Last year, I was thrilled when I learned that the annual meeting would be only a direct plane flight away in San Francisco. I was even more excited when, as a member of the Young Ophthalmologist Committee, I was asked to help plan the YO Program at AAO 2019.
My husband and I had some exciting news of our own when we learned that we would be welcoming our first child in early October. I continued to help plan the program, knowing I would no longer be able to attend and hear from our panels of excellent speakers. Imagine my delight when I realized that through the Virtual Meeting, I could watch all of the presentations and even interact with moderators in real time.
The meeting was easy to log into using an email link. After navigating to the YO program, I settled in on the couch for the entirety of the session with my 11-day-old son, my laptop, burp cloths and some snacks.
The fact that I was able to take care of my child (and possible future ophthalmologist) while actively participating in this professional and educational event was really important for me as a new parent.
Before my son was born, I first attended the YO program as a resident and then as a fellow. Each time, I left feeling inspired and motivated after hearing from current and future leaders in our field. The program always does a great job of providing both career and life advice though an open and informal setting in a relatable manner. I found this year did not disappoint.
The meeting interface on the computer was well-formatted. It had a section for comments from other virtual attendees and the moderators next to a live-feed video of the panelists, and, when appropriate, their PowerPoint slides. Although not attending in person meant I missed the opportunity to network face-to-face with new colleagues, I still connected in real time via texts with former co-workers and mentors whom I saw as panelists and participants.
The Virtual Meeting was a great way for me to participate in the meeting even from a distance. I wish I had taken advantage of this opportunity earlier on in my training.
In the future I plan to attend in person (and maybe even bring my son, just like Dr. Rupa Wong, who had her children at the YO Program). But knowing this virtual opportunity exists is something to remember and utilize, even if you’re not a parent. A big thanks to AAO for providing such a resource!
You can still access the Virtual Meeting until Jan. 31, 2020.