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Junior Member News - April, 2021

My experience as a junior member of the WAO
Dr. Lyda Cuervo-Pardo

Allergy and Immunology is a small community, which gives us the unique opportunity to get to know colleagues in our field and sometimes even make friendships with those we work with. I have enjoyed this aspect of our specialty since fellowship and transitioning to an attending role, it has made those connections with others in my field take an even more important meaning.

I currently work in an academic setting, as an Assistant Professor of Allergy and Immunology in the University of Florida in the Department of Medicine. Being the only allergist/immunologist attending taking care of adults in my hospital, I no longer have the opportunity to engage in meaningful discussion of cases with other colleges. I have found that being a WAO Junior member has allowed me to fill that need. Being a Junior member of the WAO has allowed me to meet experts in all areas of our field, to whom I now reach out to discuss challenging cases. I have also had the opportunity to help internal medicine residents interested in pursuing a career in allergy and immunology by facilitating rotations in other institutions where other junior members currently teach and work. As a junior member of the WAO, I became part of the upper airway disease committee and I am currently working in research project with other committee members as well as a consensus statement. I have also had the opportunity to become an active member of the (SLAAI) Latin American Society of Allergy and Immunology, which has been an amazing opportunity to discuss difference in our practices and discuss ongoing needs and strengths. In my case, it has been particularly exciting given that I am originally from Colombia.

This past year we all had to adapt to more virtual interactions. Having made connections with other members of the WAO all over the world, who live in different cities, countries and time zones, and already meet online, made the whole virtual process a little bit easier. I can’t deny that I miss the in-person National and International allergy and Immunology meetings, but I am hopeful that, as vaccination efforts continue to improve, we can all meet in the WAO meeting in Turkey in 2022.

As a Junior member, I invite those starting their career and actually at any point of it, to become an active member of our organization as a way not only to remain up to date with the newest developments in our field, advocate for our specialty and participate in research efforts, but also to interact with other colleagues and even make friends. I can proudly say some of my good friends are allergists!