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.

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Private Practice and a Mediterranean Feast


P1080232Recently, a group of students in the Private Practice Club (PPC) at UIWRSO were generously treated to dinner by Dr. Fashid Amir and Dr. Nancy Amir,   Both doctors are faculty at UIWRSO and have a lot of experience in private practice so we took this opportunity to discuss business management in optometry with them.

Dr. Nancy Amir recommended meeting at the Darna Restaurant because the flavor reminds her more of the taste of Egypt growing up. I have tried Persian breakfast, but this was my first full-on family style Mediterranean feast.  PPC President, Jacklyn Alaquinez, did an amazing job setting this up. 

We initially offered to pay for this event and arrange a location, but the guest doctors would not have it that way.  Perhaps, it is because they are teachers that they understand the importance of this dinner to the PPC. They knew exactly where we are coming from and would tell stories that quenched our thirst for knowledge.

We started with a quick intro – name, year, what mode of practice are you interested in, and where do you want to practice? 

I have shadowed quite a few modes of practice when I was at UCLA,from eye surgery in The Jules Stein Eye Institute to a private practice in Hollywood and in a free clinic.  I came in with the intention of doing pediatric optometry, but now that I’m learning more and more about the optometric profession, there are so many other possibilities to consider.

Dr. Nancy Amir, told her story about getting involved with Low Vision and how much patience is needed; she really likes what she does because it fits her personality and the pace that she likes to practice. They stressed the importance of choosing a mode of practice that would make you happy. Dr. Fashid Amir recommended buying a private practice and wrote all over a take-out box breaking down the numbers for us.

He suggested that a new grad should gain more experience before trying to take the reins of a booming private practice. The Amirs, wanted us to think about location, namely, where do we want to live? Will our families be happy? I could not fathom the amount of information– relevant, personal, practical– that I have taken away from hearing them talk.

I was delighted and grateful to be a part of this experience. I must add, their wisdom was infinite.

I can ramble on and on about the Amir’s tips on business management in optometry, thankfully we get some training in our program, but any business classes you can take would also help.  All in all, I highly recommended  a sit-down dinner with optometry faculty, to get to know them. I learned a great deal meeting with faculty in a setting that is more comfortable.  It helped us ask more questions in an informal setting, that maybe we were too afraid to ask in class.

P1080236And why not try delicious Mediterranean food while you are at it!