As we have a firm step into a new era of optometry, it is important as a student to remember the importance in becoming the best possible refractionist that you can possibly become. As I just finished my optometry schooling, I found that at times the art of writing a glasses or contact Rx could often be overlooked and pushed aside to a non presenting finding that was observed in an examination. For the best interest of the patient and you as the doctor, we need to be meeting the needs of the patients which will be for that patient to see as best as possible.
Think of our profession as a strong building standing alone on the horizon. Our foundation is and will continue to be our refraction ability. Built upon our foundation we have the first floor which is our diagnostic abilities, upon that, we have our second floor which therapeutic abilities and upon that we have our third floor which is (in some states) our surgical abilities. However, if we ignore our foundation, the building that we know and love will tumble down.
The majority of patients come to us because we can make them see better with a pair of glasses or contacts, if we lose that art, we are on a dangerous road.
It is of great importance for us to know that we are embarking on a new and exciting scope of medical optometry that is uncharted for our profession. But once again, I must caution us in becoming too focused on our medical frontier and less focused in what has made our profession strong, our firm bases in refraction.
Why is this such a big deal? The danger lies in that if we lose our focus on our foundation, another profession will find it in their best interest to fill that niche. We need to continue to educate the public that we are the primary eye care profession focused on their health which comes hand in hand in meeting the needs for glasses and contacts.
My advice to you is to start this habit early, understand that even though we have a number of great medical capabilities, we own the refraction circle in eye care. Keep that near and dear to your hearts as you examine each patient you see. Also, it is just as important to donate to the AOA-Pac in your career, starting now as a student. Student rates are $20 a year. Why is this important? It is because of the hard work of our political action committee that continues to keep our legislative representatives at a national level aware of what our profession is.
I look forward to embarking on this journey with you all as we face new challenges and obstacles in optometry. Please feel free to email me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, don’t forget to sign up on AOA connect. That is a great tool that we are able to stay in touch with each other. May you all have a great rest of your summer!
Dr. Paul Heeg