Article Date: 4/1/2008

My Presidency
reflections
THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY

My Presidency

Several learning experiences have increased my pride in my chosen profession.

KEVIN L. ALEXANDER, O.D., PH.D.
BIG RAPIDS, MICH.

My term as American Optometric Association (AOA) president has presented me with a unique perspective on the profession of optometry and its practitioners.

I have learned many things that have increased my pride in my chosen profession; the following observations strike me as the most significant as my presidency draws to a close.

American optometry

Through my travels, I have been very impressed with the commitment and drive exhibited by individual AOA members — particularly those state presidents and officers who are elevating the quality of eyecare delivery, while, at the same time, advancing our profession.

My international travels have shown me that optometrists around the world admire optometry in the United States. In fact, North American optometry appears to serve as a model for countries where our profession is striving for recognition or working to expand its scope of services.


ILLUSTRATION BY JOHN LABBE

The fine line of leadership

I have learned that leadership in a national organization walks a fine line between doing what members want to have done and educating members as to what must be done to prepare for inevitable change. (Continued competence and board certification are two such issues).

Also, I have observed that frustration exists when the AOA and the state affiliates appear to be unable to influence changes in the industry that some might find unacceptable. The AOA is not a union. As a result, we, and our affiliates cannot organize boycotts or strikes. As a professional association, we strive to improve the quality of eye care through the advancement of our profession.

Family ties

While we may have our differences of opinion, I have also found that our profession is very much like a family. We all understand the need to unite and advance optometry, despite differing views — especially when we are faced with challenges that come from outside our profession, such as managed care.

Proud accomplishments

Some areas of accomplishment at the AOA of which I am very proud:

► Establishing the National Commission on Vision and Health.

► Stepping up our federal advocacy and increased financial contributions to the AOA Political Action Committee (PAC).

► Optometry's increased media presence as the result of the efforts of our public-relations firm Hill and Knowlton.

► Increased participation in InfantSEE.

► Selection of a new executive director.

► Working with the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO), the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry (ARBO), the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) and the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) on continued competence through the Joint Board Certification Project Team.

► The formation of Optometry's charity. OM


DO YOU HAVE A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE? DISCUSS YOUR STORY WITH JENNIFER KIRBY, SENIOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR OF OPTOMETRIC MANAGEMENT, AT (215) 643-8139, OR -KIRBYJ@LWWVISIONCARE.COM. OM OFFERS AN HONORARIUM FOR PUBLISHED SUBMISSIONS.

Optometric Management, Issue: April 2008