First RSO student appointed a National Liaison Position with AOSA

asco

I applied to be a national liaison (NL) because I wanted to be more involved with the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA). A national liaison represents an allied association within the AOSA, much like how the American Optometric Association (AOA) has members for their allied optometric association. An allied association may focus on a specialty like sports vision, InfantSEE program, optometry in public health, etc.

It was an exciting moment when I got the email from the AOSA President 2015-6, Hunter Chapman, saying that I was selected for the student national liaison for the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). In fact, I was the first person from RSO to be selected for a NL position. This year only 15 students were selected from the nationwide optometry student applicant pool to be liaisons of: ASCO, AAO, APHA, NBEO, COVD, OEP, CLS, and etc. Read more about NLs and their respective allied organizations here: http://www.theaosa.org/about/2015-16-allied-associations-and-national-liaisons/

I would also like to talk about the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). Prior to my position, I had no idea that this organization was in charge of the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) among other things. ASCO  is the academic leadership organization committed to promoting, advancing and achieving excellence in optometric education. ASCO represents all accredited schools and colleges of optometry in the fifty states and Puerto Rico. ASCO’s affiliate members include the Canadian schools of optometry, other foreign schools, allied organizations, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. ASCO’s activities also cover a wide range of programs including applicant development and diversity, faculty and executive development, advocacy, residency promotion, data development and communications. Since joining in on ASCO’s meeting, I have discovered how broad optometry education really is. Please read more about ASCO 0n their website: http://www.opted.org/

RSO gives a 1 week break in the summer so that students can go to Optometry’s Meeting. This year Optometry’s Meeting took place in Seattle, Washington. I knew that our school has always supported RSO students who engaged in extracurricular activities. However, our Dean, Dr. Wingert, also actively partakes in leadership roles. It was no surprise that he was the current chair of the ASCO Student Affairs Committee. The members of ASCO include the optometry school Deans and Presidents, who meet a few times a year via phone conference call, emails, and/or in person at big meetings such as Optometry’s Meeting to discuss the long list of ASCO activities listed above. Deans can also run for leadership positions within the different committees in ASCO. During this meeting each committee leader would present their updates and progress of their group. I had the honor to present to all the Deans about AOSA. I won’t lie, it was nerve racking. However after the presentation I received warm comments from Dr. Wingert (RSO Dean) and Dr. Buzzelli (Past RSO Dean, Current Dean of the University of Pikeville, College of Optometry).

Deans convene in ASCO meeting!
Deans convene in ASCO meeting!

 

I would also like to congratulate Mr. Marty Wall, MPA, CAE and ASCO outgoing-Executive Director for his many years of service. It was a pleasure to meet such a wonderful person and great leader.

A luncheon was held in honor of Mr. Wall's service to ASCO and the field of optometry!
A luncheon was held in honor of Mr. Wall’s service to ASCO and the field of optometry at OM15!

 

AOA Visits UIWRSO

The AOA (American Optometric Association) is one of the most important organizations an optometrist can join in their lives. AOA advocates for the rights of optometrists throughout the country in their scope of practice, use of prescription drugs, etc. Many UIWRSO students participate in this organization through AOSA (American Optometric Student Association). Here, students are able to see how important it is to get involved in the law aspect of optometry. Our school’s AOSA chapter was able to hold a special presentation with one of the top officers for the AOA, Dr. Andrea Thau.

Dr. Andrea Thau was elected to the Board of Trustees of AOA in 2007. She currently has a practice and is an associate clinical professor at SUNY State College of Optometry. She is a founder of the AOA’s InfantSEE program and has served as the first woman president of the New York State Optometric Association, the New York Academy of Optometry, and the Optometric Society of the City of New York. She has lectured and appeared on national TV, radio, and print, spreading word about eye and vision care. UIWRSO was privileged enough to hear what Dr. Thau had to say about the AOA and our involvement in the organization as upcoming optometrists.

Dr. Thau emphasized that our future involvement in AOA is critical. She owns a practice, has a family, but still manages to be a board member of AOA. This involves hours and hours of time, travel, and presentations, not to mention being able to sit before Congress and fight for our rights as optometrists. She said that she is a second generation optometrist; her father really inspired her to love and fight for her profession.

She gave us a idea of what it would be like without the AOA: the potential exists that we could lose all our rights to being called a doctor, other professions might be able to prescribe and undermine our work, online companies might be able to dispense without a prescription, etc. This would all spell out bad news for our future as optometrists. Other professionals are battling everyday to get the rights we have taken away and AOA is there to fight back.

