From trainee to attending: RWO conference guides young ophthalmologists making the transition


A successful career in ophthalmology may seem daunting to a young trainee, but Real World Ophthalmology is here to reveal the secrets.

Over the course of nine sessions, the conference addresses nearly every challenge a young clinician may encounter while building a new practice. (Image credit ©Atlas /
Over the course of nine sessions, the conference addresses nearly every challenge a young clinician may encounter while building a new practice. (Image credit ©Atlas /

Founded by Lisa M. Nijm, MD, JD, Real World Ophthalmology is an educational resource designed to help young ophthalmologists thrive in early practice. Its focus is everything you don’t learn in ophthalmology residency and fellowship – negotiating contracts, mastering new technologies in the operating room, and managing a clinical practice, among many others.

Real World Ophthalmology’s third virtual conference, titled “Tell Me Your Secrets…,” is scheduled for this month on Saturday, April 15. It builds on discussions and feedback from previous meetings to specifically cater to the current needs of young ophthalmologists. The program includes clinical sessions regarding new treatment paradigms and emerging technologies, discussions to build financial literacy and establishing your brand, and opportunities to gain real-world insight from 70-plus exceptional leaders in the field.

Each session runs between 30 to 60 minutes and will be followed with a question-and-answer period with the speakers. Other events to watch throughout the day include an “Ask Me Anything” with Stephen McLeod, MD, CEO of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and professor emeritus in ophthalmology at the University of California San Francisco, a feature session describing the IOL patient journey with Vance Thompson, MD, of Vance Thompson Vision in Sioux Falls, and a fire-side chat with Michael Chiang, MD, d irector of the National Eye Institute.

The agenda

Over the course of nine sessions, the conference addresses nearly every challenge a young clinician may encounter while building a new practice. These include:

Session I – Diagnoses Not to Miss as an Early Career Ophthalmologists features leaders from the main specialty societies. Each will share three important “can’t miss” diagnoses and pearls of their specific practice.

Session II – Questions to Ask About Jobs covers questions to ask while navigating the job market post-training and tips to succeed in various domains: academia, group and solo private practice, private equity, and industry.

Session III – Challenging Clinical Cases highlights common conditions that may not always present the way you expect. Experts will share insight to approach and manage these patient cases.

Session IV – Coding & Financial teaches basic skills of evaluating a practice financially, reading a balance sheet and working through coding challenges. These skills are critical to build a fiscally sound practice, although they are not often discussed in training.

Session V – Cataract & Refractive Surgery in the Real World offers young ophthalmologists a chance to learn about emerging technology and how to best improve patient outcomes early in their surgical careers.

Session VI – New Drugs, Devices, Procedures explores the newest diagnostics and changes in treatment paradigms to keep early clinician up to date with best practices. This session includes genetic testing in ophthalmology, incorporating dry eye and blepharitis into your practice, indications for MIGS, and many more.

Session VII – Taking Surgery Skills to the Next Level will share expert insight to selectively build a surgical caseload and how to work through possible complications.

Session VIII – Building Your Practice Early On addresses key components to market yourself as a young ophthalmologist and create a successful working environment with colleagues and staff.

And Session IX – Being Healthy in Real Life Practice delves into elevating your career from the start while maintaining peak professional, physical, and mental wellness.

Real World Ophthalmology Opportunities

In addition to giving tips for success, Real World Ophthalmology also offers young ophthalmologists opportunities to showcase their research and gain recognition for exemplary clinical skills.

Presented a poster recently at another conference? Submit your work to the Poster Hall of Fame! This is a compilation of the best research posters by young ophthalmologists so that their work may be displayed and shared with larger audiences.

Conference attendees also can nominate candidates in training or those who have been in practice for less than 10 years for several awards: Humanism in Ophthalmology, Skilled Surgeon, Inspiring Academic Leader, Practice Trailblazer, Excellence in Community Service, Outstanding Patient Advocate, and the Visionary Award.

This day-long virtual conference is a can’t miss event for young ophthalmologists across all stages of training and early clinical practice. Several expert ophthalmologists and leaders in the field are ready to share their experiences and mistakes, so the next generation doesn’t make the same ones.

Conference registration is free for ophthalmologists in training or in their first 10 years of practice. Early sign-up is encouraged due to limited space. Visit the website for more information.

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