As the resident liaison for the Optometric Extension Program (OEP), I had the opportunity to attend the 20th anniversary of the Conference on Clinical Vision Care (CCVC) (also known as “The Memphis Meeting”) in Memphis this past July. The conference welcomes optometrists, students and residents who practice or have an interest in behavioral optometry, and the mission and goal of the meeting is to attain a call for action to further the profession of optometry.
When I first came to this meeting, I didn’t know what to expect. As a new graduate just starting a residency in vision therapy, I was a little shy and apprehensive to be surrounded by such well-known doctors in the behavioral optometry world. However, what I got out of this meeting was more than what I imagined.
The group was relatively small, providing a more intimate setting for learning. It consisted of about forty doctors, students, and residents from all over the world. The meeting highlighted specific aspects of behavioral optometry and challenged attendees to think about how these concepts can be incorporated into their mode of practice. On the first day, we were given the theme of the meeting, “Errors, Expected, and Competencies…According to Whom?” I learned that every year for the past twenty years, a different theme is presented to the group that has three subsequent open-ended questions proposed for discussion for each day of the meeting. Dr. Paul Harris, President of OEP, opened the meeting with an introduction. He explained the way the meeting works where we are broken up into four groups that incorporate “simple sharing,” “reverent listening,” and “corporate sharing” into our discussion.
Simple sharing means that when the question is presented, each person of the group gives their own input and opinions on the question presented. Reverent listening means that when each person shares, there is an understanding that everyone listens to his or her viewpoints without interruption. Corporate sharing happens after simple sharing and reverent listening when the group acknowledges common understandings and viewpoints. After this, each group presents their commonalities which opens the floor for questions and more thoughts among the entire group.
Communication is a key element in this conference. The meeting thrives on the active input of ideas, knowledge, and experiences, and everyone is expected to contribute. The members in my group ranged from an incoming first year optometry student to a past president of OEP. It was interesting to see how such different experiences can come together to a common understanding!
After Saturday’s meeting, we all went out to dinner at a popular barbecue restaurant on the infamous Beale Street in Memphis that had a live blues band. The barbecue ribs were unbelievably delicious and like nothing I’ve ever had before. It was the fall-off-the-bone and melt-in-your-mouth kind of delicious! Afterwards, we walked around Beale Street, which was full of people, entertainers, bars, and restaurants. It was my first trip to Memphis and I was amazed at all the culture and diversity on one street.
To me, CCVC was a mindful social gathering with deep thought-provoking discussions and unlike other meetings I have attended. I didn’t feel like I was in a lecture setting where a doctor stands in front with a power point and the audience sits and take notes. I didn’t feel like I didn’t know as much as the other doctors. Everyone was treated as colleagues and everyone had a voice. I had conversations that included optometry and some that went beyond that to music, art and literature. If you want to have a voice, share ideas, and learn from other optometrists, students and residents from all walks of life, this meeting is one you won’t want to miss!