The Best Advice for Growing Your Career: Get Involved!

By Dr. Bibin Cherian

I first got involved through the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) during optometry school and quickly realized the importance of being active within the profession and community. Whether it’s through joining state or local associations, pursuing board certification, obtaining American Academy of Optometry fellowship, or engaging in volunteer opportunities, active involvement serves as a cornerstone for professional growth and advocacy for the profession. This is beneficial for both personal development and for patient care.

Being involved allows young optometrists to establish connections within their professional community. By joining the American Optometric Association (AOA) and the respective state association, they gain access to a network of experienced practitioners who can provide mentorship, guidance and support. These connections not only offer valuable insights into the intricacies of optometry that go beyond clinical care, but also pave the way for collaboration and career opportunities. Through attending and networking at an Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians (OAOP) state meeting, it created an opportunity for a summer optometric technician job following my first year of optometry school. The connections formed at these meetings have also provided me with lecture opportunities at the state and regional levels. 

Likewise, pursuing board certification through the American Board of Optometry (ABO) or earning the Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry (FAAO) demonstrates a commitment to excellence and lifelong learning. These achievements not only enhance one’s clinical skills and knowledge, but also elevate their credibility within the profession. Board-certified optometrists are recognized for their expertise and dedication to upholding the highest standards of patient care, setting them apart as leaders in the field. In a constantly changing health care environment, it is vital that doctors stay up to date on the latest information. To maintain certifications, doctors must meet requirements of continuing education that I have found to be very clinically relevant. This helps influence my treatment plan for patients and provides clinical discussion with other doctors and student externs at the practice.

Volunteering on committees and boards within different optometric organizations offers young doctors an avenue to immerse themselves in the profession and deepen their understanding. Actively participating in committee work, focusing on legislative advocacy, education or public health initiatives gives young optometrists firsthand experience in shaping the direction of the profession. Serving on boards also provided me with another platform to collaborate with seasoned practitioners and industry experts, fostering mentorship relationships and expanding professional networks.

From an advocacy standpoint, active involvement is essential for promoting the profession and advancing its interests on both local and national levels. By participating in legislative efforts, engaging with policymakers and advocating for key issues affecting optometry, young doctors can help strengthen optometry’s future and ensure access to quality eye care for all. Whether advocating for scope of practice expansion, insurance parity or public health initiatives, doctors can effect positive change within the community.

Getting involved in the profession you are entering is a crucial step for new doctors. I have benefitted immensely from my involvement with many optometric organizations and hope to continue my participation throughout a long career. Continually enhancing my knowledge and skill, expanding my professional network, and contributing to the collective advancement of optometry has made me a better doctor, and that directly benefits my patients and the care they receive.

Scroll to Top