This article is part three in a continuing series that looks closely behind the scenes of optometry student organizations through the eyes of passionate student leaders. Jenna Osseck, a third year at University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry and President of the local student chapter of the Missouri Optometric Association shares her experiences being involved at the state level. If fighting to help increase your scope of practice in your state is a cause you are passionate about, consider a leadership position in your state optometric organization!
If you’re interested in reading about any of the other great ways to get involved while in optometry school, check out one of our other organization leadership articles.
For over 20 years, the Missouri Optometric Student Association (MOSA) has provided a connection between optometry students and the Missouri Optometric Association (MOA). At the University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry, MOSA officers include one President, Vice-President, and Treasurer/Secretary who work year-round to promote both the student association and state association (MOA). The MOA, which was founded in 1901, serves more than 500 members across the state of Missouri. Goals of the MOA are to represent the optometric profession to government, promote continued optometric education, and to improve the quality, availability, and accessibility of eye and vision care.
Paralleling the MOA’s views, the mission of the MOSA is to foster students’ passion for involvement in their future profession, and to allow an easy transition into optometric practice in each student’s respective state. If you enjoy learning about organized optometry, legislative advances in optometry, and being involved in your community, MOSA is a perfect fit for you!
In order to promote the future of the profession, MOSA’s goals are focused on illustrating the mechanisms of organized optometry and third parties. The organization also focuses on the necessity of becoming involved in optometric groups as early as possible. MOSA helps students develop leadership abilities and networking skills by providing a multitude of events throughout the year. These events give students the advice, knowledge and enthusiasm they need to be successful throughout their academic and professional careers.
UMSL students at the 2013 MOA Legislative Conference. From left to right: Jenna Osseck (MOSA President), Elizabeth Phillips (MOSA President-elect), Kevin Hoang (c/o 2013), Emily Pike (MOSA Immediate Past President), and Ashley Liverar (c/o 2014).
Opportunities for students to get involved include state-wide conferences, community vision screenings, Special Olympics-Lion’s Club eye examinations, guest speakers, and interactions with established optometrists. Some of the most popular events are the annual Missouri Optometric Association Convention, which provides optometry students with learning experiences to promote leadership skills, networking abilities, and career development. The Leadership Legislative Conference offers students a chance to witness and be a part of the interactions between optometrists and state government. The conference also serves thousands of Special Olympics athletes at the Missouri State Games each spring by offering free eye examinations and glasses.
Being a part of local state associations allows students to be hands-on in the community and witness first-hand the impact they can make in the area working alongside practicing optometrists. MOSA strives to continually provide students with new opportunities and events to allow students to gain experience that will prepare them for life as an OD after graduation. MOA is there to bridge the gap from student to doctor. There is something to be gained for everyone by working with your local state organization, so find an opportunity near you and get involved!