Q&A Session with Dr. Tony Carnevali, OD

By: Thai Nguyen – WesternU Class of 2013

After having the privilege of learning from Dr. Tony Carnevali on the California OD laws as a guest lecturer at Western University, and knowing the fact that for the past 35+ years, Dr. Carnevali has fought many political battles for the preservation and advancement of the optometric profession, I knew I had to share my experiences with him to our readers. Last week, my classmate, Jenn Buell, and I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Carnevali who is the current Director of The Optometric Center of Los Angeles (OCLA). The OCLA is one of the satellite teaching facilities of the Southern California College of Optometry (SCCO) that offers a comprehensive/primary eye care for their patients. Our meeting took place at the OCLA, and here is a brief excerpt of our conversation.

Thai/Jenn (TJ): Good afternoon. Wow! Now this is what it’s all about (viewing his many awards and achievements in his office). Thank you for taking the time to meet us.

Dr Carnevali (TC): No problem, it’s my pleasure to speak with the both of you.

TJ: How can optometry students help the optometric profession?

TC: The most important thing that optometry students can do for the profession while being a student is to keep up to date and be aware of the current optometric issues.

TJ: What is the best way students can do that?

TC: I highly recommend students attend local optometric society meetings in their area. At these meetings, you can network with other practicing ODs and perhaps find future employment with these doctors. You can learn a great wealth of information concerning the optometric profession at these meetings. In addition to the continuing education topics that are presented, you will learn about the current affairs of the profession, especially what types of important issues are being fought.

TJ: Why should students pay AOSA dues? Why is it important to be a member?

TC: Why pay dues for the AOSA? Well, let’s see…would you buy life insurance or medical insurance if your life depended on it? The main reason why optometry has expanded their scope of practice in the past and/or present has been due to organized optometry such as AOA and other state optometric associations such as the California Optometric Association (COA). Since optometry is a legislated profession, which means that the scope of practice for optometry is always changing. For instance, you may be able to prescribe a certain medication at the moment, but in a few years you may or may not due to the new laws established at each state. This is why it’s so important to support organized optometry because they are your voice when it comes to establishing new laws for the expansion of the scope of practice. Remember, when you join, AOSA, you are automatically a member of AOA.

TJ: You made an excellent point that optometrists’ rights and privileges can be taken away at any moment. That really scares me, and hopefully other current and future ODs. Again, why do you believe students should support the AOSA?

TC: Just imagine the consequences if you don’t support organized optometry. For example, how would you like it if you could NOT practice the majority of things you learned in optometry school? If you think about the benefits and consequences, why wouldn’t you join? Case in point, the newly revised SB 1406: Glaucoma Legislature will allow current graduating optometrists to be fully glaucoma-certified. This revised glaucoma bill is a landmark win for us because newly OD graduates will NOT need to be working under a licensed ophthalmologist for 2 years to obtain full glaucoma treatment rights.

TJ: That definitely sounds like a great win for not only California ODs, but also the optometric profession. Although this is a great win for us will there be any repercussions from the OMDs?

TC: Yes, ophthalmology will attempt to repeal the recently enacted California glaucoma legislature.

(Update: According to recent COA news, “Action in Sacramento is heating up as the State Legislature is considering legislation sponsored by the California Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons to repeal the recently enacted glaucoma regulations. On Wednesday, March 23, 2011, there will be a scheduled COA’s Legislative Day in Sacramento where COA members can join together to walk the halls of the state Capitol, meet and speak with state legislators, and advocate for issues that impact how optometry is practiced in California. The event is FREE and is open to any COA member and student member attending a California school of optometry, who is passionate about issues affecting the practice of optometry, who wants to make a difference, network with fellow colleagues, and meet legislators face-to-face.” If interested, please register online at COA’s website by March 10, 2011, or go to the following link: http://www.coavision.org/members/student_section/kpdayattendance.html)

TJ: How would one get more student involvement in the profession?

TC: Well, a strategy that I used when I was a student was to have a business lunch with several of my friends in class, and discuss the important issues that the profession is facing. We would discuss a wide range of issues from current laws to how to open up a private practice. We would just try to include new students into our circle. It grew from there. It’s definitely better than trying to preach to the whole entire class.

TJ: What motivates you to continue to fight for our profession?

TC: Believe it or not, but I’ve always been a hard worker. Just give me an assignment, and I will complete it beyond your expectations. I’ve always strived to give my 110% on anything I do. I love our profession, and enjoy educating our future ODs to become more informed and skilled practitioners. I’ve dedicated most of my adult life to better our wonderful profession, and I will continue help others fight to maintain our rights and privileges and the advancement of our profession. Regardless of how much our profession’s scope of practice expands, it is very important for ODs to remember to never sway away from refractions because opticians would definitely strive to fill this void.

TJ: Thanks again for taking the time from your busy schedule to speak with us, and allowing our readers a glimpse of your perspective on our dynamic profession.

TC: It was a pleasure meeting the both of you today. I was impressed with your level of motivation, enthusiasm, and commitment to our profession. I hope you will continue your involvement and participation. That is how it all begins…and I can assure you that it is a very satisfying experience. Our profession is in good hands with individuals such as you and Jenn coming forward to serve. Please let me know how I can help.

Some of Dr. Carnevali’s achievements, titles, and office positions include: private practice in Glendale, CA for 20 years, Fellow of American Academy of Optometry (FAAO), past president of the California Optometric Association (COA) and San Fernando Valley Optometric Society, currently serves as the President of the Public Vision League (the litigative arm of COA), also serves as a Special Consultant to the Office of Professional Examination Services, CA Dept of Consumer Affairs, to develop glaucoma certification requirements for CA OD’s. Some of his many honors and achievements include: Calif’s Young OD of the Year, San Fernando Valley Optometric Society OD of the Year, Calif OD of the Year by the COA as well as being recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus of the Year and recipient of the Faculty Teaching Excellence Award for being an outstanding professor at SCCO.

If you have any questions for the student writers or Dr. Carnevali, please comment below.

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