Giving thanks

December 15, 2011

This is the time of year when I find myself reflecting back and thinking of what I’m thankful for – things like my family, friends, time at home to reconnect with people I care about and the fact that it’s early December and there’s still no snow on the ground outside!

I’m thankful for the opportunity to visit the White House yet again this year. The most recent visit was to deliver the Joint Statement developed by the School Readiness Summit held last April. We had 31 different organizations sign the statement, which calls for comprehensive eye exams to be the foundation of children’s care, in order to make sure that they have every chance to succeed in school.

I’m thankful for our volunteer optometrists who step up to help when they’re asked. Specifically, I’m thankful for Drs. Sandy Bury, Valerie Kattouf, Cliff Scott, Paul Levine, Linda Casser, Carey Patrick, Andrea Thau, Rodolfo Rodriguez, Rich Wilson, Tom Spetalnick, Alan Homestead, Steve Loomis, Walter Morton, Hilary Hawthorne and Scott Daly. You see, these folks rearranged their schedules to attend listening sessions conducted by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services in Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas, New York, Kansas City, Atlanta, Seattle, Denver and San Francisco. We had an optometrist speaking on behalf of the AOA’s own proposal to define pediatric vision care at EVERY session. These individuals spoke of the importance of comprehensive eye exams for children of all ages and urged that the new pediatric vision care essential benefit be based on direct access to and coverage for an annual comprehensive eye exam provided by an eye doctor, including the necessary follow-up care.

I’m thankful for AOA staff. I have always had an appreciation for the work the AOA staff does on optometry’s behalf, but never as much as I have had these last few months as president. The research they do and the documents they craft in response to some very technical issues amaze me. A group familiar enough with health care reform to be able to cite specific codes in reference to our formal responses is invaluable. We have more than 100 AOA staff members who support us and optometry on a daily basis.

I’m thankful for the family of optometry. Recently I sent an e-mail to 16,000 members. I was overwhelmed with the number of responses I received as a result. Some were very short and humorous (thank you for those who made me laugh!), while others were more involved responses. Nearly every one included comments of support and agreed that optometry needed to define optometry. Those responses solidified my belief in our efforts for the full integration of optometry with primary health care.

I’m thankful for my profession. I’m proud to be a part of a profession that has a special bond. Sometimes we don’t always agree, but do you know ANY FAMILY who always is in agreement? Over the years, I’ve told my boys that if something were to happen to them (insert here the things you tell your own kids, when bad things happen.) they should find an optometrist. If they were in trouble and identified themselves as the children of two optometrists, I would find it hard to believe my colleagues wouldn’t help. How many professions can say that?

I’m thankful for the AOA Board of Trustees. This board, like others in recent years, is incredibly dedicated to our profession. They donate hundreds of hours, and as many days on the road, representing our profession, reading through documents to make informed decisions, and making decisions on how best to represent optometry. Their knowledge and commitment is second to none, and the diversity that each brings to the table is essential.

Most of all, I’m thankful for my family. This week I will miss two basketball games, my 12-year-old playing his saxophone at the Advent service, my 15-year-old leading the same service, and the elementary Christmas concert at school because of my travel commitments for AOA. My husband has once again rearranged his patient schedule to cover for me. They know the commitment. They know the issues. This is part of the job. Without their support, this job would be much more difficult, if not impossible. My only consolation is that I will bring all three of my boys with me to Washington, D.C., next week when I am there again on optometry’s behalf. 

And so, I count my blessings and reflect on yet another year. I wish each of you a holiday season complete with happiness, peace and hearts filled with joy.

Dori Carlson, O.D.
AOA president

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