o.d. to o.d.
Banned From the Big
What does it mean when
ophthalmologists prohibit optometrists from attending their annual meeting?
WALTER D. WEST, O.D., F.A.A.O., Chief Optometric Editor
As many optometrists are now aware, the American
Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) distributed a "Member Alert" in which
it banned optometrists from attending any educational activities at its annual
meeting in New Orleans. To quote:
The American Academy of Ophthalmology does not
permit attendance or participation by optom etrists at any educational activity
at its Annual Meeting.
This ban was the result of a resolution passed by
the Board of Trustees of the AAO, acting on what they referred to as "the
resolute will of its Council."
The Alert continues, "Unfortunately,
non-members have attended these courses and then used their attendance as
arguments to legislatures to expand their scope of practice. The Academy Board
believes that using these educational events in such a manner is not in the
interest of the public or good patient care."
That pretty well sums it up. It seems that the
AAO believes that their meeting exists not to provide for the advancement of
science and knowledge in eye care, but to provide science and knowledge in eye
care to only their members.
The AAO also points out that "The Academy's
educational programs are developed for ophthalmologists who have the educational
basis of medical school, internship, and residency as a background for
understanding the knowledge that is presented during the Annual Meeting."
It amazes me that in 2004 the AAO continues to
operate under the misconception that theirs is the one and only path to
enlightenment and providing eye health and vision care in the United States.
You know too much
When I first read the Alert, I was stunned and
puzzled. As I read it again, I became more reflective. I thought of the
optometrists around the country who teach ophthalmology residents and the
optometrists that have presented at the AAO's Annual Meeting on a regular basis.
Then it dawned on me -- the AAO with their "ban" on optometrists
attending educational activities at their annual meeting has nothing to do with
our background and our understanding the knowledge that's presented, it's that
we understand it all too well.
This resolution by the Board of Trustees of the
AAO has nothing to do with the public or ensuring better patient care, it's
about optometry seeking, understanding and using our knowledge to expand the
scope of our practice, and in so doing, providing a higher level of care that is
in fact in the best interest of the public and good patient care.
Another AAO, another choice
Lucky for us, there is another academy, the
American Academy of Optometry. The American Academy of Optometry is not
"the other" academy -- it's our academy. It's an academy meeting where
those interested in the science of eye care can come together to teach as well
as to learn from any source of knowledge. I encourage optometrists to attend the
American Academy of Optometry and invite ophthalmologists as eyecare colleagues
to attend this important meeting.
Where the AAO has chosen to be exclusive, I
believe that optometry, our M.D. colleagues and the American Academy of
Optometry have far more to gain by being inclusive. Certainly our patients do.
Optometric Management, Issue: May 2004