Driving change

October 24, 2018
Scope expansion is key to optometry’s future success. We need to continue to prepare to practice to the fullest extent of our education, training and experience.
Samuel D. Pierce, O.D.

In the 2006 comedy movie "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," the NASCAR-driving main character is trying to make a comeback on the racetrack. His con­fidence rattled, Ricky Bobby (played by Will Ferrell) recalls an inspiring bit of advice his father once told him: "If you ain't first, you're last."

"We will help state affiliates evaluate where they are, where they need to be and what needs to happen for doctors to practice to their fullest."

That line in the movie resonates with me as I picture the AOA's future, though I'd tailor the words to suit our profession. If optometry isn't ­first, it's last. This is why AOA advocates for scope expansion 24/7, 365, on behalf of our patients and the profession. Although the public's trust in doctors of optometry is high, we need to continue to prepare to practice to the fullest extent of our education, training and experience. Without doing so, we deprive patients of the care they richly need and deserve. 

The AOA is neither resting on its laurels nor spinning its wheels.  

In June, at Optometry's Meeting®, we announced a future practice initiative, a push to support states in their scope-expansion efforts. We will help state affiliates evaluate where they are, where they need to be and what needs to happen for doctors to practice to their fullest. 

We know every state is different, each with unique laws and state optometric boards structured in a variety of ways with a variety of scenarios for oversight and accountability. The grassroots relationships between the doctors of optometry and the multiple key members of state Houses and Senates must be built and nurtured over time. That's why the AOA's State Government Relations Center is so vital. The center provides important resources for state affiliates' political activities.  

Beyond supporting the AOA's efforts to expand scope, state law by state law, doctors of optometry can drive home our cause by practicing at the highest level of their education and training. Take continuing education courses that improve on your current training. Incorporate new procedures into your practice, such as ­fitting scleral lenses or using amniotic membranes to treat corneal wounds. Work more closely with other health care professionals. For instance, check patients' blood pressure and work with the primary care providers of those with hypertension to help lower their blood pressure. Embrace emerging technologies that raise the standard of care for patients; guard against those that don't. The more you know about these technologies, the easier it is to make changes in your practice to utilize the latest and future advances in patient care.  

Can you see the victory lane? I can.

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