If I Had To Do It
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
be a homebody. Broaden your professional knowledge at national conferences.
By Rhonda Robinson,
DO YOU TEND TO STICK close
to home? I certainly did. I grew up in Indianapolis. I went to school in Indiana.
And I practice optometry in Indianapolis. For years, I even got all of my continuing
education credits in Indianapolis, usually at our state conference. Then I started
working as an educational consultant for a contact lens manufacturer and began traveling
to optometry schools all over the United States and Canada. One year into that eye-opening
experience, I had another one: I attended my first national conference.
At the 1999 meeting of the American Academy of
Optometry in Seattle, I discovered a world I never knew so much excitement,
so much to learn and so many colleagues to meet. This meeting was a pivotal event
Today, I attend and often speak at almost every regional and national
optometry meeting. The experience is still fun and stimulating. That's why I urge
all O.D.s, as well as optometry students, to attend these meetings whenever possible.
Here's just a sampling of what you'll find.
So Much to Learn
In Seattle, I knew immediately there was more
to attending a national meeting than I'd ever imagined, including:
Education. The quantity and variety
of educational opportunities are unmatched. You'll hear talks by nationally and
internationally known speakers who may not make it to your local area. You'll also
find classes to match your interest.
Exhibits. You'll see all the latest
technologies and learn how to use them during hands-on sessions at each manufacturer's
booth. Optometry schools and a wide spectrum of employers also have recruitment
People. You'll meet colleagues from
all over the country and find out how they practice. The atmosphere is congenial,
and attendees all wear name tags that include their city and state to get the conversation
moving. It's a great opportunity for everyone to network and widen our professional
Attending professional meetings will
get you outside the box, both physically and mentally.
Meet the Community
When you spend all day in your office, you tend
to think your problems are yours alone. When you get out there and talk to your
peers, you'll find out they're struggling with the same issues managed care,
staffing, scheduling and paying the bills. You'll feel better knowing you're approaching
certain problems the right way, and you'll get ideas for improvement.
Any opportunity you have to interact
with successful colleagues is a gift. Find people you've heard of, and ask for 20
minutes to chat. They'll be flattered, and you'll get expert information or advice,
and possibly open the door to a mentoring relationship that will last a lifetime
Think Global, Stay Local
If you're concerned about the cost of attending
a national conference, consider regional meetings near your practice. And remember
you can write off expenses associated with these meetings. As a student, you can
get a special rate, and may qualify for an industry grant.
My world expanded when I left my safe
zone of Indianapolis and yours will too when you travel. I'll see you at the next
Dr. Robinson practices
at Ossip-Robinson Optometry. A 1982 graduate of Indiana University School of Optometry,
she is a founder and the president of Women of Vision, a professional organization
for women in optometry (wovonline.org).
Optometric Management, Issue: March 2006