Advocacy. You may have heard this buzz word being used a lot lately in the optometric community. But why? What does it mean? And more importantly, what does it have to do with you?
Simply put, advocacy is the act of support for a particular cause. It is the backbone and pillar for the expansion of scope practices and advancement of the optometric profession. Of the four pillars on which the American Optometric Association (AOA) builds its foundation, advocacy is one of them. Focusing their efforts on state, federal, third party center, and health policy institute has allowed the AOA to make continual progress in the quality of care that doctors are able to provide their patients.
So now that you know what advocacy is and the important role that it plays, how do you get involved? There are a number of ways students and even pre-optometry students can advocate for the optometric profession. Several options include joining your state association, writing to your state legislators regarding policies involving optometry, and attending the single-largest advocacy event of the year, AOA on Capitol Hill. This one-of-a-kind conference is about building and strengthening connections with elected federal representatives. The tremendous growth and impact of AOA on Capitol Hill is a key reason why the AOA is recognized as one of the most effective, respected lobbying groups in the nation’s capital. Last year, more than 500 doctors and students gathered on Capitol Hill in support of optometry.
This year, AOA on Capitol Hill will take place virtually September 9-10, 2020. This event is open to all advocacy-minded students and those interested in learning more about what it means to advocate for the optometric profession. There is no better time than now to test the waters with some of these larger conferences now that they have gone virtual and waived all registration fees! With free registration and no travel expenses, this is an event you can’t afford to miss.