AOA President Samuel D. Pierce, O.D., of Alabama, and other members of the AOA Board of Trustees were sworn into office Saturday, June 23, after elections during Optometry's Meeting® 2018 in Denver, Colorado.
The Board of Trustees helps establish AOA policy and advocates for the profession of optometry, both in state and federal governments, to help broaden optometry's scope of practice, protect and defend the profession, and expand the public's access to quality eye health and vision care.
"We have a lot to do, but optometry has always been ready to take it all on," Dr. Pierce said in his inaugural address, which focused on the AOA's future. "We will educate the public with our straightforward and direct message about the benefits of our eye examinations, the impact of our personalized care and the power of our early diagnosis of life-threatening and sight-threatening diseases and conditions."
Members of the 2018-2019 Board of Trustees are:
President: Samuel D. Pierce, O.D., (Alabama)
President-elect: Barbara L. Horn, O.D. (South Carolina)
Vice President: William T. Reynolds, O.D. (Kentucky)
Secretary-Treasurer: Robert C. Layman, O.D. (Ohio - newly elected)
Immediate Past President: Christopher J. Quinn, O.D., (New Jersey)
James P. DeVleming, O.D. (Washington — re-elected to serve)
Ronald L. Benner, O.D. (Montana — continuing to serve)
Steven T. Reed, O.D. (Mississippi — continuing to serve)
Jacqueline Bowen, O.D. (Colorado — re-elected to serve)
Fred Farias III, O.D. (Texas — continuing to serve)
Lori L. Grover, O.D., Ph.D. (Illinois — newly elected)
Future of optometry
After thanking family, friends and AOA members, Dr. Pierce spoke extensively about the future of optometry. Optometry's future, he noted, is about what is right for patients.
"So, what is right for our patients?" Dr. Pierce said. "What should the AOA be doing right now for the patients we see every day in our practices—whether it be in an independent, group or employer-practice environment or in an HMO or somewhere in the military or VA system?
"We need to continue the fight for access," he said. "Doctors of optometry are a critical key to primary eye health care for all Americans. Doctors of optometry are in more than 10,100 communities across the country and we have the ability to make access a reality for 99% of our nation's patients. At a time when the demands of the health care workforce are significantly outpacing the supply of new doctors in most fields, it is evident we are an important solution."
Not that it will be easy—doctors are "handcuffed" in their ability to practice medical optometry, Dr. Pierce added. But optometry is unbowed when it comes to fighting for access.
"We aren't letting the barriers get in our way—we are taking them on and identifying new strategies to enhance our ability to deliver the medically recognized standard of care we all learned and are trained to provide."
Among the strategies:
- Future Practice Initiative: "Through the Future Practice Initiative, the AOA and our state associations will ensure that doctors of optometry remain on the leading edge of patient-centered care and continue to have an essential and expanding role in the health care system," Dr. Pierce said. "This is the right thing to do for our patients, and therefore, it is the right thing to do for the profession."
- 'Planning for the forefront of care': The year 2020 will be an important milestone for optometry. "As we gather here in 2018, our AOA's 120th year, we are on the brink of a once-for-all-time opportunity for our profession, our practices and our patients, and for the health and vision of our country. Very simply, 2020 is our moment in time to talk about eye exams and focus on optometry. That means that 2020 must be a time for new dialogue about eye health and vision and optometry's essential and expanding role in the health care system. Our AOA, backed by the energy and involvement of everyone in this hall and our members across the country, will make it happen. As the leaders of the profession, we must continue planning for future needs of our members and their patients. We are setting our sights to be on the forefront of care and to do so will need a consistent discourse about the trends and the possibilities."
- Shine light on deceptive technologies: The AOA owes it to patients to welcome new evidence-based technologies that positively impact their vision care and eye health, he said. Yet, he added, the AOA must "continue to shine the light on deceptive technologies that ultimately put people at risk and have the potential to cause permanent harm, loss of vision, and yes, even loss of life. Our advocacy team has been on a mission to do just that, supported by many of our volunteer committees, fighting for our patients because, once again, doing what is right for our patients is also what is right for the profession."
- Bucking the Federal Trade Commission: "What else is right for our patients? In Dr. Quinn's presidential address on Thursday, he discussed our efforts in attempting to thwart the FTC's proposed "signed patient contact lens prescription acknowledgement form" that we all know is an additional burden on our patients and even more so on our practices. It is right for our patients to continue to fight the FTC on this, and if the rule is imposed, I promise you this: the AOA will review every option available to us to stop implementation, and reverse the ruling. Acquiescence is not an option."
Connect to OM
Couldn't make it to Denver? Catch up with all the profession's news coming out of Optometry's Meeting. Visit aoa.org/news for news roundups and at #OM2018 and AOA's dedicated social media page.
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