Eye Health

AOA elects new Board of Trustees, approves resolutions, as Optometry’s Meeting 2022 wraps up

James P. DeVleming, O.D., of Washington state, was sworn in Saturday, June 18, as president of the AOA, becoming the 101st president of the leading optometric professional organization.

On the final day of Optometry’s Meeting® in Chicago, the House of Delegates also filled vacancies on the AOA Board of Trustees and ratified resolutions encouraging student participation and resources for expanding scope on the final day of Optometry’s Meeting® in Chicago. The Board of Trustees helps establish AOA policy and advocates for the profession, both at the state and federal levels; helps broaden optometry’s scope of practice nationwide; protects and defends the profession; and expands the public’s access to quality eye health and vision care.

AOA Board of Trustees election

Members of AOA’s 2022-2023 Board of Trustees are:

Officers

  • President James P. DeVleming, O.D., of Washington.
  • President-elect Ronald L. Benner, O.D., of Montana.
  • Vice President Steven T. Reed, O.D., of Mississippi.
  • Secretary-Treasurer Jacquelyn “Jacquie” M. Bowen, O.D., of Colorado.
  • Immediate Past President Robert C. Layman, O.D., of Ohio.

Trustees

  • Paul M. Barney, O.D., of Alaska (newly elected).
  • Marrie S. Read, O.D., M.B.A., Armed Forces Optometric Society (newly elected).
  • Belinda R. Starkey, O.D., of Arkansas (re-elected).

Not up for election this year but continuing to serve as AOA Trustees are Teri K. Geist, O.D., of Nebraska, Terri A. Gossard, O.D., M.S., of Ohio; and Curtis Ono, O.D., of Washington. Learn more about the 2022-2023 AOA Board of Trustees.

A vision for the future of optometry

In taking office, Dr. DeVleming reflected on moving the profession forward. As the world and the practice of optometry has evolved, so must the AOA, but not without the backing of a strong board and membership.

“It is time for our association to evolve again,” Dr. DeVleming said in announcing the AOA New Practice Success Group, which he described as “our reprioritization, a structural realignment of the AOA’s deep bench of volunteer expertise.” The group will:

  • Focus new attention on key payer issues.
  • Bring new data to the forefront to help strengthen AOA advocacy on behalf of practices.
  • Expand membership recruitment strength by offering tangible member benefits.
  • Offer additional support to member doctors.
  • Increase cross-organization collaboration.

“It doesn’t matter how you practice or where you practice, you need to ensure your practice is healthy.”  Dr. DeVleming says. “A healthy practice is one that has the best, most educated and efficient paraoptometric staff and the best equipment to allow you to provide the best care. The Practice Success Group activation will deploy new strategies to push back against those that limit our ability to best care for patients by unilaterally closing doctor panels or forcing us to take lesser plans just so we might be able to access the medical plans.

“It is time we received an increase in reimbursement levels from payers who have profited tremendously from the care we provide while only giving us a pittance of the income they receive from their covered lives,” he added. “It costs more to live, work and provide care in the world than it did in the late 1990s, and it is time we get reimbursed at a level commensurate with the changes we have all done for our care and education … We cannot sit idly by. We are going to work to make fair reimbursement a priority moving forward. It is our association’s duty to help our members grow, and we take that responsibility very seriously.”

The reprioritization will mean a change in the AOA volunteer committee structure in order to create even more synergy, creation of tools and resources to help practices succeed, leveraging the AOA’s relationship with its membership management partner agency and continuation the AOA’s Eye Deserve More campaign to educate the public.,

Meanwhile, membership and advocacy will continue to be AOA priorities.

“AOA will lead but we need all of you to push us along and guide us,” Dr. DeVleming concluded. “Our patients will benefit, our practices will benefit and, of course, the association will benefit.

“Let’s go out and change the world.”

House of delegates approves resolutions

Further, the House of Delegates adopted a handful of resolutions including:

Support student attendance at AOA+ and other AOA and AOA affiliate association events. The rationale behind the resolution was the positive appearance by more than 2,300 students of optometry who traveled to Washington, D.C., in 2017 for an inaugural AOA+ event during Optometry’s Meeting. The resolution calls on all AOA affiliated associations (1) to encourage student attendance at AOA+ events; (2) to strive to demonstrate the value of lifelong membership in the AOA to students and new doctors of optometry; and the AOA urges optometric educational institutions and their faculty to accommodate student attendance at AOA+ and other important AOA and AOA-affiliate association events.

Amendment of Resolution 2011 that the AOA continue to encourage all AOA-affiliated associations to utilize the resources developed by the Advanced Procedure and Future Practice Education Task Force and the Future Practice Initiative, that AOA shall encourage all AOA affiliated associations to promote these resources to their members, and the AOA continue to explore additional ways to assist the affiliated associations in initiatives to expand or defend their optometric practice acts.

Expresses gratitude to the inaugural partners of the Eye Deserve More campaign and the affiliates and doctors who have participated in it to spread its message about optometry. It also encourages doctors of optometry and the public to continue to share their inspirational stories about the life-changing impact of in-person optometric care in their lives. Launched in April 2021, the public awareness campaign has focused on the essential role played by doctors of optometry in the eye care and the overall health of Americans. The campaign shares doctor-patient stories through digital advertising and social media and illustrates the transformational and life-saving impact that proper optometric care, provided by AOA doctors of optometry, can have on patient lives. The campaign has garnered more than 2.5 billion impressions and 3,000 media placements, while driving nearly 100,000 users to the AOA doctor locator.

Calls on the AOA to applaud the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) for its efforts to rebrand itself, including an upgrade of its communication channels, donating nearly $10,000 to Optometry Cares®—the AOA Foundation for new student disaster relief grants; and contributing toward, along with the AOA, funds for 32 grants to underrepresented pre-optometry students. The AOSA continually educates optometry students on the value of the AOA and AOA-affiliated associations and empowers them as future doctors. Further, the resolution calls on all AOA-affiliated associations to recognize the “extraordinary achievements” of the AOSA and reward that dedication by strengthening outreach efforts to optometry students and recent graduates of optometry schools.

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