Article Date: 4/1/2005

o.d. to o.d.
Promoting the Advancement of Optometry ...
... isn't the responsibility of one person or one organization. It takes the efforts of countless professionals, including you.
BY WALTER D. WEST, O.D., F.A.A.O., Chief Optometric Editor

It's early in the year and already I'm racking up more frequent flyer miles than should be allowed. I invest in travel, nights in hotels and meals alone to lecture. Yet I'm reminded that before any lecturer can stand at any podium at any meeting, there have been dozens, or perhaps hundreds, of people who work behind the scenes for months and years to make these events possible.

We don't often recognize the amount of effort put forth to promote our profession. Optometry has its promoters in the American Optometric Association, the American Academy of Optometry, state optometric associations, regional and national meetings and the list goes on. Each and every one of these organizations and meetings promote the advancement of optometry in various ways.

The vendor effect

Other organizations deserve mention as well. Optometry enjoys one of the greatest relationships with vendors in the eyecare industry. And we reap many benefits from this relationship. Vendors support optometrists both directly and indirectly -- through the sponsorship of organizations and meetings. Yet many of us don't understand or appreciate the scope of the financial and educational support that is provided.

Cheers for the volunteers

In addition, and perhaps more important, we have the officers and volunteers who are the hearts of their organizations and meetings. Throughout the year, these individuals regularly take time away from their practices to ensure the success of their organizations' activities.

I've always been impressed by the number of optometrists who have supported professional organizations and meetings through their commitment of time and talent. Many volunteer not just once or twice, but year after year. They're always ready to offer a hand to make things happen, whether it's the site selection process, the logistics, the development of the artwork and promotional efforts, coordinating the sponsorship, managing the exhibit hall, developing the program or greeting attendees as they enter the presentation rooms.

Another important variable of this effort to advance optometry extends to the members of organizations and attendees at meetings. These meetings provide an indispensible venue for learning about the many technological developments and advancements in eye care.

The learning (or lack of learning) is not, however, the way for the individual optometrist to play his role in advancing optometry. It isn't just about hearing the presentations or believing that the information is correct or innovative. In each practice, the way individual optometrists advance optometry is by implementing what they learn. Our profession advances only when you use your knowledge and skills to enhance the care of your patients.

Many thanks

So, thanks to those of you in industry who support optometry's meetings, those of you in optometry who give of your time and talent to make the organizations and meetings possible and last but not least, thanks to the individual optometrists who seek, attend, learn and implement -- for yours is perhaps the most critical element in the advancement of our profession.


Optometric Management, Issue: April 2005