image1In 2013, several local female ophthalmologists, including UAB faculty members, decided to get together for dinner. They didn’t know it then, but this was the beginning of a local group known as the WOOs (Women of Ophthalmology).

The WOOs meet between two and four times a year. The get-togethers could be dinner at a faculty member’s home or a cooking class at Sur la Table, but the core idea is all the same: women coming together to support one another on a personal and professional level. 

“The WOOs is an organization which allows for fellowship and support amongst the female faculty in the department, current residents and fellows, and community providers associated with the department. Our events provide for mentorship, and a fun, relaxed atmosphere to network and share ideas,” says Marissa Locy, O.D., Instructor in the UAB Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. 

The group eventually expanded to more than female ophthalmologists in the department. Practicing female ophthalmologists from the area, optometrists, psychologists, researchers, and female residents are all include. 

“I am not an ophthalmologist like most of the other women in the group,” says Laura Dreer, PhD, Director of Psychological and Neurological Clinical Research Services in the Department of Ophthalmology. “When I started attending WOO events, I knew it was a great opportunity to learn more about my fellow female colleagues who are in a different field of study because as a woman, we share so many of the same issues (careers, work-family balance, leadership). For me, this was a very exciting cross-discipline opportunity to not only collaborate and bounce ideas off one another, but the opportunity for fellowship among female peers. I can say that the WOO events are something I really look forward to and enjoy.”

Currently, in the Department of Ophthalmology Residency Training Program, nearly one-third of the residents are female. These residents are included in WOO events, giving young doctors the opportunity to interact with their faculty advisors and mentors on both a professional and personal level.  

This type of mentorship during the early stages of a career can be associated with career satisfaction and may guide the development of professional expertise for a young resident, and also prolongs the chances of helping others as a mentor during their own careers. It serves as an opportunity for residents to get to know physicians, researchers, and other medical professionals outside of the classroom.  

Pictured Above: A recent WOO dinner at a UAB Ophthalmology faculty member's home.