Without AOA-member volunteers, the profession and the AOA wouldn't be as successful as they are today, AOA President Christopher J. Quinn, O.D., told attendees during the kickoff of the AOA's 2018 Volunteer Meeting on Feb. 2.
It's doctors of optometry—filled with passion and professional pride—who help guide the AOA's direction, fund its operations and advocate on behalf of the profession. All while practicing top-level optometry, providing safe care to their patients and thwarting threats that undermine the profession and safe patient care.
About 200 doctors of optometry and AOA staff were on hand for the event in St. Louis—sponsored by Alcon, Johnson & Johnson Vision, Hoya Vision Care and Essilor—which brings together member leaders to strategize, reenergize and collaborate on new ideas for the year ahead. The profession faces plenty of threats, Dr. Quinn told volunteers as the meeting opened.
"But problems are ultimately opportunities," said Dr. Quinn, thanking volunteers for their efforts. "It's our opportunity to move the profession forward. It's our opportunity to educate legislators, policy makers, patients, payors and health benefits managers of what optometry can do.
"The opportunity has never been greater for us to do that," he added. "And AOA is working hard to make sure we take advantage of the opportunity. Obviously, I think the future is extremely bright for our profession."
Takeaways from the Volunteer Meeting
- Think About Your Eyes campaign: Steven A. Loomis, O.D., AOA past president and recently elected chair of the campaign's advisory committee, noted that the nationwide Think About Your Eyes campaign had a banner year—driving 1.4 million patients to seek out doctors of optometry. Dr. Loomis noted that 41 of 50 states were supporting the campaign. "We need the other nine," he added. "If you're in one of those nine states, talk to your leadership." He called the campaign a win-win-win. "It's good for the patient," he said, "it's good for the doctor and it's good for industry."
- The AOA Political Action Committee: AOA-PAC Chair Joe Ellis, O.D., shared the good news that AOA donors had once again met a significant fundraising milestone and that the average member had upped their donation from the year before. But Dr. Ellis noted the greater impact the AOA could have with additional donations and from a wider group of givers. "I don't know how your state rolls, but I know how my state rolls," he said. "We want to be No. 1 in PAC or in the top five every year. If we do that, we are more politically effective."
- Federal Relations Committee: Clarke Newman, O.D, committee chair, reviewed the state of Federal Relations' advocacy efforts, including the AOA high-priority Dental and Optometric Care (DOC) Access Act (H.R 1606) which now has at least 75 cosponsors. He asked doctors to encourage their members of Congress to support the bill.
See why doctors of optometry volunteer their time to the AOA.
In a virtual kick-off, the AOA launches Leadership Institute with 130 doctors of optometry from across the country. A project of the AOA Leadership Development Committee, the Institute is a yearlong program designed to grow and support the next generation of leaders in the profession.
At the 2021 Leaders Summit, AOA-member volunteers set priorities for the year and launched new initiatives to lead the profession forward.