The Academy’s Mid-Year Forum 2022 was an outstanding gathering of ophthalmologists throughout the entire country united in our efforts to advocate for policies that directly affect patient care.
Here’s my list of fabulous five moments, photos included, to showcase the energy, camaraderie and passion our advocates showed throughout the meeting. Enjoy!
1. Advocacy ambassadors in action
Advocacy Ambassadors like to say that if you don’t advocate for your own profession, nobody else will. As busy ophthalmologists caring for multiple patients in the clinic and the operating room, while also working on our crucial sight-saving research, it’s easy to forget about larger policy and practice management issues that affect our patients and our professional lives. If we don’t invest time and effort to fight for our seat at the political table, other stakeholders will make decisions for us, often to our disadvantage. Building collaborative relationships with lawmakers, showing gratitude for the support they have given and educating them regarding key issues on the horizon are the building blocks of how we can collectively make positive changes for the future. Creating meaningful policy changes takes time and political will, but my voice, even as a young ophthalmologist, is important!
2. Chatting with our role models as YOs
I was star-struck with all the rock-star ophthalmologists you could see at every table during the Leadership, Engagement, Advocacy and Practice Management (L.E.A.P. Forward) sessions.
Tamara Fountain, MD, Academy immediate past president and all-time best motivational speaker? Check.
Artificial intelligence wizard and NEI Director Michael Chiang, MD? Check.
Academy CEO, former Ophthalmology journal editor-in-chief and certified most-charming accent Stephen McLeod, MD? Check.
Their quirky and insightful anecdotes about showing up to Academy events, being proactive and, in the process, meeting their own mentors back in the day left me inspired to embark on the same path of advocacy and excellence.
3. Hanging out and taking selfies with TikTok superstar Dr. Glaucomflecken
Taking a selfie with social media superstar Will Flanary, MD, better known as his alter-ego Dr. Glaucomflecken, was a runaway highlight. With 2.5 million subscribers between his Tik-tok, YouTube and Twitter accounts, his online content is both down-to-earth comedy gold and a cheeky commentary on the absurdities of everyday life in the health care profession. While speaking on stage, he debuted a hilarious, never-before-seen skit involving Ike Ahmed, MD, his long hair, and an unsuspecting patient who just needed “a few pokes in the eye at the slit lamp” to adjust a misaligned post-op toric IOL. Hanging out in the middle of the crowd, it was great to meet the genuine, accommodating and surprisingly tall person behind the camera (I am just 5-7 for comparison, see photo). He was all smiles for his fans even as star-struck ophthalmologists mobbed him from all directions to get a few more photos. I shared with him that I used to do a little improv comedy myself back in the day, and with a warm smile, he just said, “Keep at it kiddo; you’re doing great.”
4. Making new friends with other YOs
Creating new friendships with other Advocacy Ambassadors was the best part of the meeting, as we shared our triumphs and horror stories experienced during residency and fellowship training. Many activities also involved connecting with people outside your state societies, which encouraged opportunities to meet people from all corners of the United States. Together at the boardroom, Capitol Hill and on the rooftop of the Watergate Hotel overlooking the Potomac River, sharing laughs and a couple of drinks with this special group of people feels like the start of new lifelong friendships.
My trip to Washington, D.C., would not have been possible without the generous support of the EyeWiki executive committee, which awarded my article titled Diabetic Macular Ischemia as one of this year’s four winners. As of April 10, my article has already been viewed 3,746 times, and it feels great to contribute and help other learners interested in my topic. This makes me want to write another article for 2023, so hopefully, I can see everyone again next year!
||About the author: Cris Martin Jacoba, MD, is the chief retina fellow at the Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Department of Ophthalmology.