Take Action: Why You Should Attend AOA on Capitol Hill 2024

Registration is now open for AOA on Capitol Hill, April 14-16, in Washington, D.C. Hope to see you there!

AOA on Capitol Hill is the AOA’s single-largest annual advocacy event, directly connecting optometry’s advocates and leaders with our nation’s policymakers to advance and support optometric care in America. Lawmakers love hearing from optometry students because we are the future of our profession!

Why did you decide to attend the event?

In school, it is often mentioned that optometry is a legislative profession, but I failed to fully understand what that meant. It’s scary to think about, but a lot can be taken away from ODs if we fail to advocate on behalf of our profession. All of the glaucoma medications I was memorizing in pharmacology class couldn’t even be prescribed if I was practicing optometry 20 years ago! The more I learned, the more I wanted to protect and advocate for our profession, show others the valuable role we play, and expand out of my comfort zone and try something new.

What were the benefits of attending AOA Capitol Hill?

  • Educational: There will be legislative briefings for students to learn what issues the AOA is currently fighting for, and you will receive instruction from experienced doctors of optometry who will teach you how to lobby effectively. During this meeting you’ll get a chance to not only learn about current legislation and how the advocacy/legislative process works, but you’ll also get a chance to practice advocating as well! You will meet with your state representatives to discuss the legislative agenda of the AOA and be able to see firsthand how this process works.
  • Networking: This is probably one of the BEST opportunities to network with doctors from the local societies all over the country. You will meet the doctors who are responsible for conveying our agenda and advocating for the profession. The doctors at this meeting really reach out to you and are more than willing to provide you with their wisdom and potential job opportunities.
  • Action oriented: Picture walking up to the Capitol building and educating and pressing legislators about what you do as an optometrist and the vital role we play in the health care system. By participating at AOA on Capitol Hill, you directly influence legislators to support not only doctors and students but also the vision and health of United States citizens. Such a cool experience!
  • Sight-seeing: Whether you have been to our nation’s capital before or it’s your first time visiting, you will have time to see the iconic sights, eat at some of the amazing restaurants, and visit one of the many museums that hold a part of American history.
  • Friends: You will meet optometry students from other schools and build relationships with them. It’s the perfect place to meet like-minded people and have a good time with your future colleagues.
  • Affordable: The AOA gave out travel grants to students as well as provided two nights complimentary housing for attending the event!

Will you be returning this year?

Yes! I felt like I was directly making a difference by being present and talking to my state’s legislators. You really see why it’s so important to learn about legislation in order to safeguard our profession and your future career. Legislators value the future leaders of the profession (students!), and the best way to show support and get involved is to show up to AOA on Capitol Hill or other state advocacy days.

Click to learn more about AOA on Capitol Hill and register.

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