Journey to the Cutting Edge

Nonaccredited ophthalmology meetings preview the future.

By Larissa Camejo, MD
 

We physicians have a limited amount of time in our fast-paced lives, but we owe it to ourselves and to our patients to stay up to date and to practice ophthalmology within accepted guidelines. We never stop learning, which to me is one of the most appealing aspects of medicine and of life. With so many meetings available, however, where should we invest the little time we have? Should we attend traditional continuing medical education (CME)-accredited meetings such as those of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), American Glaucoma Society (AGS), American Society of Cataract Refractive Surgery (ASCRS), Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), and the like? What about non-CME events such as MillennialEYE Live, one of the AECOS (American-European Congress of Ophthalmic Surgery) symposia, Glaucoma 360, or Cataract Surgery: Telling It Like It Is? Balance is the answer.

AT A GLANCE

• Physicians owe it to themselves and to patients to stay up to date and to practice ophthalmology within accepted guidelines. With so many meetings available, however, where should doctors invest the little time they have?

• Nonaccredited ophthalmology meetings offer many benefits, including an opportunity to learn about what is coming next way before it is readily available. Other advantages can include free discussion and a willingness to court controversy.

STARTING EARLY

Some non-CME events are only 2 to 7 years old. I admire the ophthalmology residents I see attending these meetings, because I cannot help but feel that they might be at least slightly visionary. When in training, it is not unusual to be caught up in a tightly packed residency program, with a lack of sleep compounded by an excess of learning material. The basics need to be conquered now. Residents must learn all about the eye in 3 short years. I do not recall knowing of or assisting in any non-CME events during my residency. When my fellow residents and I assisted or presented papers at meetings, they were those of the AAO, ASCRS, ARVO, or AGS.

DIFFERENT CHARACTERISTICS

The Cutting Edge Freely Discussed

The CME events I have mentioned are all wonderful meetings, but they differ as a group from non-CME events. Most obviously, the former offer CME credits, and the latter do not. Of course, credits are a requirement that we must meet to renew our medical licenses. That said, although the intention of CME-accredited events is to present information that is free of commercial bias to the audience, this stipulation can have the adverse effect of limiting speakers’ ability to share highly educational information. In my experience, the talks at non-CME events are frequently rich in information and sometimes feel more current and practical. The reason is that presenters can describe their experiences and knowledge more freely. They are permitted to share examples and real-life know-how, complete with the proprietary names of machines, software, and instruments they have used. Non-CME events are usually an excellent forum for the discussion of innovations—what is in the pipeline and emerging in the field of ophthalmology. A third advantage of non-CME meetings is that they tend to be smaller than CME events, which gives the former a more intimate and collegial atmosphere that is perfect for networking.

Get Up To Speed

Some Meetings to Consider

> AECOS Winter Symposium
www.aecosurgery.org/aecos-2017-winter-symposium.htm

> Cataract Surgery: Telling It Like It Is
www.cstellingitlikeitis.com

> Glaucoma 360
www.glaucoma.org/news/events/glaucoma-360.php

> MillennialEYE Live
www.millennialeyelive.com

The opportunity to learn about what is coming next way before it is readily available is by far my favorite part of non-CME events. It used to be that only those who were directly involved in research or with industry knew about cool new technologies. Many of today’s non-CME events, however, put ophthalmologists side by side with company owners and researchers to discuss new discoveries and the creation and testing of new devices. As an attendee, I can personally interact with leaders in the field, mentors, and friends. In a nutshell, these meetings seem to me to embody the spirit of modern ophthalmology.

Controversy on Display

A highly educational aspect of some non-CME events is that they do not shy away from controversial content. Just as the characteristics, goals, and target audiences of CME events like those of the AAO, AGS, ARVO, and ASCRS differ, however, so do those of non-CME meetings. For example, MillennialEYE Live is geared toward a young—although not exclusively millennial—audience. The organizers focus on audience engagement through short talks high in audiovisual content, topics relevant to modern ophthalmic practice, and insight into the innovations in the field. Audience participation is strongly encouraged.

I have also attended Cataract Surgery: Telling It Like It Is. It was one of the busiest meetings I have ever been at in terms of back-to-back talks and long hours, but the content was so interesting that I did not mind.

CONCLUSION

Based on my experience, I encourage any colleagues who have not yet attended one of the non-CME events I have mentioned to give one a try. These meetings can help ophthalmologists hit the ground running when they complete their training, and they give any of us a peek at innovations 5 to 10 years before they become available. I find that excitement invigorating, and I intend to explore more non-CME events in the next few years.

Larissa Camejo, MD
• glaucoma specialist and founder of Larissa Camejo, MD, Center for Medical and Surgical Eye Care, Jupiter, Florida
larissacamejo@me.com

 

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