Excerpted from page 5 of the November/December 2019 edition of AOA Focus.
If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. This proverb is likely familiar to anyone who's spent time in a membership organization, and it truly speaks volumes about my own passion for AOA membership. As I've said before, membership is a driving factor in my presidency—connecting with our colleagues wherever and however we can—because we have power when we work together, as one.
AOA membership is strong—but we need all doctors and future doctors to join in and get engaged. I know that when I connect with individual doctors and talk to them about the importance and value of membership, a light goes off and they come into the fold.
It's a no-brainer: AOA members earn 7% higher incomes than nonmembers. That's attributable not only to the wide array of resources the AOA offers or the 24/7/365 public awareness that drives patients to our doors, but also the pure value of connection. I'm talking about the professional networking opportunities gained from meetings and conferences, and the ability to volunteer, contribute and tap into the vast network representing America's leading and influential doctors of optometry that are invaluable to career growth.
But it bears repeating that optometry is a legislated profession, and the AOA and its affiliates fight these battles on our behalf. This advocacy is done by the few for the benefit of the many, and that's why your membership helps make a difference. In other words: There's strength in numbers.
Not many people realize how incredibly involved our AOA is with federal agencies and these national conversations that shape our practices and communities. It's only through our vast membership that the AOA's voice carries the weight it does. And that's the case now as we support our colleagues in VA optometry.
Attacks against the standard of care provided by VA doctors of optometry come in many forms, from remote imaging that de-emphasizes the doctor-patient relationship to attempts to deprioritize optometric care altogether. Any change in our ability to practice in the VA system or elimination in much-sought-after VA residencies can and will have a trickle-down effect across the profession.
So, the AOA stands with AFOS and our federal colleagues to fight back, because we're all in this together. Join with us to move our profession forward.
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Given the doors that were once closed and are now open to women and people of color in society, it might be expected that the faces of optometry would reflect the changing demographics of the nation. And with the nation’s reckoning over social injustice in 2020 stirring anew concerns over diversity and inclusiveness, the profession is asking whether optometry reflects the nation’s changing demographics—and why should that matter?