17 May 2008

Maryland Optometry--Understanding our Mission & Vision for the Future!

Fellow Maryland Optometrists,
I have been asked by several of my colleagues to include in my blog, some history behind our joint CE program with the University of Maryland. I understand that many of you have valid concerns as to why the MOA would promote and sponsor this program. Maryland has a long history of being the last state to have DPA's passed, and continues to be behind the rest of the country in other legislation. However we were approached by an MOA member stating that the University of Maryland Ophthalmology Department came to him and wanted to"mend fences". Our member volunteered to organize the event and we decided to move forward and support him. We have just had a wonderful event with Wilmer/JHU which was well received by all. We need to promote a better understanding of optometry and the services that we are capable of providing. Your MOA Board would like to ask everyone to consider attending, most of the speakers are new to University of Maryland and a strong attendance could help us in future efforts. I know that I, the current President of the MOA will attend. I sincerely wanted to attend the Wilmer event on March 30th but a scheduling conflict prevented me from attending.
To give you some brief history, last year the MOA Board was presented with two groups, Wilmer/JHU, and the University of Maryland that wanted to work with us to create two educational programs. I being the President-Elect of the MOA at the time was not overly enamored by either proposal. I was not against working with either group, but felt that our more primary educational need was to initiate and promote an education program in the DC Maryland Suburban area, e.g. the new Marriott North Bethesda Convention Center. My reasons were that Montgomery and PG Counties were very important counties that we have long neglected. Years ago we used to rotate our convention between Rockville and the Baltimore Inner Harbor. While I agree that it makes sense to keep our annual convention in Baltimore every year, I would contend that we need to have a yearly major program in Montgomery or PG County. They are by far the largest counties in the state of Maryland by population. Also, I would argue that it contains the largest group of young optometrists who could be potential future members. Furthermore, many of our legislative issues are becoming more Federal in nature. In spite of my reservations I was in full support of the MOA collaborating with Wilmer/JHU and the University of Maryland. We had volunteers eager to take on the projects and it gave us the opportunity to work with two of the most important groups in Maryland Health Care. My desire to have a program closer to where I reside in North Bethesda/Rockville could still be done at another time.
Two weeks ago I attended the AOA Spring Planning Meeting in St Louis that serves as the meeting site for all of the AOA volunteer committees, and the 18 month planning session for the AOA President-Elect Peter Kehoe. If people remember Peter from his visit to Baltimore a few years ago, you will remember how personable and helpful Peter always is. One of Peter's comments was that the AOA needs to move past being a parochial, optometric association to being a true national health care organization. The AOA has been very involved in its Healthy Eyes Healthy People 2010 project. For the first time in its history, vision care has been part of the Healthy People national health care agenda. I was the first HEHP consultant for the state of Maryland working with Lisa McGinn, O.D. on the training program for school nurses. Nina Doyle, O.D. is our current HEHP respresentative for Maryland. Nina has really taken the program to new heights. For some general information about the HEHP program please visit this site: http://www.nei.nih.gov/news/pressreleases/060100.asp
A major goal of the HEHP program is forming alliances and collaborations with different organizations including opthalmology groups. Certainly Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland are two of the most important groups in the state of Maryland. I understand that we have a long history and many concerns but dialogue, improved communications, and improved collaboration can only be beneficial. I am sure that we will continue to have ups and downs, but we need to start somewhere. Being a 1989 graduate of SUNY Optometry I came to Maryland a year after DPA's were passed in Annapolis, so I am very familiary with much of our history. If former Intel Chairman Gordon Moore's Law is correct then in the next 3-5 years we will undergo as much change as a profession as what has happened since DPA's were first passed in Maryland. Much of that change we know is coming like Electronic Medical Records (EMR's), pay for performance, and other major health care changes on the horizon. Many of the optometrists and ophthalmologists in Maryland will soon be of an age where they were not even born in the 1980's.
Lastly, I would like to encourage anyone who can attend our conference on June 8th to please consider attending. A good attendance is important for everyone involved. At our most recent CMOS meeting I attended and addressed the group about Board Certification and all the controversy--please see the previous blog. I had heard that there was much discussion at the recent GBOS and AAOS meetings that I was unable to attend. I was surprised that there were very few concerns amongst most of the CMOS and OSDC members. Although, perhaps it was a less outspoken group. Afterwards, I did speak to a few people who had valid concerns, and a few others who were very emotional about the issue. After a brief discussion, I would guess that some were very emotional without knowing all of the facts? Then I spoke to an old friend Monroe Stokvis who to my surprise told me that he reads every word of my newsletters, and blogs. He kind of scared me by that. I have always admired Monroe and many of our senior OD's in Maryland for making sure they are educated and aware of the important topics in optometry. I want to caution those who are very passionate about about various causes to make sure that they, like Dr. Stokvis have their facts straight.
In conclusion I often think back to my college days studying philosphy under Dr. Daniel Robinson, now at Oxford Univiersity. He often talked about Socrates and his belief that the Unexamined Life is not worth living. That indeed the integration of our experiences constitutes a veritable life subject to refinement by self-criticism and reflection. The experiences have to have a validity and truthfulness about them or we are living the life of a slave. Dr. Robinson would often quote Aristotle and the end of his treatise on politics saying, Dioper aneu orexeos nous o nomos estin. "The Law is therefore reason without passion." We must be careful that our passions do not override our reason. It is important to build relationships and better understanding. Please consider coming to our program with the University of Maryland Ophthalmologists on June 8th. It will be great!


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