Is your staff connected? How peer connections benefit practices

May 1, 2024
Peer connections may be the unsung—or under-sung—hero of professional conferences in a way that only these veteran staff leaders know.
Paraoptometric professional teaching Optometry's Meeting session

Is there a kernel of truth to the saying, ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know?’ 

Cliche aside, making connections and building professional networks can help create opportunities that advance not only personal careers but also businesses. Leaning on a community of experts and leveraging their collective experiences shows how to apply hard-earned education and training in the most effective way possible. Not to say ‘what you know’ isn’t important, on the contrary, but for individuals—and businesses—looking to get ahead, relationships are vital. 

That’s why one-in-three Optometry’s Meeting® attendees choose the annual AOA conference for the ability to collaborate with leading experts, exhibitors and peers, to grow their professional networks, find business solutions and build their care teams. And it’s not just doctors of optometry who say so. 

Paraoptometric staff ensure optometry practices run efficiently and effectively, ensuring everything from the exam lane to the front office is working toward delivering great patient care. But it doesn’t happen overnight.  


Save 10 hours, see 11 more patients each week by delegating non-physician tasks to well-trained or certified paraoptometric staff. That’s what the AOA’s 2023 Survey of Paraoptometric Membership found: optometry practices with highly trained, certified staff allowed doctors more time for patient care and helped practices run more efficiently. 


See how these four paraoptometric leaders find continued success through Optometry’s Meeting with the power of networking. 

Why is Optometry’s Meeting great for professional networking? 

Linda Rodriguez, CPO, AOA Paraoptometric Resource Center Committee chair 

New Jersey 

Meeting with peers and realizing we belong to a nationwide paraoptometric community is priceless. Optometry’s Meeting is the celebration of the optometric family which paraoptometrics are part of, and the networking opportunities allow us to grow in knowledge and enhance our commitment to the profession and patients served.   

“The connections paraoptometrics make can foster friendships that last a lifetime, increase awareness, encourage sharing of ideas, and build enthusiasm to continue to serve the profession at a national and state level. Through the events offered at Optometry’s Meeting, specifically for paraoptometrics, we return to our practices inspired and ready to continue our path for professional growth.” 

Melanie Jenkins, CPO, AOA Paraoptometric Resource Center Committee member 


“What a thrill to be a paraoptometric and to have the opportunity to attend Optometry’s Meeting! I attended my first one in 2019 and haven’t missed one since—that first one opened my eyes to what a strong profession we have. I was blown away that there were so many people who do what I do daily and truly love what they do. I attended by myself and was feeling alone in a crowd. Quickly, I was approached by a group of ladies who took me under their wing and welcomed me.   

“It was incredible meeting other office managers like myself, who were attending from states all over the U.S. We shared stories, ideas, contact information and continue to find each other each year and share. Each time I meet new paras and keep growing the circle of friends. The wisdom and knowledge of these contacts has been so helpful to me in our practice. The education that I have received from them and in attending courses at Optometry’s Meeting has been priceless.” 

Beverly Roberts, CPOT, Commission on Paraoptometric Certification vice-chair 


"Through the years of attending Optometry’s Meeting, it has helped me grow the practice as a clinic administrator. One of those ways is when I’m able to meet other administrators. We have discussions over the challenges and opportunities that we face on a daily basis, and we share the answers and solutions to how we tackle those things—I love that. The education at Optometry’s Meeting is amazing, but mingling with my peers and learning from them has been one of the greatest parts of Optometry’s Meeting.”

Heather Schwartz, CPOT, AOA Paraoptometric Resource Center Committee member


“Attending Optometry’s Meeting is about more than just the formal continuing education. You connect with other paraoptometrics in meaningful ways. You see that we all have the same types of patients and gain their valuable insight on how to best take care of them. Networking allows for meaningful connections to be made, valuable input to take back to the office and the potential for lifelong friendships. Attending the Paraoptometric Awards Luncheon Celebration and Paraoptometric Idea Exchange, you walk away feeling encouraged, motivated and ready to accept new challenges in the workplace with a fresh viewpoint.”  

Interested in attending Optometry’s Meeting as a paraoptometric? Don't forget to add these two paraoptometric events to your calendar while in Nashville: 

  • Paraoptometric Awards Luncheon Celebration, supported by Alcon 
    12-1 p.m., Thursday, June 20 
    This annual celebration of AOA associate-member paraoptometrics, honored for their outstanding and significant contributions to the profession, is complementary to attending paraoptometrics but registration is required. Space is limited, so reserve your seat early. 
  • Paraoptometric Idea Exchange 
    1-3 p.m., Thursday, June 20 
    Immediately following the Paraoptometric Awards Luncheon Celebration, stick around for the Paraoptometric Idea Exchange where you can expand your professional network and meet with other paraoptometric staff from across the country. Discuss practice challenges and opportunities, share information on local issues, and discuss ideas on how to grow AOA associate membership with your peers. 

Looking for an Optometry’s Meeting pro-tip: As an AOA associate member, paraoptometrics save almost $100 off on-site registration fees as compared to non-members. All paraoptometric staff of AOA-member doctors of optometry can become associate members at no charge to the staff member or AOA doctor.  

Find out more about the benefits of becoming an AOA associate member and how to enroll staff in only a few clicks. 

Optometry's Meeting® 2024 registration

Visit the Optometry's Meeting registration page below to find more information about attending our profession's premier annual event, June 19-22, in Nashville, Tennessee. Register now to receive advanced registration pricing, discounted off on-site fees, and find other ways you can save with information on member pricing, travel grants and more.

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