Emerging leader

March 14, 2022
The AOA Leadership Institute aims to energize and equip the next generation of champions for optometry, who will then be ready to step in and lead at all levels—local, state and beyond. The goal is to have a diverse leadership class each year that accurately represents the demographics of our rising generation of doctors of optometry.
Yukiko Oda, O.D.


Excerpted from page 56 of the January/February 2022 edition of AOA Focus.

Yukiko Oda, O.D., who practices in Minnesota, hoped to grow coming into the inaugural class of the AOA Leadership Institute, supported by AOA Visionary Supporters Johnson & Johnson Vision and EssilorLuxottica, which launched in 2021. Indeed, Dr. Oda did flourish—in ways that surprised her. Now, one of the 123 graduates of the first class in the leadership development program, she reflects on the experience.

What has the Leadership Institute experience meant to you?

Being nominated and chosen to participate in the Leadership Institute meant someone thought I had potential to do more than what I believed I could do. This kind of support in conjunction with the topics that are taught in the Leadership Institute sessions has helped my confidence and equipped me with better knowledge of how to present myself in a professional setting.

How did the program prepare you to be a better doctor of optometry and leader?

A better doctor by communicating to my patients and staff in a way that they respond to positively. A better leader by learning the skills of public speaking to make an impact on our government representatives and leaders of our profession. I’ve recently taken part in meetings with legislators regarding scope of practice. I also participated in a strategy meeting where I was able to meet other optometric leaders in Minnesota. I hope I can continue to find a role in helping elevate optometry.

An objective of the institute was to bring together a diversity of doctors from rural and urban areas, of different ages and stages of their careers, from all over the country. What did you value about that diversity?

I was pleasantly surprised with the diversity of cohorts they chose. It was an eye-opening experience because not always do you get to meet and speak with someone from a different state who has a more modernized scope of practice. Also being able to ask the other cohort’s experience on how they prepared for certain events or handled difficult situations.

Would you recommend the program to others?

Definitely. There are so many takeaway skills that will help you not only in professional settings but also in personal life.

What was the No. 1 takeaway for you from the program?

The public speaking session was most valuable to me because it was my weakest skill. Understanding how to prepare, compose and practice for public speaking, whether it be a formal or casual setting, has tremendously helped me in building my brand and confidence amongst our colleagues and leaders. This was absolutely a special experience that I am able to utilize throughout my career and life.

2023 AOA Leadership Institute

Nominate a doctor of optometry or apply for the 2023 AOA Leadership Institute. Nominations and applications are reviewed by a committee of doctors, advocates and leaders of optometry.
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