Real World Ophthalmology: A day packed with insights, innovation, and awards


Lisa M. Nijm, MD, JD, discusses the action-packed agenda of Real World Ophthalmology’s virtual event on September 30, 2023.

Real World Ophthalmology's virtual event on Saturday, September 30, is set to unite over 3200 ophthalmologists from 97 countries, offering an action-packed agenda featuring renowned keynote speakers and diverse insights into practice opportunities and innovations in the field. Attendees can also look forward to a celebration of young ophthalmologists through nine awards, on-demand content, and upcoming events. Lisa M. Nijm, MD, JD, sat down with Sheryl Stevenson, Group Editorial Director - Eye Care, Ophthalmology Times, to highlight the conference program.

Video transcript

Editor’s note: This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Sheryl Stevenson: We are joined today by Dr. Lisa Nijm, who is the founder of Real World Ophthalmology.

Lisa M. Nijm, MD, JD: Thanks, Sheryl. It's great to be back. It's hard to believe. But yes, we are on the fifth Real World Ophthalmology. And it's very exciting. We've got over 3200 young ophthalmologists who have joined us now worldwide, and from over 97 different countries. It really is a real world ophthalmology. And we're just so excited to have built this physician community of physicians helping each other.

Stevenson: That's fantastic. Tell us a little about what attendees can expect.

Nijm: Yes, Saturday, September 30, is the next Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew Sooner. We have an action-packed agenda. It runs from 8am to 5:30pm Central Time. Believe me, you don't want to miss it!

Our keynote speakers are the incredible Dr. Paul Lee, who is at the University of Michigan, and well known and beloved from many different organizations and mentoring programs. He's been the president of AUPO [Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology], and he's had so many different roles as being a leader in our field and just one of the giants in ophthalmology. We also are really honored to welcome Dr. Jane Edmond, who is the chair at Dell University in Austin, Texas, and the incoming president of AAO [American Academy of Ophthalmology]. She's been preparing for this for months with so many different pearls of wisdom to share from all of her different experiences and her her leadership roles in the Academy and in the University and beyond. They're going to be joined by over 70 world-class speakers. I don't think you're going to find a one-day program that packs this much punch!

Our first panel alone has ambassadors from the seven major specialty societies. We're really honored to welcome the presidents of four of the major specialty societies: AGS [American Glaucoma Society], ASOPRS [American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery], Cornea Society, and ASRS [American Society of Retina Specialists]. These are all people I love hearing from. I learn from them every time. We're really blessed to have so many of them, who feel like minded and want to come together to help share their knowledge and help the next generation coming forward.

Stevenson: That's a wonderful opportunity for young ophthalmologists. I understand this year they can also learn about the different aspects of practice opportunities from academics and so forth. Can you tell us about that?

Nijm: One of the highlights of our programming is really bringing that real world aspect into the young ophthalmology realm and sort of bringing you people who have done what you may want to do. This time, we expanded our job panel to not only include interview tips and red flags that you want to watch out for—which are always important no matter what job you're looking at—but then to dive in further on joining private equity, on opening your own solo practice, on working for the VA, on working at a county that you truly know all of the different opportunities that you have as an ophthalmologist in early practice or even if you are in midpractice and you're considering changing careers. Hopefully, hearing these incredible experiences will give you a chance to kind of weigh the pros and cons for yourself and see if this is something that's right for you.

Stevenson: That's wonderful. You're also bringing the 'world' to the meeting, right? Real World Ophthalmology. Tell us about the international aspects of this.

Nijm: We learn so much from our colleagues overseas. We've been really fortunate to welcome the head of Oftalmo University, Dr. Ivo Ferreira, and an Egyptian ophthalmologist who's known around the world, Dr. Ashraf Armia. Dr. Ben LaHood, will be joining us from Australia. We have a panel of international experts as well, who can give you some insight into global ophthalmology, how things are done on the other side of the ocean, and hopefully, some practical tips to help you and your patients.

Stevenson: And there's the familiar aspects of the programming as well.

Nijm: You're going to see the same things that you've come to know and love from our virtual event. After we move from the job panel, we are going into 'Clinical Conundrums,' the disasters that you can see when you're out in practice. We've got some incredible cases and insights on how to manage those because we all know that it's different when you're not in kind of the confines of the academic institution and you have to manage these patients on your own.

There's so much innovation. There's so much going on in dry eye, and in retina, and in cataract surgery—so many different lenses to choose from, which is fantastic. But you want to hear from real-world ophthalmologists and from ophthalmologists that have had success with these different lenses to be able to hopefully give you some pearls and insights into how you can use some best for your patients.

And then it wouldn't be complete without practice management and professional development. So practice management, we are super thrilled and honored to welcome AAOE Joy Woodke [COE, OCS, OCSR] and her staff for Coding Power Hour. if you want to get your coding questions answered, you want to get a better understanding of how you should build and code and get paid, we've got you covered. They're going to do everything from the biggest mistakes that they see ophthalmologists make in early practice in billing and coding, the real difference between E&M codes and eye codes and the truth behind audits and what you should do to prepare and protect you and your practice.

The great thing about all our speakers is that we also have lunch-and-learn sessions, where many of our speakers will be present for you to hop on, turn your camera on, get a chance to ask them your questions face to face. We have Q&A at the end of every session where you can submit questions, but then we also elevate it with a chance to interact in person in small-group environment.

Stevenson: Such a wonderful opportunity. I understand there's even more awards this year than ever.

Nijm: There is! It's actually incredible. This has been our largest pool of nominations to date. And that it's so wonderful. The nominations committee has just been floored reading all of the submissions that have come in from really around the world, and what young ophthalmologist are doing nowadays is just incredible. And we are so delighted to have the opportunity to honor them. We're going to be giving nine awards at the meeting on Saturday, September 30. Everything from the Real World Ophthalmologist of the Year to those with incredible scientific innovation and research to leadership and professionalism and ethics. If you want to tune in and see who from your colleagues is being honored there, it's really an inspiring group.

Stevenson: Thank you for this overview. Is there anything else that you'd like to add that we haven't even touched upon?

Nijm: We're going to have some great on-demand content as well. Andrea Tooley [MD] is going to be giving an overview of what to look for at the AAO meeting and all the programming for YOs [Young Ophthalmologists]. And so that's going to be great insight if you're attending the Academy meeting. We actually have our next in-person program at Academy on Friday night, November 3. You're not going to want to miss this one, either. It's going to be Real World After Dark. We're doing a throwback to the World's Fair. We have a lot of surprises in store. There'll be more on that coming. But you want to make sure that you've joined and registered so you can save your spot. We're going to do World's Fair like you haven't seen before.

And then we've got Vance Thompson, [MD], who also is doing a lecture on all the different ways to treat refractive error, cornea based/lens based, from the guru himself in refractive cataract and refractive corneal based surgery. So, there's a lot of information that you can get, even if you can't join us for the whole day. You can pop in or simply access the recordings afterwards, which will be available for 90 days after the meeting. So be sure to join and we look forward to seeing you there.

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