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!

 

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).

Online Resources for Optometry Students

There are many optometry-related online resources that I have used throughout optometry school.  A few of the ones that I have found most helpful and have used the most are below.

AOA Compass

AOA Compass_Fotor

AOA Compass is a resource available to AOA/AOSA members.  It provides a step-by-step guide for optometry students and new practitioners to help them complete necessary steps before practicing optometry.  It also provides information on different resources available to help optometry students and new practitioners transition from school to practice, including career resources and student loan repayment options.

The current listed steps are:

  1. Join the AOA/AOSA
  2. Explore Advocacy
  3. Register for NBEO Part I
  4. Prepare for NBEO Part I
  5. Register for NBEO Part II
  6. Prepare for NBEO Part II
  7. Explore Career Opportunities
  8. Consider a Residency
  9. Determine Practice Modality
  10. Find a Practice Opportunity
  11. Determine/Change Your Legal Name
  12. Register for NBEO Part III
  13. Pass NBEO Part III
  14. Planning Student Loan Repayment
  15. Apply for State Licensure
  16. Transition AOA Membership
  17. Become an InfantSEE and VISION USA Provider
  18. Obtain an NPI Number
  19. Prepare for Practice
  20. Obtain Professional Liability Insurance
  21. Register with the DEA
  22. Explore Continuing Education & Stay Up-To-Date with AOA Publications
  23. Consider Board Certification
  24. Join Allied Organizations

Each step has detailed information and useful links to help with completion of the step.  Members are able to update the status of each step to reflect the progress of completion using four different statuses:  To Do, In Progress, Finished!, or NA.  There is also a Total Progress status bar that shows the percentage of completion of all steps and an option to add typed notes to each step.  Members can access the site by using their AOA login information.

OptometryStudents.com

OptometryStudents_Fotor

About:  “OptometryStudents.com is your #1 resource for optometry student life!  The website hosts top notch articles, news, videos and clinical pearls which are all created by optometry student journalists from each optometry school.  OptometryStudents.com allows students to become more involved in optometry and to help move the profession forward.”

Mission:  “Using relevant content, OptometryStudents.com will keep current optometry students at the top of their game and attract the most motivated and determined pre-optometry students to enter the profession.  It will create more competitive applicants and, ultimately, better students.  Better students = better O.D’s = a better optometric profession.”

I have visited the website to read articles on clinical pearls and tips for studying for board exams, among other things.  Some articles on the website related to UIWRSO include:

EyeDock

EyeDock_Fotor

About:  “EyeDock.com is the leading online clinical reference for eye care professionals, featuring a searchable contact lens and ocular pharmaceuticals database, an ICD-9 lookup, and clinical calculators to streamline contact lens prescribing.  Founded in 2003 by two optometrists in clinical practice, EyeDock.com has about 3,000 subscribers.

A subscription to EyeDock.com is less expensive than the leading printed contact lens reference, yet is updated more frequently, and offers more features like advanced search functions and a companion application for the iPhone.”

EyeDock is my most used iPhone app in clinic to look up medications and contact lenses and for vertex conversion.  EyeDock generously provides coupon codes for complimentary subscriptions to optometry students and faculty members.