This article was written by the best and brightest optometry students out there in our profession. The OptometryStudents.com team was responsible for crafting this article that is more of a collage of different views crafted into one masterpiece of student perspective. As senior editor of OptometryStudents.com, I tip my hat to the writers of this article who are the very same team members that made the OptometryStudents.com booth come alive at Optometry’s Meeting 2011. Thank you all so much.
Lamees Alshawkani SUNY 2013 – Angelica Delgado PCO 2014 – Antonio Chirumbolo SUNY 2013 – Dan Strybos PCO 2012 – Thai Nguyen WesternU 2013 – Mirage Shah NECO 2014 – Agnes Kim PCO 2014 – Rae Huang SUNY 2013
Where do we start? Well let’s just say that sleeping an average of 4 hours per night was definitely worth the time spent awake in Salt Lake City, Utah for AOA’s meeting.
Watch this homemade OptometryStudents.com VIDEO covering the entire event!
Wednesday June 15th, 2011
It is 80 degrees and sunny in Salt Lake City, Utah. The crisp air and snow-capped mountains in the horizon tell a story aboutwhere we are, while the Salt Lake Palace Convention Center tells a different type of a story, a story about why we are here. The 2011 Optometry’s Meeting has officially begun. The Salt Lake Palace Convention Center is plastered in advertisements and insignias depicting Optometry and ophthalmic industry. Inside, the students, doctors, and paraoptometrics are all registering, receiving information about the week’s upcoming attractions.
The exhibit hall is in the process of a transformation, from an empty space, to a majestic arena, as holograms projecting onto waterfalls are being perfected in preparation for the opening of the exhibit hall tomorrow. The day passes by, as preparations move forward, doctors, students, and paraoptometrics all taking separate paths that would eventually reconvene at the Convention Center later that night for the AOSA Welcome Reception. It was at the Welcome Reception that everyone in attendance enjoyed food, drinks, entertainment, and most of all, each other’s company as new connections quickly developed between students from optometry schools all over the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. The festivities did not end with conclusion of the Welcome Reception, as students all migrated together to a local bar to continue the celebration of the commencement of the Optometry’s Meeting, and the beginning of new friendships.
Thursday June 16th, 2011
This morning started for most attendees with the AOA Opening General Session, which featured a presentation by Erin Brockovich. She gave a sassy and uplifting talk about character. She spoke about having the courage to do the right thing even when it may not be the best thing on a personal or professional level. As optometrists, we must provide each patient we the best and appropriate care. We will be working with people from all different paths of life, and we can best serve them by providing care whole-heartedly and honestly.
The exhibit hall is officially open, and students and OD’s have the luxury to visit booths, get information, receive free giveaways, and learn about new products that have recently entered the industry. Swarms of people engulf the Luxottica exhibit like bees around a hive. 40% off wholesale price of sunglasses! Attendees were able to interface with colleagues and industry professionals, and most entered raffles for great prizes as well.
The hours roll by and students are soon off to the AOSA Awards and General Session Ceremony where students are greeted by former president Dr. Joe Ellis and current president Dr. Dori Carlson. Dr. Ellis and Dr.Carlson spoke about some of the major accomplishments (legislation in Kentucky!) and future goals of the AOA, and encouraged students to continue to be active in our profession. The AOSA Awards and General Session always has a great speaker and this year is was Jason Ryan Dorsey, who gave a very interesting lecture about how we as Generation Y differ from Generation X and the Baby Boomers. He also gave some great tips on how to get along and relate with employers, employees, and co-workers of different generations.
Thursday night ended with a bang with annual Varilux® Optometry Student Bowl. This is a event every optometry student must experience once in their life, not only is it educational, its also crazy fun! The atmosphere at the student bowl is electric. The social hall is bursting with school spirit as each school cheers on their respective representative. Colors, lights, chants, and posters envelop the social hall as students urge their representatives forward. One student from every school competes in a jeopardy style tournament as all their classmates cheer from the crowd. From homemade signs to cheers to cartwheels, every student there made an effort to make their school stand out above the rest. In a close contest, Ian McWherter and PCO walked away deserved winners, while UMSL received a fine consolation in the best spirit award. However, the event was not about winning or losing, it was about showing pride within all of our colleagues across the country who did us all proud. The adrenaline did not die after the Student Bowl, but grew as we all enjoyed refreshments after the event and celebrated long into the night at a private club rented out by the AOSA just for Optometry students.
Friday June 17th 2011
Most of today was similar to yesterday, with the convention center a huge buzz of activity and information. Attendees had more opportunity to explore the exhibit hall, enter more raffles (more free samples and t-shirts), and interact with industry professionals. Another important highlight of the conference that wasn’t covered yesterday is the availability of tons of continuing education courses. These courses go on all over the Salt Palace and cover anything and everything related to optometry. From corneal ulcers to practice management, you can learn about pretty much anything here in Salt Lake City. Some examples of CE are – “InfantSEE: A Primer Into Infant Vision for the Optometric Student and New Practitioner,” / “Interactive Optometry – What’s That Red Eye?” and “Video Pathology” on most common and useful clinical cases and pathophysiology behind each of the eye diseases was discussed.
The classes are insightful and educational, and while not mandatory for students, they’re worth checking out. Although attendees have potentially heard some of the information prior, hearing it a different way can be helpful to understanding the material and bettering yourself as a professional. In particular, students should consider attending the practice management courses in these events, because while optometry school may give you the knowledge to practice optometry, they don’t really teach how to run a practice.
Saturday June 18th 2011
Saturday, the convention was coming to an end. It was the last chance to visit the exhibit booths and see Utah. Sponsored by HOYA, the Presidential Celebration Presidential Celebration featured Wayne Brady from the hit improve show “Who’s line is it anyway.” The skits he performed, with students and doctors from the audience who volunteered, were hilarious. The Presidential Celebration was followed by a dessert reception where students got a chance to mingle with other students as well as doctors and the AOA administration.
We’re beyond ecstatic for attending the AOA meeting this year and definitely plan on making it for all the upcoming years. We learned a great deal of information and met many wonderful people. Most importantly, we developed a greater sense and appreciation for our profession and the struggles that AOA goes through to make it happen for us. It just goes to show the necessity of us being pro-active too.
We encourage all students to attend future meetings to meet your colleagues and practicing optometrists to discuss the current state of the profession. It was both a great educational, and networking opportunity.
Final lesson, it’s never too early to become active and involved. Hope to see you next year in Chicago!
A MESSAGE FROM THE OS.COM TEAM — “The bottom line is, we were more than proud to represent and advocate for OptometryStudents.com, a website that we firmly believe in as a powerful resource for everyone in the optometric field. We only anticipate it growing from here, and thus we are even more than happy to be a part of the OptometryStudents.com team.” – The OS.com Team