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2B or not 2B

September 20, 2012

I was doing an exam the other day on an English professor from a local university, and I must admit I made a terrible joke. When I do my distance dissociated phorias, I isolate the letter “B” on the 20/40 line and using prism show the patient two pictures of that letter “B.” I then ask the patient if he or she sees both letter Bs. With this patient I said I am going to quote Hamlet, and I asked him if he saw “two Bs or not two Bs.” Fortunately, he was very bright and he caught my double entendre. He was also kind enough to chuckle. Maybe it was late in the day, maybe it was because of practicing 30 years, maybe it was one of those days; I don’t know what made me connect that quote to my test. And, yes, I admit I am thinking about changing the letter I use for dissociated phorias.

I do enjoy quotes. They are each a nugget of wisdom, and while they can’t always tell us what to do they are valuable to reflect upon. When I started my volunteer career for my profession, I heard several comments at my first Texas Optometry Association Board meeting, which I wrote down. By collecting those over the years, I now have a book of my favorite quotes. For example, after the judge’s ruling on the AOS/ABO lawsuit, I thought of a quote attributed to Dale Earnhart: “You win some, you lose some, and you wreck some.”

A couple of weeks ago, as I read and replied to several emails that were sent me in response the announcement of the ruling on the AOS/ ABO lawsuit, I thought again about the Hamlet quote and the question: “To be or not to be?” I think that is really the question before all of us, before each of us, now. Specifically, do we go forward or get trapped by one issue and stagnate?

I have listened to the concerns of members and their point of view. Some docs are upset because they really don’t see a need for board certification for optometry or don’t like the way it is structured, some don’t like that their state leaders didn’t vote the way they wanted, some wanted more time to make a decision, some wanted every optometrist to vote on the issue, some don’t want to take a test, some think it favors older docs and some think it favors younger docs, some are upset because they think everyone should do a residency first, and some are upset that it favors residencies, some think it is too easy and some think it is too hard, and some are upset that as a non-member they didn’t get any say. Shoot, some are upset because we didn’t pass it 10 years earlier. I do get it. But whatever their perspective, the decision has been made, the judge has ruled and board certification is here to stay. Each of us needs to agree to disagree and move forward.

Fortunately, I am very pleased to report that the numbers who are still trapped by the board certification issue seem to be few and, with this definitive ruling by the federal court, I am now seeing the profession come together and move forward. It is time. I am pleased we are deciding as a profession “to be.”

So let’s look forward. In front of us we have serious challenges to our profession, our practices and our patients. We have the revolutionary changes occurring in health care—some of which we are already each experiencing daily in our practices. Your AOA is led by volunteers who want the best for our profession today—while we focus on our future. The AOA is dedicated to putting patients in your exam chair, pushing for fair reimbursement and allowing you to do what you are trained to do. No one else does that for you and certainly not as inexpensively.

Together we can handle these changes. As I close today, I am reminded of two more quotes I recorded over the years. One is from Charles Darwin who observed: “It’s not the strongest who survive, or the most intelligent, but the one who is responsive to change.” The AOA is committed to helping our members adapt to and flourish with the coming changes.

The lawsuit is over. Board certification is here to stay, and I encourage each of you to seriously consider taking the exam before the window of opportunity to benefit from your years of experience expires. Yes, Desiree, my wife, and I each took the exam, and we each learned a huge amount that clearly made us better optometrists. That extra practical knowledge has helped our patients and our practices, and that is really the value, in my mind, of doing board certification. Sure, we enjoy the better status we have with third-party payers and the extra money we get from Medicare. And we benefit from the image and confidence it gives our patients, but even after 30 years of practice, it has made us better.

So the last quote I offer you today as our profession decides if we are to be or not to be comes from Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes: “Today you can get better, or you can get worse, but you won’t stay the same.” Ours is a great profession, but we have a lot of opportunity today to be better. Let’s agree to disagree. Let’s decide “to be.”

Ronald Hopping, O.D., MPH
AOA president

One comment

  1. Well written President Hopping! See you next week at GWCO.



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