She also mentioned how AOA members work with politicians and support them to help get laws passed for optometrists. Using the TOA (Texas Optometric Association) or AOA will help future doctors if they have aspirations for holding office. She also talked about how doctors who are AOA members make an average of $22,000 more than those who aren’t members. This might have something to do with the fact that they help first-year doctors with malpractice insurance, life insurance, and even pay for your AOA fees during your first year out of school. Additionally, Dr. Thau showed us a video clip of how many people AOA reaches a year through it’s use of media.

Before watching this presentation, I was not an AOSA member. After attending the meeting, however, it has inspired me to not only become a member, but stay a member and perhaps run for the Board of Trustees at some point. Like Dr. Thau said, it’s not only our right, but it is our duty to continue the fight for optometry and the future optometrists of America.

To learn more about what the AOA is doing for optometry right now, check out their website: http://www.aoa.org/advocacy-x423?sso=y

AOA 1 AOA 2 AOA 3 AOA 4 AOA 5 AOA 6 AOA 7 AOA 8 AOA 9 AOA 10 AOA 11 AOA 12 AOA 13 AOA 15

 

A special thank you to Dr. Narayanan for providing the following pictures: 

AOA 20

 

AOA 21

Politically Involved as an Optometry Student

IMG_20150128_122855
Left to Right: Duc Tran, Denisse Lopez, Reid Cluff, and Dr. Narayanan.

As an optometry student, I admired how the InfantSEE®/Optometry Cares program was established by optometrists lobbying and networking with U.S. politicians.  InfantSEE is just one of the many feats that the AOA – American Optometric Association have made possible to the public and demonstrated support for optometrists. In hopes of becoming a part of the legislative activity, I became an officer of the Student Texas Optometric Association (STOA).  It was my goal to take an active role in the political association that opens doors for optometrists as well as improves the visual welfare of the people. At the Texas Optometric Association (TOA) board meetings, I was very impressed by the leadership and organization that the executive board possessed and they taught me the importance of proper communication with other leaders (I’ll talk more about the TOA and STOA in future blogs). Today, I would like to blog about the active political student leaders at our schoolIMG_20150128_123000 .

The UIWRSO trustees of AOSA – American Optometric Student Association, Denisse Lopez and Reid Cluff; are not only academically outstanding, but represent our school in Optometry’s Meeting and the AOSA Board of Trustees meeting. They connect RSO students to the other optometry students across the US, Canada and Puerto Rico via the AOSA Board of Trustees. In addition to expanding their network, the trustees also write about their school, for example, Denisse has published multiple articles in the AOSA Foresight magazine. The trustees also meet with industry leaders and hold events at RSO to fundraise and support students. Lastly to update RSO with what AOSA is doing and vice versa, the trustees attend monthly meetings and communicate directly with the RSO Student Government Association and Dean.

AOA-PAC is the American Optometric Association – Political Action Committee.  It is a subdivision of the AOA that focuses in fighting for pro-optometric laws. AOA-PAC does not have a local chapter at RSO. It is solely a national organization that has local liaisons assisting in its outreach programs. To support AOA in its political activism, Duc Tran, UIWRSO Class of 2015 and AOA-PAC Liaison, led a luncheon meeting for students to learn about optometric advocacy, where he discussed details regarding the Congressional Advocacy Conference (CAC) in Washington, DC in April 12 – 14, 2015. Duc attended the CAC meeting last year and shared with us his journey talking to politicians with optometric activists.

I’m glad that I have met such great friends and colleagues at UIWRSO, and the message that I would like to share is that optometry school is not just about your current coursework, but the start to your career and begin building your professional network. Your school’s Student Optometric Association is linked to the State Optometric Association which is connected to the American Optometric Association. By getting involved at school, you can open many doors along the way, just like it has for me!

AOA InfantSEE Event at UIWRSO

Dr. Wingert, Mrs. Benne, Dr. Steele
Dr. Wingert, Mrs. Benne, Dr. Steele

On Friday, Sept. 26 at 6:00 pm, UIW Rosenberg School of Optometry hosted an AOA InfantSEE Event in the UIW Rosenberg Sky Room. Dr. Maki, UIWRSO Professor, and Mrs. Benne, UIWRSO Assistant Dean, have worked hard to plan a wonderful evening with Dr. Steele and Tom Sullivan. The purpose of this event was to raise awareness for InfantSEE:

InfantSEE®, a public health program, managed by Optometry Cares® – the AOA Foundation, is designed to ensure that eye and vision care becomes an essential part of infant wellness care to improve a child’s quality of life. Under this program, participating optometrists provide a comprehensive infant eye assessment between 6 and 12 months of age as a no-cost public service.  Read more about InfantSEE here.

