Article Date: 11/1/2009

A Question For O.D. Groups: Who Do You Think You Are?
O.D. to O.D.

A Question For O.D. Groups: Who Do You Think You Are?

You must decide for yourself which organization will best represent your interests and opinions.

BY WALTER D. WEST, O.D., F.A.A.O., Chief Optometric Editor

Maybe you aren't aware of it, but two organizations want to represent you as an optometrist.

Of course, there's the American Optometric Association (AOA). The AOA has been around for a while, and it offers the following statement on its Web site:

Founded in 1898, the AOA is a federation of state, student and armed forces optometric associations. Through these affiliations, the AOA serves members consisting of optometrists, students of optometry, paraoptometric assistants and technicians.

Together, the AOA and its affiliates work to provide the public with quality vision and eye care. Through offices in St. Louis, Missouri, and metropolitan Washington, D.C., the AOA:

Sets professional standards, helping its members conduct patient care efficiently and effectively;
Lobbies government and other organizations on behalf of the optometric profession and
Provides research and education leadership.

The new kid

And now there's the American Optometric Society (AOS), the new kid on the block. Visiting the Society's Web site, we find:

The American Optometric Society was formed by, and represents the interests of optometrists throughout the United States. Its mission is to:

Monitor, protect, and improve the interests of optometrists and the optometric profession on local, state, and national levels;
Improve the quality and accessibility of optometric care available to the public;
Support and enhance education, competency, and excellence in optometry;
Ensure that licensed doctors of optometry, who have proven their competence and their ability to provide the highest quality optometric care, are properly recognized as such by the public, the profession, its regulators, third party payers, and the government, and that they are not excluded from programs available to the profession and third party payer plans; and
Establish, support, and recognize those who maintain the highest standards of excellence in the practice of optometry.

Specifically, The AOS is committed to giving its members a voice in their profession, supporting the common goals of its members and advocating for its members within other organizations. The American Optometric Society is an inclusive, transparent organization that works with local, regional and national optometric organizations. The AOS remains committed to the open communication with and the fair and equal representation of its members. Above all, the AOS is dedicated to excellence in patient care and the growth and expansion of optometrists' ability to serve the public.

Who should lead?

We must think about representation. I, personally, want to be represented by an organization that listens to me. I want to share the opinions and desires of the membership, rather than the leadership, and to drive the actions of the representing organization. I don't think I'm asking for something unreasonable. I merely want to be heard and represented.

That being said, I encourage you to think about this whole issue, and choose wisely. Who will represent you, your interests and opinions most effectively? Another question: Is your selection of your current representation a function of habit, complacency, or action? OM

Optometric Management, Issue: November 2009