• L.E.A.P. Forward in Your Career at This Year’s Mid-Year Forum

    Are you interested in becoming an active leader within your state society and the Academy and an advocate for your profession? Do you want to learn how a mentorship can propel your career forward? Are you seeking a larger engagement with all levels of medicine, from the local to the international? Are you seeking practical tips that will help you as you begin practice?

    If so, L.E.A.P. Forward, a new session at this year’s Mid-Year Forum in Washington, D.C., is designed specifically for young ophthalmologists participating in the Mid-Year Forum as part of the Advocacy Ambassador Program. On Friday, April 17, the L.E.A.P. Forward session will cover four major topics: leadership, engagement, advocacy and practice management.

    What Is It?

    “L.E.A.P. Forward truly is an introduction to the world beyond training,” said program co-chair Daniel J. Briceland, MD, Academy senior secretary for advocacy. The three-hour session consists of short 10-minute talks and panel discussions about everything from the importance of good leadership to scope-of-practice updates and the changing ophthalmologist-optometrist relationship.

    “Each year at the Mid-Year Forum, we have this growing group of motivated advocacy ambassadors from across the country,” said program co-chair Purnima S. Patel, MD, YO Committee chair. “With this L.E.A.P. Forward program, Academy leadership will inspire them to leap forward and become engaged and active leaders.”

    Why Now?

    YOs learn plenty of clinical and surgical pearls during residency, but what about the other professional areas in which ophthalmologists need to excel? What about the practical issues and concerns that YOs might not typically experience until 5 or 10 years into practice?

    “Up until this point, the Mid-Year Forum has been primarily focused on those issues that pertain to the established practicing ophthalmologist, with very little emphasis on developing skills for YOs ” said program co-chair Robert F. Melendez, MD, MBA. “The L.E.A.P. Forward session will change all of that — helping YOs guide ophthalmology into the future.” Dr. Melendez brings to the program his insights gained as former chair of the YO Committee, editor-in-chief of the Ophthalmic News and Education (ONE®) Network and board member of the American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives.

    What to Expect

    “Most of us who are involved in developing the L.E.A.P. Forward program are former advocacy ambassadors,” said Dr. Patel. “We remember how much we gained from our experiences at the Mid-Year Forum, most of all, the lasting culture of mentorship from leaders across the country.”

    Program planners are making sure the structure will foster interaction between ambassadors and ophthalmologists of all ages and from all walks of life. Panels will include ophthalmologists at various points in their careers — from Academy past presidents to YOs currently serving in leadership roles at the state and national levels. Panelists will be asked to think of relevant stories and practical advice to share with ambassadors.

    “This cross-generational approach will demonstrate the importance of a lifelong commitment to being an active and engaged citizen in our field,” said Dr. Patel. And, most importantly, participants will then be able to take what they learn and apply it to all levels of medicine — from small practices and academic settings to state or national organizations.

    How to Participate

    L.E.A.P. Forward attendance is limited to participants in the Advocacy Ambassador Program, which brings residents and fellows to the Mid-Year Forum and Congressional Advocacy Day. Participating residency programs and state, subspecialty and specialized interest societies cover travel expenses and let ambassadors to attend without a vacation penalty in their work schedule.

    Last year, the program helped more than 150 members-in-training attend. Ambassadors attend special briefing and debriefing sessions before and after visiting Capitol Hill. They are also mentored by seasoned ophthalmology leaders and given other resources during and after the Mid-Year Forum’s full slate of events.

    Contact your program director or state ophthalmology society for more information about the Advocacy Ambassador Program.

    Come Join the Fun!

    “Our young ambassadors need to know they are the future leaders in ophthalmology who will one day lead an eye care team — locally, regionally, nationally and internationally,” said program co-chair Janice C. Law, MD, a member of the YO Committee. “They need practical advice from those doing it now about what it takes to become an engaged citizen in our profession.”

    This April, come witness how the Academy is invested in training future leaders, not just future doctors.

    * * *

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