Dr. Wingert started off the event with the Dean’s Welcome and left the crowd wanting to hear more about the program. He then passed the microphone to Dr. Steele, AKA Dr. Bubba of Southern College of Optometry (SCO). Dr. Steele’s lecture presentation almost reminded me of class. I really liked how he used case examples of  how an optometrist helped the pediatric patients via the InfantSEE program, in fact, we learned of how the program saved lives. Dr. Glen Steele, OD, FCOVD, FAAO is the current chair of the AOA’s InfantSEE program; his passion for raising awareness is so strong that he travels to multiple optometry school to speak about the InfantSEE program. With his strong educational background and southern humor, I truly enjoyed his message and took it to heart.

After Dr. Steele gave a warm introduction to InfantSEE, he brought Tom Sullivan on stage. He was blind since shortly after birth, but Tom

Mr. Tom Sullivan
Mr. Tom Sullivan

is an award winning actor, author and composer dedicated to spreading a message of hope and inspiration for overcoming adversity. He created a hilarious motivational program for the optometry students or as he calls us “Young Future Doctors;” He taught as to nurture our passion for optometry and the importance of public health initiatives such as the InfantSEE program. Mr. Sullivan shared his childhood, his ups and downs, but what I took away most was understanding the stigma that a blind person faces everyday. I went into optometry wanting to help people with their vision, but it wasn’t until this night that I understood the amount of impact that a pediatric eye exam can have. I was motivated and the passion he brought to stage resonated with the audience as they roared with laughter or listened in silence. Never have a heard a speaker, sing, cry, scream, and educate so well; It was an unforgettable night!

The event ended with a dessert reception. Dr. Steele and Mr. Tom Sullivan walked around the reception to talk to the students and faculty of UIWRSO. It was a great event that was made possible by UIWRSO in collaboration with Allergan and the AOA (American Optometric Association).

Student’s Role in the Texas Optometric Association

How TOA helped developed my networking and leadership skills

2014-2015 Texas Optometric Association Executive Committee and Board of Trustees
2014-2015 Texas Optometric Association Executive Committee and Board of Trustees. (Left: Dr. Valdez and Dr. Fortenberry are UIWRSO Faculty)

My political optometry involvement grows concurrently with my public health efforts. I am drawn to the legislative side of optometry because many life changing vision programs like the InfantSEE® program was established due to optometrists lobbying and networking with state representatives and senators.

I’ve been to multiple optometry board meetings with the Texas Optometric Association (TOA) and I would like to explain the organization of the optometric societies in America. Every state has a board that represents all the optometrist residing in that state. The board may include optometrists, public health advocates, administrators, accountants, membership directors, etc; together the board runs the association with or without dues from participating/supporting optometrists in the state. These optometric associations are formed to ensure that those who have earned the title of Doctor of Optometry have the opportunity to practice their profession to the fullest extent possible.

Many optometry students do timeline aoanot realize that the state optometric associations and the American Optometric Association (AOA) are closely connected. AOA board members will visit and sit in on the state meetings while state associations presidents gather at least twice a year at the Optometry’s Meeting or the Presidents’ Council Meeting. Also the student optometric associations at each school can support the state associations by encouraging students to lobby or educate fellow students about the laws that the state is trying to pass, as well as donate or pay dues to support their cause. Optometry students often join the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) and in doing so they are also supporting and a member of their state student optometric association. Before my experiences with the TOA, I had no idea that there is such an organized network that keeps our profession strong. If you would like to read more about the history of optometry please click here for a timeline.

 

I am an officer of the Student Texas Optometric Association (STOA) because I want to take an active part in the political association that opens doors for optometrists as well as improves the visual welfare of the people. Jason Ngo (President, STOA) and me (Treasurer/Secretary) are invited to the Texas Optometric Association board meetings to keep up to date about what the TOA board is planning and learned of their successes or what needs to be changed. I was impressed by the leadership and organization that they possessed; they are encouraging and positive when discussing their agenda and I can feel how their camaraderie fuels the team’s success! The board also taught me the importance of networking with other leaders. The board members would introduce themselves to us, and I’m grateful because I was really nervous at my first board meeting. I appreciate this opportunity to learn from these leaders. I would also like to mention that any optometry student in Texas can attend these board meetings if they let their STOA officers know in advance. I hope that optometry students can take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.

The Texas Optometric Association (TOA) mission statement: “Doctors of Optometry working together to advance excellence in eyecare for every Texan.” To show our support, the UIWRSO STOA created hoodies that incorporates the TOA mission statement.

photo 5 (640x640)

____________________________________________________________________________________

References:

http://www.aoa.org/?sso=y
http://fs.aoa.org/optometry-archives/optometry-timeline.html
http://www.theaosa.org/
http://www.coavision.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3282
http://www.infantsee.org/
http://texas.aoa.org/x7042.xml