Each of the 23 optometry schools has an AOSA Trustee and a Trustee-Elect making up the Board of Trustees (BoT), along with an executive council consisting of a President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary. We have 2 board meetings a year, one in January in St. Louis and one at Optometry’s Meeting in June. At the meetings we advocate for the students’ best interests, learn about industry and organized optometry, and learn about the opportunities available to students. We then take that information back to our individual schools and deliver that information back to the students.
At each school the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) chapter is structured differently, but I can give you an inside look at how our Chapter works at IAUPR. Every student enrolled at the school is allowed to be a member of AOSA. This past year we established an AOSA Council consisting of 10 members, all representing organized optometry or AOA affiliates: Optometry’s Meeting, InfantSEE, American Academy of Optometry, NBEO, the contact lens and cornea section, Optometry Giving Sight, American Public Health Association, AOA-PAC, Optometric Extension Program and Low Vision, and Sports Vision. Each member of the council is responsible for keeping the students of IAUPR up to date on current happenings of the national organization. We also ask them to do one fundraiser a year and one educational event a semester. This helps to keep everyone involved and informed about all the different areas of optometry.
As a member of the AOSA BoT, I have had many great experiences, including the opportunity to meet many people in the field. AOSA has definitely broadened my knowledge of the field of optometry. For example, this past July Wal-Mart sponsored the Trustee-Elects to go to Bentonville, Arkansas, and tour one of their optical manufacturing plants, one of the largest in the nation. There were also team building exercises, and we were able to tour Wal-Mart’s headquarters for an inside view of what makes such a big company successful. In March, the Vision Council sponsored one BoT member from each school to go to Vision Expo East in New York City. This was my first visit to the city, and being able to experience such a big trade show was an amazing opportunity. I have been able to learn so much about my future profession from being a part of AOSA.
I encourage all optometry students to get involved in an area of optometry that interests you. What we learn in school is only the beginning. By participating in an organization such as the AOSA at the local, national, or international level, you will learn so much more about the field and the people in it. Together, we can make optometry better than ever!