Article Date: 2/1/2002

o.d. to o.d.
Practice Management University Continues
A partnership between profession and industry that works.
BY NEIL B. GAILMARD, O.D., M.B.A., F.A.A.O., Chief Optometric Editor

Good news for your practice -- the American Optometric Association's (AOA's) Practice Management University (PMU) will soon offer all new course topics across the country as it enters Phase II. Thousands of practices have already benefited from this program, and the AOA deserves credit for developing it.

The history of the program is quite interesting. In 1998, several AOA leaders, most notably Drs. Harvey Hanlen, Howard Braverman, David Nelson and Irving Bennett, conceived the idea of PMU. It's a brilliant example of how our profession can work with the ophthalmic industry to help practitioners and the patients we serve. I've been privileged to chair the program since its inception.

The concept

During the early development of PMU, an AOA officer quoted President Kennedy, who once said, "A rising tide raises all boats." The concept was (and still is) to help optometrists grow their practices by improving their management skills. And, of course, if optometric practices do better, then the industry does better as well. And if practices are more advanced and efficient, the eyecare receiving population does better too.

Industry was just as important in the equation as was the AOA. The AOA has a forum to meet and communicate with the leading companies in eye care, collectively called the Ophthalmic Council. The presidents and CEOs of major corporations meet with AOA officers and members of the AOA Industry Relations Committee regularly. The industry participants agreed to fund the PMU program with an educational grant.

Initial success

PMU has some unique characteristics that make it work. First, it partnered further with state optometric associations to promote and administer the courses. Second, it was designed for both doctors and staff members, because technicians and receptionists play such a vital role in practice success. Phase I was attended by 5,800 eyecare professionals. The program received high course evaluation scores, and it was even honored with an award for excellence in education by the Vision Council of America (VCA).

Phase II

In Phase II, we wanted to take the program from Practice Management 101 to a more advanced and specialized level. PMU II, which may be integrated into existing state meetings, offers 68 different courses, taught by 25 of the best lecturers in the country.

While still practice management-oriented, states may now select all new speakers and course topics ranging from ocular disease practice to optical dispensing.

Thank you to industry

I acknowledge the generous support PMU II has received from the following Ophthalmic Council participants: Alcon Laboratories, Inc.; Allergan; Bausch & Lomb; Biocompatibles Eyecare, Inc.; CIBA Vision Corporation; Essilor of America, Inc.; Laser Diagnostic Technologies, Inc.; Marchon Eyewear, Inc.; Signet Armorlite, Inc.; The Luxottica Group; Vision Service Plan; Vistakon of The Americas; and Younger Optics.

PMU II will provide management training in all new specialty areas. Find out when it will be held in your state this year and take your staff.

Welcome New Editor

It's my pleasure to introduce Jim Thomas, our new executive editor at OM. Jim brings a wealth of talent and experience to OM. He has a journalism degree from Temple University, where he also serves as an adjunct professor. He was an editor for various business magazines with Cahners publishing and worked as an independent writer and consultant.

Welcome aboard, Jim!


Optometric Management, Issue: February 2002