President's Calling - The Most Rewarding Experience in My Career

Published February 21, 2018

February 2018

The Most Rewarding Experience in My Career

Have you considered becoming an Academy Diplomate? Now just might be the right time to start the process! More than thirty years ago I became a Diplomate; unequivocally, it was the most rewarding thing I’ve done in my career for a whole host of reasons. And it has been one of my most memorable Academy experiences, as well.

I can clearly remember our Diplomate class of 1987. At the time the Section was known as the Section on Cornea and Contact Lenses. The Section had a banner year in the number of new Diplomates and our Diplomate class had some well known recipients (Drs. Joe Barr, Ed Bennett, Jan Bergmanson, Steve Grant, Terry Scheid and Glenda Secor). Many of these folks have gone on to serve as chair of the Section on Cornea, Contact Lenses and Refractive Technologies. Sadly, Steve Grant passed on last month. He was an incredible promoter of the Academy and the Section he served admirably for many years.

Here’s how to get started on becoming a Diplomate:

  • Pick a Section. There are eight (8) different Sections that award a Diplomate certificate: Anterior Segment, Binocular Vision, Perception and Pediatric Optometry, Comprehensive Eye Care, Section on Cornea, Contact Lenses and Refractive Technologies, Glaucoma, Low Vision, Optometric Education, and Public Health and Environmental Vision.
  • Apply on the Academy's website.
  • Choose a mentor within the Section. It’s a good idea to do it with a friend or colleague you know.
  • Become familiar with the requirements for the Section you have chosen. Each Section’s requirements may differ from other Sections. Most require case reports, a written exam, and a practical and clinical exam. Every Section requires an oral examination for completion. You might have an option to pursue a non-clinical track if you don’t currently provide patient care.
  • Commit to starting and finishing a paper (if required) prior to the annual meeting in San Antonio in November.
  • Begin to prepare for parts of the exam that must be completed onsite at the annual meeting.

Choosing a mentor might be the most important thing you will do prior to starting. By definition, a mentor is an “experienced and trusted advisor.” The mentor you choose will be your advisor, counselor and consultant. I remain forever indebted to my mentors, the late Rodger Kame and 30 years later my good friend, Stan Yamane. Without their encouragement, advice and continued support I doubt I would have completed the program. 

The process will be challenging; that assures a valuable learning experience. Remember when you hit a roadblock— if it were easy, everyone would do it! So, get a mentor and go to work!

Other Upcoming Deadlines

Scientific Program submissions for Academy 2018 San Antonio will be accepted May 1 - May 31, 2018. Vision scientists, educators, clinicians, students, and residents are encouraged to submit their work for consideration. Abstracts may be submitted in two different formats —as a paper presentation or a poster. 

Awards nominations for San Antonio are due April 1, 2018. Please refer to the Academy website for more details.  


Joseph P. Shovlin, OD, FAAO