Optometric leaders setting pace for future

Optometric leaders setting pace for future

Chris Wroten, O.D., past president of the Optometry Association of Louisiana, opens the 2015 Presidents' Council in St. Louis, Missouri, with an inspirational discussion about Sir Roger Bannister's attempt to break the four-minute mile.

Exceeding the status quo starts with a commitment to going the distance.

"It's only impossible if you say it is."

That's something the nearly 160 optometric leaders who attended the 2015 Presidents' Council meeting, Jan. 8-10 in St. Louis, Missouri, know a thing or two about. As does the man behind Forbes' greatest athletic accomplishment of the past 150 years, meeting moderator Chris Wroten, O.D., highlighted in an opening address.

Englishman Sir Roger Bannister's pursuit of the four-minute mile in the mid-20th Century was deemed an insurmountable feat by many, but one that ultimately fell in 1954 when Bannister crossed the finish line with a time of 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds—setting the world's first, sub-four-minute mile.

"He sacrificed, he was resilient when he failed before, but, ultimately, Bannister knew how to get across the finish line and knew he needed the help of others—all things we can take into consideration as we lead our state associations; not by limiting what we can accomplish by saying it's impossible," Dr. Wroten said.

"It's only impossible if you say it is."

Competitive advantage
State and affiliate optometric associations came together in this collaborative setting with a definitive goal of moving the profession forward.

With presentations from speaker Mary Byers, CAE, author of Road to Relevance: 5 Strategies for Competitive Associations, optometric leaders were challenged to confront the present-day pressures facing associations worldwide, such as the time crunch and generational differences. To meet those challenges, Byers suggested leaders:

  • Build on organizational strengths

  • Concentrate resources

  • Ensure consistency and fit with programs

  • Strategically plan for the future

"If you always do what you've always done, you will always get what you've always got," Byers said.

Apprising colleagues of updates
Presidents' Council not only offered networking opportunities for state associations, the Armed Forces Optometric Society and the American Optometric Student Association to exchange ideas with one another, but also affords the chance for leaders to hear from the AOA and its volunteers.

In roundtable settings, optometric leaders queried AOA volunteers including the executive committee, membership and advocacy chairs about subjects of importance to each association's membership.

Meeting attendees were also given updates on AOA projects and initiatives during both an update from AOA President David A. Cockrell, O.D., and a 'fireside chat' session with Jon Hymes, AOA executive director, and Renee Brauns, AOA associate executive director. Some of those topics included:

  • Optometry's public awareness. Through three separate initiatives, the AOA is helping bring enhanced visibility to optometry. Dr. Cockrell highlighted the robust national ad campaign, Think About Your Eyes (TAYE), which has reached 120 million Americans since July 2013 and directed prospective patients to AOA members participating in the TAYE 'doctor locator' feature. Dr. Cockrell cited the ongoing success of the Optometry Awareness and Public Affairs Campaign, as well as the rethink eyecare initiative that educates payers on the advantages of using ODs for primary eye and vision care.

  • Optometric registry. The registry allows for detailed collection of data, designed to bolster EHRs and make it easier for ODs to participate in meaningful use requirements, Hymes said. It's a project only offered by the AOA and one that "will be a key tool for doctors going forward, and one to be offered as a member benefit."

  • Updates on legislative priorities. Hymes pointed out "this is a tough environment for health care" legislation with not only a stalemate in Congress, but also a vast portion of newly elected officials. However, bills pertaining to the Health Service Corps and covered services will continue to be discussed throughout this year. Both will have an enhanced focus at the upcoming AOA Congressional Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C., April 12-14.

    January 20, 2015

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