AOA volunteers work on goals, strategies

AOA volunteers work on goals, strategies

AOA President Steven A. Loomis, O.D., speaks at the opening session of AOA's 2016 Volunteer Meeting.

Charged with advancing the profession and AOA initiatives, optometry's advocates didn't take long to get down to brass tacks for the AOA's 2016 Volunteer Meeting.

"The people here are the personal advocates for this profession."

More than 180 volunteers convened in St. Louis, Missouri, Feb. 5-6, to exchange ideas for programs, resources and direction that ultimately contribute to the AOA benefits and representation that members receive.

AOA President Steven A. Loomis, O.D., opened the meeting by providing volunteers with updates on a number of AOA priorities and achievements, including success of the Think About Your Eyes public awareness campaign in raising optometry's visibility to nearly 150 million Americans since July 2013; rollout of a new membership initiative in two pilot states; and an entreaty for continued support of the AOA-Political Action Committee (AOA-PAC) to ensure optometry's voice and the hard work of volunteers resounds on Capitol Hill.

"The people here are the personal advocates for this profession; you are the people who are out there day in and day out advocating for this profession," Dr. Loomis told volunteers. "What you do is leveraged throughout this profession in phenomenal ways."

5 important takeaways from the meeting
Current projects and workgroups aside, committees updated each other with noteworthy highlights, accomplishments and professional updates from the previous year and going forward, including:

  1. Advocacy committees provide legislative, third party updates.
    Advocacy committee volunteers urged doctors' continued push among their legislators for the Dental and Optometric Care Access Act, H.R. 3323; the National Health Service Corps Improvement Act, H.R. 1312/S.898; and the Veterans' Affairs optometric residencies amendment, H.R. 1688. The group highlighted ongoing work in states seeing unilateral pricing policy (UPP) legislation; continued messaging on vision services available at community health centers; and a call to action for more members in the AOA Keypersons Network.
  2. Clinical resources committees note accomplishments.
    Among other updates, the clinical resources group highlighted the Contact Lens & Cornea Section's "Join the Fight Campaign," an initiative by the Contact Lens Watchdog Group, to expose illegal contact lens sales at 83 online sites and 19 establishments; the Sports Vision Section delivered 12 schools and colleges of optometry with sports-vision kits; the Vision Rehabilitation Section highlighted its Brain Injury Electronic Resource Manual Vol. 1B; and the Evidence-Based Optometry committee issued a request for reviewers once the Pediatric Eye and Vision Examination guideline is ready for peer and public review in the coming weeks.
  3. AOA MORE deadline approaching.
    By enrolling in AOA MORE (Measures and Outcomes Registry for Eyecare) by Feb. 29, 2016, doctors demonstrate intent to use AOA MORE as their specialized data registry for the 2016 EHR Incentive Program year (reporting in 2017) and will meet the public health objective for specialized registry reporting. Click here to read more about the deadline and additional PQRS advantages.
  4. Meetings Center talks Boston.
    Optometry's Meeting®, June 29-July 3, is in Boston this year with new, innovative formats for continuing education, designed to provide an unparalleled experience. Click here to read more about this year's keynote speaker and entertainment, and be on the lookout for registration and housing opening soon.
  5. Paraoptometric Group offers updates.
    With more than 10,000 paraoptometrics enrolled as AOA associate members by more than 2,900 AOA member-doctors, the Paraoptometric Resource Center Executive Committee stressed the importance of the Paraoptometric Career Ladder educational tool with more than 1,000 downloads since its launch in June 2015. The career ladder is one of many member benefits designed for paraoptometric staff to gain job proficiency across six staff responsibilities.

Interacting with committees throughout the meeting, Dr. Loomis noted he found groups of hard-working individuals who were serious about accomplishing their tasks at hand and were committed to moving the profession forward.

"The work done this weekend, the ideas generated and the accomplishments that we've reported will both accomplish the AOA's priorities set out over these past few months, as well as certainly shape our future priorities."

February 10, 2016

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