May 2019


YES Connect
Young ophthalmologists on why they joined ASCRS

by Liz Hillman EyeWorld Senior Staff Writer

In this month’s YES Connect column, Ashley Brissette, MD, Eric Donnenfeld, MD, Kerry Solomon, MD, and Claudia Perez-Straziota, MD, discuss the importance of involvement with ASCRS and how to be involved. According to the 2018 ASCRS Clinical Survey, most YES members joined during their residency training. All of the discussants mentioned the importance of networking opportunities at the ASCRS ASOA Annual Meeting. Dr. Brissette discusses the YES track of courses geared toward members in training and those in their first 5 years of practice. Dr. Perez-Straziota points out the progression of learning that happens through attending the meetings over several years as she was training and is now in practice. The meeting also gives young surgeons exposure to experiences and approaches that they may not see at their own institution. It is important to see how well-established surgeons continue to evolve and improve their own approaches

—David Crandall, MD,
YES Connect Co-Editor

“There are so many conferences in ophthalmology, but ASCRS stands out to me for the programming, networking, and Skills Transfer Labs.”
—Ashley Brissette, MD


When Claudia Perez-Straziota, MD, first attended the ASCRS ASOA Annual Meeting 11 years ago, she was not even a resident. She got hooked on the experience of presenting research and almost every year since she has shared at least one paper.
Once Dr. Perez-Straziota was in residency, she knew she wanted to focus on the anterior segment, making ASCRS a good fit.
Of the fellows who took the 2018 ASCRS Clinical Survey, 63% said they joined ASCRS while in residency. Similarly, 67% of members who were within their first 5 years of practice joined during residency.
Ashley Brissette, MD, joined ASCRS in her second year of residency.
“I decided to become a member after attending my first meeting and was completely blown away with the Young Eye Surgeons (YES) programing. I followed the YES track in the program and attended didactic sessions, roundtables, and networking sessions. I learned more practical surgical and clinical pearls than I had at any other meeting by that point,” she said. “Now, as an attending ophthalmologist, I encourage all of our residents and fellows to attend because I think it’s a valuable experience.”
“This is the society for anterior segment surgeons, so if you want to be an anterior segment surgeon and further your career, this is the society for you,” said Kerry Solomon, MD, a former ASCRS president who was passionate about getting young eye surgeons involved during his tenure. “The Annual Meeting is key, but throughout the year there are huge opportunities and value adds for members. One, for example, is the peer-to-peer group that is part of EyeConnect. There are also opportunities to network and get together for satellite meetings.”
Eric Donnenfeld, MD, said the society is always looking for “dedicated individuals who want to make our organization better so that ASCRS can be a resource not just for people who want to become better surgeons, but also to be an avenue to make a difference in ophthalmology and leave a mark on our profession. For ophthalmologists who are dedicated to improving quality of surgery, there is no better organization than ASCRS.”

In terms of the meeting, Dr. Solomon said it can give young eye surgeons a “glimpse into real-world practice,” covering material that is addressed in training but perhaps not to the same level.
“In your first 5 years, I think it’s essential to broaden your education and refine your knowledge of where the current state of cataract and refractive surgery is,” Dr. Solomon said.
Dr. Donnenfeld said the Annual Meeting helps anterior segment surgeons meet increasing patient expectations.
“Patients are looking for quality vision and they want ophthalmologists who are able to deliver outcomes that are difficult to obtain. At ASCRS you receive the tools, the knowledge, and you have the backup of our organization to allow you to become proficient in all of these different areas that you may or may not have obtained during your residency.”
Dr. Perez-Straziota described her decade- plus of attending the Annual Meeting as going through phases. When she first attended, she said she was excited and a bit intimidated. When a first-year resident, she thought the meeting showed her the things she was about to start learning. By her second year of residency, she was starting to understand more, and in her third year doing more surgery, she was able to better appreciate at the meeting how people from other institutions did things.
Once out in practice, Dr. Perez-Straziota said the Annual Meeting helped solidify her knowledge and presented her with different ways of doing things so she could decide what was best for her and her patients. There’s also the content provided by ASOA, she said.
“You have to understand a lot about billing, coding, meaningful use, etc.,” she explained. “[The ASCRS ASOA Annual Meeting] is a great resource for that, which you often don’t think about when you are a resident. That’s a new phase of ASCRS for young people.”
“The Annual Meeting provides concentrated exposure to all the new developments, findings, and trends. Some of these may prove more useful than others over time, and that exposure combined with interactions with colleagues is invaluable in deciding what to incorporate into your practice and what to watch closely for more data,” Dr. Perez-Straziota said, adding that it’s important to stay up to date on the latest technology, trends, and techniques.
Dr. Brissette said she never misses the ASCRS ASOA Annual Meeting because of its focus “on everything anterior segment.”
“There are so many conferences in ophthalmology, but ASCRS stands out to me for the programming, networking, and Skills Transfer Labs,” she said.

About the doctors

Ashley Brissette, MD
Assistant professor of ophthalmology
Weill Cornell Medicine
New York Presbyterian Hospital
New York

Eric Donnenfeld, MD
Clinical professor of ophthalmology
New York University
Ophthalmic Consultants of Long Island
Garden City, New York

Kerry Solomon, MD
Carolina Eyecare
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Claudia Perez-Straziota, MD
Clinical assistant professor of ophthalmology
University of Southern California
Shammas Eye Medical Center
Los Angeles

Financial interests

Brissette: None
Donnenfeld: None
Perez-Straziota: Cole Eye Institute
Solomon: None

Contact information

5 ways to get involved

• Submit an abstract for a paper or poster or a film for the Annual Meeting.
• Contact one of the ASCRS Clinical Committee chairs about getting involved with a committee.
• Volunteer for Operation Sight, the ASCRS Foundation’s domestic charitable cataract surgery program, or see how you might be able to get involved with the Foundation’s Robert Sinskey Eye Institute in Ethiopia.
• Become an eyeContact with the grassroots efforts of ASCRS Government Relations.
• Attend the Legislative Fly-In.
• Ask questions and participate in conversations on EyeConnect.

Young ophthalmologists on why they joined ASCRS Young ophthalmologists on why they joined ASCRS
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