Profession leaders exchange best practices, network

January 19, 2017
Presidents’ Council 2017 convenes affiliate leadership to advance profession.

Necessity is often the mother of invention; however, it was a 'solution without a problem' that gave rise to an instantly recognizable commercial success.

Unperturbed in crafting the exact opposite of his goal—a super-strong aerospace glue—3M scientist Spencer Silver pitched his weak, residue-free adhesive for years without any takers. That is, until fellow engineer Arthur Fry saw potential for sticking page markers to his hymnal.  

"Repositionable notes," they called this application. "Post-It" notes, we now know them as today.  

Chris Wroten, O.D., AOA Federal Relations Committee member, shared this case study with the more than 160 attendees of the 2017 Presidents' Council meeting, Jan. 12-14, in St. Louis, Missouri, to illustrate how a determined vision can bring about a positive change. That's a message affiliates took to heart, tasked with keeping in mind leadership goals, priorities and initiatives for the new year during the annual meeting.  

But unlike the Post-It saga, optometry's leaders know the solution to challenges facing the profession.  

Apprising affiliate leadership

The annual Presidents' Council unites the volunteer leadership structure of state affiliates, the Armed Forces Optometric Association and American Optometric Student Association in a likeminded forum that fosters development of leadership roles and strategies that advance optometry. It's an exchange for information in the legislative arena, organizational growth and a call to action to further the profession's initiatives through advocacy.  

Development sessions included presentations from internationally recognized leadership and management expert and keynote speaker Michael Brandwein, as well as breakouts among affiliates, themselves, and with AOA staff and volunteers.

Such AOA updates included:

  • Think About Your Eyes campaign's largest year ever. AOA President Andrea P. Thau, O.D., announced increased AOA and industry support for the 2017 public awareness campaign that will ultimately drive an estimated 1.4 million additional eye exams. Think About Your Eyes, the multimillion-dollar national advertising campaign, already is responsible for growing eye examinations faster than ever with nearly 828,500 additional exams generated by the campaign in 2015, alone. This new campaign push will generate 1 billion impressions. "The program is working, but we know that we can always do better, and this year we will," Dr. Thau told attendees.

  • New session, new administration. Clarke Newman, O.D., AOA Federal Relations Committee chair, updated colleagues on how committee members and AOA staff continue working to best position optometry for expected changes in health care policy with the incoming administration. "Everything is on the table," Dr. Newman said, in regards to the Affordable Care Act, and AOA will continue to vigorously fight for measures such as the Dental and Optometric Care Access Act and Contact Lens Consumer Health Protection Act.

  • Online, app-based technology. Deanna Alexander, O.D., AOA State Government Relations Committee chair, offered a breakdown of current state efforts to rein back companies that publicly tout "online exams" or the ability to renew/fill contact lens prescriptions without ever seeing an eye doctor. To date, 13 states have enacted some form of patient protection legislation, and the committee is working to further address telehealth-related issues.  
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