Be involved

July 27, 2018
An open letter to new doctors of optometry.
Samuel D. Pierce, O.D.

Excerpted from page 5 of the July/August 2018 edition of AOA Focus.

New doctors: Welcome to the next phase of your professional journey.

This journey started the day you chose optometry as your career, and now it continues as you choose your mode of practice, whether it be in federal service, academics, small private practice, large group practice, corporate practice, industry or some other unique opportunity. Wherever your path takes you, don't forget the practice of optometry is a privilege granted by each state by virtue of an act or law, signed by the governor. Where doctors of medicine practice with what we call a plenary license, or unrestricted license, doctors of optometry practice in most states with restricted licenses because the laws that govern optometry were historically written to be inclusive in nature—they included all the things you could do, and you are excluded from doing anything else.

Such laws inhibit the evolution of the profession. We have a health care system where technology advances, and doctors of optometry find themselves educated and trained but unable to perform certain procedures because it is illegal for them to do so. To overcome this, we need you.

My request of you is to be involved. Join your local society, state association, and maintain your membership with the AOA. Go to your society meetings, state and regional meetings and Optometry's Meeting®. Pay your dues—they are an investment in your career and your future. And when the time comes and you are asked to serve on a committee, say, "Yes, I'd be honored to."

The future of the profession is in great hands—your hands. The prospects for the future are tremendous. Demographic projections are definitely in your favor as the demands for eye care continue to grow. Optometry is perfectly poised to meet those demands.

The successful future of the profession doesn't lie in the practices of the past, but in the ability to embrace new technologies that are evidence-based and maintain or even raise the standard of care for our patients.

Eye care must be embedded in health care; it can no longer be segmented out like an afterthought. We know from our education and experience that far too many systemic diseases have ocular implications and manifestations, and many systemic diseases can be diagnosed for the first time during an eye exam. It's what we do. It's what we've been trained to do. And we're amazing at it!

So continue to be amazing! Amaze your patients, amaze your family and amaze the world. Be involved.

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