float among presentations in a small informal setting led by well-known experts in the field. New topics start every 15 minutes and range from advanced IOL power calculations to global ophthalmology volunteer experiences.

    YOs definitely won’t want to miss “Build Your Brand With Social Media” on Saturday, Oct. 18, from 4 to 5 p.m., facilitated by YO Committee chair Rob F. Melendez, MD, MBA.

    Space is limited — first come, first served! Visit the Academy's website for a detailed schedule of the free events.

    Academy Café (S404). If you’re looking for free coffee and lively discussion with the most experienced experts in cataract, glaucoma, retina and more, be sure to check out this annual favorite. Bring your smartphone or laptop to send questions to an expert panel via text message.

    No ticket is necessary — simply stop by and join the conversation. Search for “Academy Café” using the Online Program for a complete listing of the eight moderated discussions.

    3. Connect with Industry Professionals

    If you are interested in meeting hundreds of industry vendors and product representatives, spend some time at the AAO 2014 exhibition — the largest exhibition of ophthalmic technology, products and services in the world.

    It’s open Saturday, Oct. 18, through Monday, Oct. 20, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday, Oct. 21, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pre-plan your visit with the Virtual Exhibition. You can search for exhibitors by company name, booth number and product category.

    4. Connect with Coding Experts

    While on the exhibit floor, you can also take advantage of free, 20-minute consultations with practice management experts at the American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives Practice Management Center Academy Resource Center, Hall A, Booth 508.

    “Conversations with the Experts” features more than 25 consultants from the AAOE Consultant Directory. Get customized advice on topics ranging from financial management and electronic health records to billing and legal matters.

    Stop by to make a free appointment with the consultant of your choice. Hours are Saturday, Oct. 18, to Monday, Oct. 20, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday, Oct. 21, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    5. Connect with Classmates

    AAO 2014 is also a great place to catch up with classmates and find out more about different specialized interest groups. View the nearly 200 alumni and related group events taking place throughout Chicago during the annual meeting.

    Connect Virtually Anywhere

    And don’t forget that you can follow the annual meeting and connect with your colleagues online — even if you aren’t able to make it to the Windy City this year:

    • The Academy’s Facebook page is where you’ll find the latest pictures, news and community feedback from Chicago.
    • On Twitter, use the official #aao2014 hashtag and follow @aao_ophth for real-time meeting updates and info about all of the impromptu gatherings. For all things YO-related, use and follow the #aaoyo hashtag.
    • Last but not least, make sure to join the Academy Online Community’s AAO 2014 group, an exclusive forum for ophthalmologists to share tips on a successful meeting, trade opinions on essential courses and discuss what to do around the city!

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