You’re a young ophthalmologist, either in training or in your first five years in training — so am I. We learn ophthalmology, how to examine patients, how to do surgery, but there are some important things we do not learn.
How do we find our first (or second) job? How do we transition into practice? Can we stay “well” during our practice when confronted with challenges like disappointing outcomes/complications, anxiety? Is there a place for us in international ophthalmology? The YO symposium is a good place to learn.
The YO Transition into the Career
- Say “yes” early. If asked to be part of an AAO Committee, say “YES!” Go to local and regional conferences and show up! You will get experience and make personal connections. These connections will serve you throughout your entire career and be excellent mentors. “You can’t say “no” until you say yes a few times,” said Sahar Bedrood, MD, PhD.
- Research the practice/location of interest. An interview is a two-way street; they are interviewing you and you are interviewing them. Your research and interest in the practice will be very evident and impress those that you are interviewing with.
- Don’t forget to live your life. It is okay to have a baby! (My wife and I had our first child in my third year of residency).
- Have excellent communication with referring providers. Consider calling them about patients the referring provider was really worried about.
- In social media, think before you post. “What would my patient with the worst outcome think about this post?” said Rupiah K. Wong, MD.
YO Wellness and Mental Health
- Channel your inner child — be down to play, sleep, eat right, explore your creative side.
- Accept losses. Sometimes things fall apart so that better things can fall together. Sometimes, even the best of us have failure — not matching into residency, a fellowship or getting your first job choice. But we can take these as opportunities to do other things.
- “Happiness ends the moment we start comparing ourselves to others,” said Tamara Fountain, MD.
- Processing surgical complications. YOs are known to have higher risk during cataract surgery than those further in their career: Once you have a complication, there are three stages to help you deal with it: Communication (with the patient, with the team in the room), introspection (why me, why now, what happened, watch the video), determination (call a mentor, critique your video, read about prevention, practice).
- Get support. When going through difficult issues (physical illness, mental illness), support is key — from co-residents, program directors, friends. Communicate issues with your program director — they will help you.
- Check out YO Times, India — a publication for and by YOs in India.
- Access to care is a challenge everywhere, even internationally. Dr. Marcus Ang, winner of the 2019 Artemis Award, has done amazing work in Singapore helping those in need have access to high-quality eye care.
The Academy and Academy President George Williams, MD, know that we YOs are the future of ophthalmology and are giving us the attention and support to help us grow into excellent physicians.
During training and the first years of practice, we will go through challenges. It is important to destigmatize these challenges — professional, physical, mental and deeply personal that we face as young ophthalmologists.
With ever-increasing rates of burnout and physician suicide, we must be prepared for not if, but when we face career and life challenges that can derail our professional and personal lives. It is not only important to know how to deal with issues that affect us, but key to be a supportive resident and a supportive colleague.
Saying “yes” is great. I personally have said yes a lot in my YO years — I am on the Academy’s YO Info Editorial Board, the BCSC2 Committee, the AAPOS YO Committee and now the Academy Education Committee. I am finetuning my interests and making sure that when I say yes, I am doing things that I want to do and like to do.
Please do the same and jump-start your career, put your mark on ophthalmology and make excellent contacts and connections.