AOA, affiliates part of SCO’s fifth State DayFebruary 8, 2013
Touting the importance of the legislative process and the need for students to become involved with their professional associations, AOA representatives, state optometric leaders and legislators visited the Southern College of Optometry (SCO) in Memphis, Tenn., for its fifth annual State Day event Jan. 9.
AOA Secretary-Treasurer Steve Loomis, O.D., led off the day’s program by highlighting legislative milestones in optometry, the changing role of optometry in health care delivery, and the importance of maintaining a strong optometric profession.
“What a great opportunity to participate in State Day at SCO,” said Dr. Loomis. “It was a particular pleasure to address the student body about the need for an organization that advocates for optometry and our patients. With the unprecedented changes ahead for both health care and the demographics of the nation, it is critical that optometry maintain our strong advocacy efforts for future generations of optometrists and patients alike. It was so gratifying to be among so many optometry students who ‘get it’ when it comes to understanding the need to support the only organization that supports their profession.”
A group of current and former lawmakers spoke to students during the full day of panels and networking opportunities first launched by SCO in 2009 as “State Day.”
- Louisiana State Sen. David Heitmeier, O.D.
- Tennessee State Rep. Gary Odom, who also serves as executive director of the Tennessee Association of Optometric Physicians
- Alabama State Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow, husband of Martha Rosemore Morrow, O.D., Optometry Cares® -The AOA Foundation past president and SCO Board of Trustees member
- Former Missouri State Rep. Terry Swinger, O.D., who served 10 years in the Missouri legislature
The legislators each discussed their role as lawmakers and their interactions with the profession of optometry.
Sen. Heitmeier shared his belief that optometry is one of the most caring health care professions. He recalled how optometrists across the nation were the first to volunteer aid after his Louisiana practice was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Hundreds of students networked with the lawmakers and representatives of 14 associations, getting firsthand testimonials stressing the importance of optometry students becoming involved with their state and professional associations early in their careers.
- Alabama: Dr. Morrow, Mark Shirey, O.D., and Rep. Morrow
- Arkansas: Vicki Farmer, Rusty Simmons, O.D., and Matt Jones, O.D.
- Colorado: Dr. Loomis
- Georgia: Tom Spetalnick, O.D., and Kelly Spetalnick, O.D.
- Illinois: Michael Hortsman, Charleen Marsh, and Jeff Kempf, O.D.
- Iowa: Amanda Wood, O.D., and Jarod Wood, O.D.
- Kentucky: Steve Compton, O.D., Amanda Higdon, O.D., and Brett Abney, O.D.
- Louisiana: James Sandefur, O.D., William Gordon, O.D., and State Sen. Heitmeier
- Missouri: Dr. Swinger
- Mississippi: Greg Loose, O.D., and Brad Thompson, O.D.
- Tennessee: Tonya Reynoldson, O.D., David Talley, O.D., and Rep. Odom
- South Carolina: John W.L. Smith, O.D., and Michael Campbell, O.D.
- West Virginia: Rebecca St. Jean, O.D.
- Texas: Mario Contaldi, O.D., and Fred Farias, O.D.
- AOA: Stacey Liles and Rick Savoy, O.D., former faculty representative to the AOA.