I can think of a hundred reasons to skip an ophthalmic meeting. My top three (in no particular order): fly-fishing for trout, fly-fishing for trout, and fly-fishing for trout. The other 97 reasons would involve time spent with my wife and children. My point is that attending a meeting should have a huge impact on your practice to even garner your consideration. So, why attend these meetings? A few key reasons are (1) to earn mandated CME hours to maintain your license, (2) to gain knowledge from more experienced colleagues on emerging topics, and (3) to gauge the state of your clinical practice patterns in relation to your colleagues'. Ancillary reasons include renewing friendships, relaxing amongst colleagues, and taking certification courses for procedures you would like to incorporate into your practice. I also attend major meetings to take part in clinical research team meetings that discuss ongoing FDA trials for ophthalmic surgical procedures and devices.
Beyond those I have listed, however, is one ultimate reason why I attend certain ophthalmic meetings. At least once per year, a meeting will provide me with the opportunity to meet a colleague for the first time who simply astounds me. In many cases, the individual has elected to take a less visible position in the field of national and international ophthalmology, yet he or she has a breathtaking comprehension of clinical, surgical, and business issues that I have not previously heard. It may be that this person has had clinical experiences similar to or unique from mine that neither of us has ever read in a book but that one or both of us have seen in clinical presentation multiple times. These sorts of encounters set in-depth conversation in motion. When I realize I am in the presence of one of these precious individuals, I try to keep the conversation one-sided by asking all the questions so that I may soak up all of his or her knowledge for my own edification in the short span of our meeting. Afterward, I use e-mail to keep in touch with this colleague and try to tap into his or her brainpower on an ongoing basis. These valued acquaintances are the true treasures of my continual education in ophthalmology. Thus, although attending a meeting is very important to my practice, it is the introduction to that colleague that raises my consciousness to another level and reorganizes my thoughts into an entirely new framework. This is my secret reason for returning to the same meetings each and every year.
For this month's edition of Cataract & Refractive Surgery Today, the staff and I are proud to present some of the most exceptional information from the World Cornea Congress V conducted in Washington, DC, in April. Likewise, I am hopeful that you will find your way to an ophthalmic meeting soon and have a great “meeting of the minds” with a fantastic colleague.