President's Calling - Where Do We Go from Here?

Published November 7, 2017

In This Issue...

President's Calling

Where Do We Go from Here?

American Academy of Optometry © 2016.
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November 2016


To say that Academy 2016 Anaheim was a huge success would be an understatement. Here’s why!

There were many facets of this meeting that made it an incredible experience. Starting with a fabulous Plenary that featured world renowned author, Malcolm Gladwell. His presentation focused on several dilemmas we face in healthcare today. He started by defining Treverton’s Paradox which highlights the fact that the root of the crisis of modern professions (including ours) is a failure to deal with the overwhelming growth of data. He argued that modern problems in healthcare fall into two distinct categories, “Puzzles or Mysteries.” “Puzzles” are problems that are caused by having too little information, or a lack thereof, and “Mysteries” exist where there’s an excess of information. In this digital age the problems we face daily are generally considered “mysteries.” And, that fewer professions suffer more from Treverton’s Paradox than healthcare professions. Gladwell’s ability to analyze the healthcare dilemma was phenomenal.

For four days, the lectures and workshops portion of the meeting provided a wide array of pertinent topics ranging from contact lenses, pediatric and binocular vision, low vision, to pathology of the eye. The papers and posters section of the meeting continues to set us apart from other eye care meetings with a very strong scientific program. There was a record number of submissions this year, so the quality of papers and posters continues to soar. We were excited to offer the second joint symposium with the American Academy of Ophthalmology featuring world renowned speakers. The topic, “Corneal Infections in Contact Lens Wear,” was moderated by Elmer Tu, MD, (University of Illinois at Chicago) and Loretta Szczotka-Flynn, OD, PhD, FAAO, (Case Western Reserve University) and had over 1,200 in attendance.

To cap off the meeting a record number of new fellows (267) and 5 new Diplomates were inducted at the banquet on Saturday evening. Kudos to our Membership and Admittance Committees for a stellar recruitment and evaluation process throughout the year and especially at the annual meeting. We now proudly stand at a record-setting total membership of over 11,000. It was gratifying to see the conference center and hotels bustling with so many students and residents. The number of new students in attendance has moved with a sharp trajectory upward each year.

Just when we thought the New Orleans meeting have set our record for attendance, the number of attendees soared to over 7,700 in Anaheim. This represents the largest optometric meeting to ever be held. Comments on social media regarding the educational opportunities and the Plenary with Malcolm Gladwell were the buzz following the meeting.

In case you haven’t attended in many years, here’s what you’re missing: exceptional education over four days, Section and SIG Symposia, Awards Program, the Monroe J. Hirsch Symposium, the Joint American Academy of Ophthalmology and American Academy of Optometry Symposium, the Plenary Session, rapid fire sessions, and papers and posters. In addition, evening receptions are wonderful social events that provide opportunities for networking and sharing ideas with colleagues who share common interests.

So, where do we go from here? To answer succinctly, our next meeting in Chicago. Even though we can’t predict the number who may attend, all of us at the Academy are hoping for an even bigger attendance. We’re confident the meeting will continue to thrive and the number of new members will continue to grow. Won’t you plan on joining the excitement in Chicago, October 11-14, 2017, by marking your calendar now? Don’t miss out on what promises to be another incredible meeting for optometry and another blockbuster event. Hope to see you there.


Joseph P. Shovlin, OD, FAAO
President, American Academy of Optometry