|Presented by incoming
ALOA President Dr. Doug Clark of Eye Care Associates (http://eca-inc.net),
to the Alabama Optometric Association (www.eyesite-aloa.org).
Ive been a member of the Alabama Optometric Association for ___ years, and like all of you I want to be sure that my membership adds value to my practice and to my profession as a whole. It helps to periodically assess where weve been and where we are going - to step back and look at the big picture. Are we just completing tasks? Or are we making significant progress toward enhancing the working environment of our membership?
They tell me I have about five minutes to talk to you today, and that certainly isnt enough time to delve deeply into the past, present and future of this organization - but I can hit a few of the highlights.
In 1956 Norman Rockwell gave us a glimpse of a day in the life of an optometrist with his famous Saturday Evening Post cover. It was a one-person shop where the optometrist did the exam, dispensed the glasses, and collected the fees. Today, our offices are far different, thanks largely to the work of our professional association at the local and national levels.
A major milestone in optometry came in 19__ with the advent of Medicare Coverage for eye care services. In 19___ the GI Bill expanded our numbers by paying for the education of World War II veterans, many of whom entered the field of optometry. Just ___ years ago we passed a major hurdle with the approval of therapeutic legislation for optometrists. And as recently as last year, the House and Senate in Washington DC passed health care reform bills that included non-discrimination language.
These are the kinds of milestones that contributed to the evolution of our profession and, like the goals we have today, these things werent accomplished one fell swoop. Instead people like us made steady progress by working together to build an organization that would be capable of speaking with one voice for our profession.
Each year we address a number of issues - large and small - that ultimately impact the big picture. Last year, led by Sally Gordon, our organization made progress on administrative, legislative and educational issues.
Our long-time Executive Director Ginny Campbell retired and, after an exhaustive search, Amanda Jones was hired to fill her shoes. For those of you who dont yet know Amanda, she has a strong communications background and an extensive network in Montgomery that will benefit our profession.
A phenomenal 87% of the legislative candidates we endorsed last year were elected, including the Governor and Lt. Governor. Thats well beyond expectations for an organization such as ours.
We witnessed a __ % increase in attendance at our summer conference - and as we all know - increased participation at our conferences and educational programs will result in a stronger and more effective organization.
We began the process of expanding our web site for the Alabama Optometric Association, a project Ill address in greater detail in just a moment.
And we continued progress toward Y2K compliance for the organizations computer system. So when you ring in the New Year on December 31st, offer a toast to our hardworking officers from 1999 and a prayer for those of us wholl tackle next years agenda.
In the Year 2000 well get back to basics in education. Well offer more topics related to patient care to help everyone meet certification requirements.
Well continue to participate in the American Optometric Associations Practice Management University. The next PMU sponsored by ALOA will be held in August, in conjunction with the meeting for state board elections.
Well also continue to offer the Optometric Technician Training established by Ken Moultrie.
On the legislative agenda, the House and Senate will meet in joint committee in January to draft a compromise bill related to patient access to reasonable care, the PARCA-Like legislation I mentioned earlier. We expect that legislation to eliminate many ERISA restrictions. We plan to set up a task force locally, to determine if there is any state legislation we need to pass in conjunction with the Federal legislation to address concerns here in Alabama.
The Alabama Board of Optometry, which does our licensing, will be reviewed this year under Alabamas Sunset Laws. Our leadership will be prepared to help address any issues that arise related to that review.
Well continue to improve our web site, so that youll be able to readily obtain information, register for conventions, and learn about scheduling of ALOA events through the Internet.
Finally, well establish a state arm of the American Board of Optometric Practices to govern the new certification of optometrists.
Id like to close by reminding you that we are part of a bigger picture. We benefit not only from the accomplishments of the Alabama Optometric Association, but also those of the American Optometric Association. Weve already mentioned some of those accomplishments and how we are working at the local level to maximize benefits for our members. Not just legislation, but programs such as the Practice Management University come to us through AOA. The national organization is also working on issues such as reciprocity of licensure, so that you dont have to be re-licensed if you move to another state.
Alabamas voice in the AOA grew even stronger this year with the election of Tommy Crooks to the AOA Board of Trustees. This marks the first time that an Alabamian has served on the national board, and it would not have been possible without the support of our ALOA members who contributed to his campaign and networked on his behalf.
I am very proud of the progress that has been made by this organization at the state and national levels, and I look forward to being part of future endeavors. Remember, We are Optometry. What you do everyday in your practice, shapes the future of our profession. If we are to continue to grow and advance as a profession, then we must take advantage of the education, technology and other privileges that are afforded to us by the work of our professional organization.
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Power Point slide show for ALOA