Article Date: 12/1/2008

Membership Has Its Rewards
From the AOSA

Membership Has Its Rewards

As you move from the classroom to the clinic, consider joining the AOA to help ease your transition.

By Megan Moll
Treasurer, AOSA

UPON GRADUATION from optometry school, you automatically receive 18 months of complimentary membership to the American Optometric Association (AOA). But what happens after your 18 months are up? Between the economic crisis, student loans and trying to make a living in your new profession, an $800 membership fee may be hard to swallow. But I think the cost is justified by the extraordinary benefits of being an AOA member, such as joining a network of 36,000 of your colleagues in an organization that keeps the profession thriving.

Career Resources

Whether you're looking to start a career or expand your practice, AOA offers great career services. Optometry's Career Center (optometryscareercenter.org) is an excellent place to search for job opportunities or help you find potential candidates for positions you need to fill. All you have to do is sign up and start searching. AOA also offers a contract review service to help you assess job opportunities that come your way.

Meetings and More

As an AOA member, you can attend the annual Optometry's Meeting, where you can take continuing education courses, explore the latest and greatest products at the exhibit hall and relax with colleagues during general sessions.

Beyond the meeting, you can visit the AOA Web site or read AOA News or Optometry: Journal of the AOA. Also, the staff at the International Library, Archives, and Museum of Optometry (ILAMO) can help you find even more information on eye care.

AOA also provides patient education materials for your practice. If you're interested in a specialty area, there are multiple organizations stemming from AOA that offer information and support for specific therapeutic areas, including the Contact Lens and Cornea Section (CLCS), Low Vision Rehabilitation Section (LVR), Sports Vision Section (SVS) and the Paraoptometric Section (PS). There's also InfantSEE, a special program that allows you to provide free eye exams for babies less than 1 year old to help prevent future vision problems.

Bettering Your Bottom Line

As an optometrist, you'll want to receive the maximum reimbursement for the services you provide. AOA offers information on coding and billing, and a new Web tool (AOACodingToday.com), which provides tips on how to code and bill to get the most out of your exams.

AOA offers other ways to help you save money. From reduced fees for telephone service, to insurance for you and your staff, to retirement planning, AOA provides tools to build a successful practice. AOA also has a practice resource center, with information on how to manage and expand your practice.

Getting Into Government

Along with membership, you're invited to join AOA-PAC, a political action committee whose members work at a grass-roots level to secure and expand the practice of optometry. You can become involved in this organization, which helps define and secure the privileges and rights of being an optometrist.

Money Well Spent

So as you can see, with everything you get in return, $800 a year is a bargain! I encourage everyone on the fence to consider joining AOA—an organization that supports the career path you've chosen and offers tons of resources to help you further that career. nOD

Ms. Moll is treasurer of the AOSA. She's a fourth-year student at Southern College of Optometry. She attended Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University), with a concentration in chemistry. You can reach her at mmoll@sco.edu.


Optometric Management, Issue: December 2008