Eye on Education

A Message from ASCO's Outgoing President, Dr. David Damari

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As we wrap up another academic year, I am about to ascend to one of the sweetest titles associated with serving on volunteer boards — immediate past president. In all seriousness though, it has been my honor to serve as the president of ASCO for these last two years.

Serving in this way has allowed me to represent the profession I love at several different healthcare and eye care meetings, and some leadership meetings. It has also been my pleasure to work closely with the outstanding staff at ASCO.They are all dedicated professionals who go above and beyond the call for our mission.

The amount that ASCO volunteers and staff have accomplished in the past two years is staggering. The strategic planning progress begun under Dr. Zadnik’s presidency has been completed and several of the key initiatives in the plan are well under way. The Subspecialty Task Force has done some great work with the American Academy of Optometry to develop credible pathways to acknowledge what has been true in our profession for some time, namely, that some of our colleagues have advanced competence at some narrow area of our increasingly broad scope of practice. We have worked with the Academy and the Association of Regulatory Boards in Optometry to develop a new governance structure for COPE at ARBO’s invitation and after years of negotiation, and we continue to be hopeful that the AOA will be able to join that agreement in the coming years.

In response to the developing anemia of the applicant pool for our programs, we have begun the largest marketing and public awareness campaign in ASCO’s history, “Optometry Gives Me Life.” Every member of ASCO has contributed at substantial levels to make this campaign possible. I want to thank Dr. Lewis Reich for agreeing to take the lead on this enormous task and all of the deans and presidents of our member institutions for recognizing the growing threat to the future of our profession that this decline represents and for having the courage to approve the special dues assessment to fund this campaign.

ASCO is developing new programs of education for our faculty and administrators. This will build on the enormous success of the Summer Institute for Faculty Development, which will run for the eighth time this summer in Fort Worth. Dr. Stephanie Messner is leading a task force to develop new leadership training for members of our faculty and administrative teams that we see as the future leaders of our institutions and the profession. I foresee a time when ASCO offers seminars, programs, and events to further the professional development for faculty, staff, and perhaps even students who are looking to improve their effectiveness at various aspects of the educational enterprise in our institutions.

Finally, ASCO hosted the most comprehensive discussion about the future of our profession, and optometric education’s place in that future, since the Optometry 2020 meetings in Dallas in the mid-2000s. Opening Our Eyes was a frank, very participatory discussion that I found very enlightening. I was gratified by the engagement of everyone in the room and it gave me great hope for the future of optometry. I look forward to the initiatives that will undoubtedly develop as a result of that discussion, and also to volunteering in other ways for this organization and optometric education in the years to come.


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