Over the last year, the Foundation has been hard at work developing six new programs to help fill currently unmet needs and align with the American Academy of Optometry's recent strategic plan. The Academy's strategic plan, entitled "Inspiring Excellent in Eye Care" has five pillars, each defining a priority of the Academy. These are: Education, Research, Membership, Leadership & Legacy, and Strategic Partnerships. Below is a brief description of the new programs which support these pillars by "Enabling Excellence in Eye Care."
Clinical Investigator Certification
Clinical Fellows are uniquely positioned to recognize key areas of eyecare that require further development or investigation. Many potential collaborative partners, such as academic and industry researchers, are searching for this insight. Become an Academy certified Clinical Investigator and learn the skills required to conduct rigorous sponsored, clinical trials within your current practice setting.
OD / PhD Scholarship Program
Additional PhD’s will be required to teach the next generation of optometry students and move the profession’s cutting-edge research forward. It is advantageous if these individuals also have clinical backgrounds. The Foundation will provide a training development scholarship to help incentivize optometrists/residents to pursue a PhD in a vision science or related biomedical science field.
Clinical Podcast Series
Optometrists may often not have enough time or access to read all the relevant published research papers. This program will provide summaries of trending, clinically relevant research which may directly translate and impact daily patient care. We plan to present summaries from across the literature in a podcast format.
Two gaps were identified in funding research. First, a need to stimulate novel exploratory research in specific areas of optometric interest through pilot funding. Secondly, to form collaborations with research partners, such as those in traditional vision care as well as technology firms, to explore areas of mutual interest. Competitive proposals will be submitted and undergo a peer review process.
Optometrists have voiced the need for an online staff training program that provides basic foundational education for employees who are new to the eye care profession. The training modules are aligned in a curriculum intended to be taken during the first two weeks of employment and certificates will be presented upon completion. Training modules will include topics such as basic eye anatomy, fundamentals of an eye exam, diagnostic equipment, and HIPAA and legal guidelines.
"Bright Ideas" Pitch Competition
This program will aim to stimulate new ideas and innovative thinking leading to potential treatments or devices. Top submitted ideas will be invited to a Pitch Competition at the Academy 2021 Boston meeting to present their project to a live audience and receive feedback from a panel of judges. Cash awards will be presented to winners to provide seed development funding.