President's Calling - The Year of Living Dangerously

Published December 12, 2019

The Year of Living Dangerously

Dear Academy Membership,
The Academy lives from annual meeting to annual meeting and so, by this measure, another year has passed. You may not know that your Board of Directors has lived it dangerously.There were significant mountains to climb, the replacing of our executive director, and the necessity of a strategic plan. This Academy had fulfilled a significant dream and became the provider of the largest optometric meeting in the world. We have been dismissed from certain cities because their convention centers are too small. We have risen to new heights.
It is here that danger lurks. How do we proceed? Bigger and better? Maintain the new status? Step outside the road well-traveled? This board decided to go big. As one of our members said, we have to get out of ourselves and try new things.
In this way, we approached our strategic plan process. We worked hard to find the essence of this Academy. Why do we exist? What is our raison d’etre?And finally, it became clear that we exist to Inspire Excellence in Eye Care. Envision every examination in every optometric office proceeding with the latest evidence-based knowledge of diagnosis and treatment. A thrilling vision, indeed. How obvious one might say, but how difficult it was to synthesize. But here we have it simple and clear. This Vision statement will guide us as we move into this new era of the Academy. There are five pillars that we will build upon: Education, Research, Membership, Leadership and Legacy, and Strategic Partnerships. Five pillars to hold us steady. Five pillars with ideas to which we aspire.
Let’s start with Education. It is the core of our annual meeting and remains the heart of our Academy. There are so many factors to consider: the size of our meeting, the impersonal nature of large classes, the volume of science, the clinical breakthroughs, the inability of all to attend, the costs, the scope of practice differences, keeping science at the forefront. These are a few of the many dilemmas that our Education Strategic Planning Subcommittee embraced.
And so came the Education mission. We are determined to create new and better ways to deliver evidence-based CE at the annual meeting. We will lead in the quality and effectiveness of online CE. Watch as we expand the reach, range, and impact of this Academy's expertise by partnering with regional meetings. As well, we will increase the number of joint symposia by partnering with other health care professionals.
I believe that these allied health care professionals are crucial to our status as first-line health care providers. During the strategic planning process, we spoke with leaders in pharmacy and nurse practitioning to understand their journey to the present state of their professions and learned a good deal about their struggles. The education group is now envisioning symposia jointly presented with rheumatology, internal medicine, and neurology that will allow us to better understand the patient's systemic well-being as well as their visual status.
When I think of the significant changes to hypertensive and diabetic management alone, I am overwhelmed by the speed of change and my inability to keep up. A practical, concrete, science-based symposium would be welcome by many. And imagine the impact for our profession when we present at their meetings.
I see myself sitting at a table of 10 in a glaucoma lecture with an expert in one of the chairs. Here we will discuss the clinical cases that we have pre-read and will leave understanding the pitfalls of this challenging disease. We will be more at ease with our uneasiness. We will be better practitioners.
And so the work continues. Some of these changes will occur next year and then the year after. We ask you to participate and report back to us about your experiences. It is courageous to live dangerously, but we are determined to continue to do just that.
Barbara Caffery, OD, PhD, FAAO