National Medical Association offers opportunities for students, across specialties

October 19, 2022

2 min read



Healio Interviews

Woreta reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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The National Medical Association’s Annual Convention and Scientific Assembly offered health care professionals across specialties an opportunity to share experiences, explore medical advances and discuss priorities in health care policies.

Fasika A. Woreta, MD, MPH, current chair of the National Medical Association (NMA) ophthalmology section and an associate professor at the Wilmer Eye Institute, spoke with Healio/OSN about the highlights of this year’s meeting, the developments she hopes to see in future meetings and the importance of increasing attendance across specialties.


Source: Healio Interviews

Healio/OSN: What were some of the highlights in the cornea/external disease field at the National Medical Association meeting?

Woreta: Shahzad Mian, MD delivered a lecture on the evolution of corneal transplantation. He talked about the latest techniques in corneal transplantation, as well as what is on the horizon in terms of cell-based therapies for endothelial cell regeneration. He also discussed identifying mutations in genes associated with Fuchs’ dystrophy and the potential for gene therapy. Finally, he talked about artificial endothelial transplants and potential future innovations

Healio/OSN: What importance did this years cross-specialty case presentations hold for ophthalmologists?

Woreta: I think stimulating conversations between different specialties in terms of how we can work together to take care of our patients is important. We had a cross-specialty symposium for cornea and glaucoma in which we discussed the challenges of performing corneal transplants in patients with previous glaucoma surgeries as well as the effect of the topical glaucoma medication netarsudil on the cornea.

Healio/OSN: What role do young ophthalmologists and students play in shaping each years program?

Woreta: It is wonderful to see all the students interested in pursuing ophthalmology as a career. This year, a historic number of medical students and residents participated in our annual meeting, thanks to the Rabb-Venable Excellence in Research Program. This is a National Eye Institute-funded program that provides travel grants to students. Mentorship and giving students the chance to present their research and interact with ophthalmologists are invaluable at the early career stage. They are the future of the field, so it is important for them to be exposed to the National Medical Association at this stage, so they can be active members when they graduate.

Healio/OSN: What significance did this years meeting location of Atlanta hold for the NMA?

Woreta: We had our meet-and-greet at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. Ninita Brown, MD, PhD, who was the NMA chair for the past 2 years, organized the beautiful evening. It was special for the students to have the opportunity to interact with ophthalmologists in this historical museum and with a focus on civil and human rights.

Healio/OSN: Which topics would you like to see developed in future meetings?

Woreta: Angela Elam, MD, who was our Roger P. Mason Distinguished Lecturer, told us about her personal journey as a glaucoma specialist conducting health equity research, and she inspired many students to think about social determinants of health as they take care of patients. Addressing social determinants of health in ophthalmology is an important step in eliminating health inequities, and it is important to continue to talk about it. We also had a physician wellness symposium led by Thandeka Myeni, MD, MPH, which was wonderful, and we need to continue to focus on this as well.

Healio/OSN: Is there anything else you would like to mention?

Woreta: I would like to see ophthalmologists support the NMA because the symposiums and lectures are very high quality, and physicians can obtain their annual CME credit. Next year’s meeting will be in New Orleans from July 28 to 31, and we would like to see more ophthalmologists from both underrepresented and non-underrepresented medicine backgrounds become members and support the National Medical Association.


  • 2022 Annual Convention and Scientific Assembly Board of Trustees Meeting. Accessed Aug. 29, 2022.

For more information:

Fasika A. Woreta, MD, MPH, can be reached at email:

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