Volunteering in Action

Interested in volunteering with your national organization? We have many opportunities suited to many different interests. From working groups and committees to helping with research and writing of position statements, to the annual meeting planning committee, there is something for everyone!

Connect with us at [email protected] and put “I want to volunteer” in the subject line and we’ll help get you started.

Our volunteers speak out!

We asked COS members who currently volunteer time and expertise to COS, what volunteering means to them. We asked two questions: Why do you volunteer? and What value do you get from volunteering?

Why do you volunteer with COS?
I have really enjoyed volunteering with the COS Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Working Group as an avenue to meet ophthalmologists from around the country and learn more about a topic that I am deeply interested in. The working group members each bring rich lived experience and expertise to our meetings, and I leave each session feeling informed and empowered to bring new knowledge to my home community. I also deeply believe in the mission of the working group and feel proud to improve ophthalmology by creating more inclusive spaces for marginalized eyecare providers and patients. Moreover, the opportunity to work collaboratively with other ophthalmologists is valuable – our specialty is often a “solo sport”, and I am grateful to work on a team with diverse and inspiring individuals.

What value do you get from being a volunteer?
Volunteering with COS brings new perspectives to my work and allows for fun, collaborative meetings that add variety to my week. It’s fantastic to get to know others from across the country and I really look forward to seeing them at the annual COS meeting. I also feel lucky to be able to bring the knowledge I gain from the working group to my home institution so that we can continue to make positive changes in our local community.

Cody Lo, MD

Resident and Member
COS Practice Resource Centre Committee

Why do you volunteer with COS?
I volunteer with the COS as I find it rewarding to work on projects that can help advance our field on a national scale. It’s always motivating when I hear from trainees how initiatives led by the COS helped their professional development. I find the COS is always striving to better serve the various stakeholders within the field of ophthalmology.

What value do you get from being a volunteer?
As a Resident, volunteering with the COS has provided me valuable opportunities to develop my leadership skills and give back to our specialty. Through the COS, I’ve also been able to connect with many colleagues across the country. I am grateful for the chances I’ve had to work alongside and learn from many leaders in our field who I hope to emulate one day.

David Plemel, MD

Secretary, COS Board of Directors
Medical Liaison for COS Drug Shortages Initiative

Why do you volunteer with COS?
I started volunteering with COS just as I was finishing fellowship. A colleague encouraged me to get involved with one of the organization’s initiatives. While participating in that work, a position on the board opened. It was my first year in practice and, as a locum, I didn’t feel like I had much to offer the national group. However, a rural ophthalmologist told me about the meaning they derived from their time volunteering with the COS. I heard about how volunteering with the COS can lend a sense of community to those in solo or rural practice, how it expands the feeling of providing healthcare beyond what is possible in the clinic or operating room, and how young ideas are welcome. I volunteer with the COS because the organization is making a difference in Canadian eye care.

What value do you get from being a volunteer?
There have been many benefits. I have met, and get to volunteer with, an incredible group of ophthalmologists from across the nation. I have gained a deeper understanding about the different health systems and the pharmaceutical supply chains within Canada. The volunteering helps patients from across the country, many more than I could treat at work. And it is enjoyable; volunteering provides a sense of happiness into and of itself. Working with the COS is volunteering through a distinctly Canadian lens.

Setareh Ziai, MD

Liaison, Resident and Young Ophthalmologist Affairs
COS Board of Directors
Co-host of the EyeCan podcast

Why do you volunteer with COS?
I believe this is the best, and most important time to volunteer with the Canadian Ophthalmological Society. Given the sweeping changes we are seeing nationally with regards to private versus public healthcare, collaborative care and expansion of optometry care, post-pandemic shifts in clinical and surgical care and so much more, it was never a question of whether I would volunteer my time with the COS but rather, in what capacity. Not only is this organization the pulse of ophthalmology in Canada, but it is also chock-full of the most incredible, kind, caring and giving individuals. I can’t think of a better way to contribute to ophthalmological care in Canada. 

What value do you get from being a volunteer?
It is important to me to feel as though I am contributing to a cause bigger than myself, bigger than my own practice, bigger than my community. Volunteering with the COS allows me to contribute my specific skills to an outstanding organization, as well as to socialize with an incredible group of people. It also allows me to keep abreast of eye care setbacks and advancements on both a provincial and national level. I think that all ophthalmologists should try to get involved in some capacity, big or small, short-term or longer-term: we are stronger and better in numbers.

Not sure how to proceed?

Write to [email protected] and put “I want to volunteer” in the subject line and we’ll help get you started. We look forward to connecting with you!

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