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John F. Kennedy was quoted as saying, "Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." Itís amazing to me how much change has occurred within the profession of optometry since I received my license to practice. After licensure, I quickly learned that I had enjoyed a broader scope of practice as a student in Tennessee than I would have as a licensed practicing optometrist in Illinois. At the time, Illinois was one of the few states left where optometrists still did not have oral prescriptive authority. I feel very fortunate to now have the privilege to prescribe oral medications. Thank goodness for change!

On the flip side, Illinois is now one of the few states that require all children entering kindergarten to have a comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. This new law has been in effect for almost two years, and I have experienced firsthand the added value that my fellow colleagues and I are bringing to young children starting kindergarten. Undetected refractive disorders and amblyopia shall no longer be a contributing factor to delayed learning for the children of Illinois. Thank goodness for change!

As I take a long look at these two monumental changes for Illinois optometry, it is clear that, legislatively speaking, this required the efforts of many optometrists, but more importantly, it required a cohesive, unified voice from within the profession to make these positive changes happen.

Organized optometry has been getting a lot of heat lately because of the recent controversy surrounding the mandate of board certification. While my opinion regarding this topic will remain undisclosed in this forum, I am very passionate about the importance of everyone continuing to support their state associations regardless of their opinion of this new piece of

 

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legislation. So many of the legislative victories optometry has seen have been the result of our colleagues’ ability to work together for the greater good of the profession. It worries me a great deal that the strength of organized optometry could be compromised as a result of varied individual opinion regarding the outcome of the board certification mandate.

Since you are the future of our profession, organized optometry needs your leadership and your support to continue to keep optometry strong. My personal experience regarding Illinois’ new oral prescriptive authority is a classic reminder that this expanded scope of practice victory is the result of strong and tenacious organized leadership efforts. Furthermore, these legislative victories have granted me privileges which are definitely not an entitlement or a guarantee.

I challenge each of you to think about where optometry is going rather than where it has been or where it is today. It is safe to say that no one knows what the future holds for healthcare reform or board certification and its direct impact on optometry, but one thing that is certain is that change for our profession is inevitable. Even if you "agree to disagree" on the recent outcome of the board certification ruling, please remember that organized optometry’s leadership will be more effective with everyone’s support regardless of opinion.

"Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success." –Henry Ford

 


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