It’s been a while since I’ve blogged – so it’s time!
I just got back from Atlanta where I attended the Southern Educational Congress of Optometry (known to most optometrists as SECO) where I had the honor and privilege of delivering the opening lecture of the conference – and it was A BLAST! I was part of a special session entitled, “More than Meets the Eye” where I was asked to provide my view on the future of optometry as well as optometric education. I was followed by amazing lectures from Drs. Mike Gallaway, Clark Chang, both Salus affiliates, Vicky Vandervort from Omaha, NE, and Christina Master from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I had the opportunity to help set the tone and introduce the topics the other four doctors presented which included convergence insufficiency, visual training, closed head trauma and keratoconus. It was extremely well-received.
The best part of all is that I had people coming up to me throughout the meeting thanking me for being such a great spokesman for Salus/PCO and optometry. They were fired up about increasing our scope of practice, especially as we as confront a nationwide shortage of primary care providers through 2025. I think what’s most important about this talk is that it helps to set the stage for Salus/PCO to once again take the lead on moving the optometric profession forward while at the same time putting some pressure on our national organizations to begin marketing our great optometric profession to qualified applicants nationwide. One of the points I made, in addition to why it’s absolutely necessary to expand optometric scope of practice to include the diagnosis and management of metabolic disorders such as diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia, was that optometric national organizations, such as the American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Optometry need to actively market the profession. Much like the nursing profession has done, they need to actively market in order to reverse the decreasing applicant pool we have been experiencing over the past decade. I see this as one of the most important challenges confronting the profession; ensuring we maintain a cohort of qualified applicants to fill the 1700+ seats we currently have nationally. If we don’t do this we risk having an applicant pool that does not provide enough qualified people to fill the seats of our 23 optometry schools.
So here we go – I’d like to take this talk nationally as I believe expanding the optometric scope of practice as well as addressing a decreasing applicant pool are burning platforms Salus needs to take the lead in addressing! We’ve got a history of taking the lead on these types of issues; after all, we wouldn’t have diagnostic and therapeutic privileges today if it weren’t for the visionary leadership of those who came before us at PCO. I welcome your comments and support as we move this initiative forward.
Have a great week!