President’s Message

Some years ago, I was talking with another optometrist about the monetary value of COA membership when she made a poignant statement that’s stayed with me ever since. It was a simple point that propelled me to pay my dues without reluctance or at least, with much less reluctance.

After I’d commented on the cost of dues, she replied by asking, “But how much does a lawyer cost?” Then she said, “COA functions as our lawyers. It keeps our profession operating at the legislative level.”

I was quick to realize that lawyers are expensive, and that my dues payment was a bargain relative to legal bills. My optometrist friend was illustrating how our profession is a legislated profession: legislation can make us or break us, and the laws that define us are under constant adversarial pressure. In addition, it’s our responsibility to adapt and advance with the times both as a collective profession and as individuals, to continually increase the care we’re able to provide our patients. All of this has a monetary cost, and our collective dues make the endeavor affordable to us.

Our ability to organize as an Association gives us legitimacy in the eyes of politicians. The very existence of our ability to practice is based on state laws, and while we’re relatively powerless as individual optometrists, we have a strong voice as an organization.

There are countries in the world where optometry flourishes; there are other countries where it doesn’t even exist. It all depends on the laws in place and on our ability to make ourselves heard. As organized OD’s we are the COA.

With that being said, I wanted to give you all a brief outline of some of the membership benefits you may not be aware of:

  • AOA and COA are constantly fighting legislative battles to protect our profession. These include initiatives to improve our reimbursements and prevent cuts in reimbursement, allow ODs to be included in certain federal incentive programs, and prevent discrimination of ODs on insurance panels.
  • The recent successful passage of AB 443 has expanded our scope of practice. Additionally, last year, because of COA, California became the only state to allow TPA-certified OD’s to administer flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccinations.
  • Think About Your Eyes is an exclusive public information marketing campaign offered by the AOA and available to COA members at a reduced fee.
  • COA offers a free, continually-growing library of in-depth fact sheets addressing a wide variety of scope of practice and practice operation topics.
  • The Member Media Center (MMC) through the COA website offers content for members to use in their newsletters and social media sites to help inform the public about important eye issues.
  • COA has a Member Resource Center in which there are dedicated COA staff members who are available to answer common practice-related questions- from the steps to take to get on a health plan’s medical panel, to employment and workers’ compensation issues.
  • Eyelearn is an online benefit exclusively offered to AOA members that is comprised of an easy-to-use centralized online learning resource with access to journal articles, webinars, practice management resources, etc.
  • Business and Career Success webinars are offered by AOA with topics including medical records and coding, HIPAA updates, PQRS, malpractice, etc.
  • COA provides constant updates on various topics with Government Affairs Weekly emails, California Optometry (the official publication of the COA), COA Member News monthly newsletter, AOA’s daily First Look and weekly AOA Focus e-newsletters, and the monthly AOA Focus magazine.
  • Discounts on continuing education events including Monterey Symposium, OptoWest, and AOA’s Optometry’s Meeting.
  • Opportunities for free continuing education (12 hours annually) through articles in California Optometry as well as further CE online through CE@HomeOnline
  • Great deals as COA members from Vision West buying group. Insurance programs through Mercer Insurance, and exclusive discounts for members on professional liability, workers’ comp, cyber liability, etc.
  • To ensure state and federal compliance with labor laws, COA provides discounted subscriptions for mandatory posters.
  • As a COA member there is an opportunity to enroll staff as AOA and COA Paraoptometric Members at no charge to aid in enhancing the skills and productivity of your staff.
  • AOAExcel’s Medical Record and Coding Services allows you to consult an expert with questions regarding accurate choices for procedure and diagnosis codes, changes in Medicare coding policies, ICD-10 preparation and conversion, and participation in PQRS through AskTheCodingExperts@ExcelOD.com
  • As an AOA and COA member you are listed on each website under the Find An Eye Doc search portals to assist the public in finding an you.
  • Optometry’s Career Center through AOA provides a great placement service for opportunities throughout the lifecycle of a practice.
  • The Legal Service Resources Program provides members up to one-half hour (30 minutes) of telephone and research work per month with an attorney at no cost. The program offers services that will assist members in areas of the law related the practice of optometry including Licensure, Business Taxes, Regulatory and Contract Issues to name a few.

Please utilize these tools! Our membership fees provide us with plenty of great opportunities that we should all take full advantage of. Not only are we protecting our profession by being a member of AOA, COA, and SDCOS, but we also are empowering ourselves with access to resources that allow us to succeed on a daily basis.

President’s Message

Greetings and Happy New Year 2019! I hope that each of you has had a relaxing holiday season with your families and friends, and I wish you success in the coming year. As your new San Diego County Optometric Society president I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to help make this the best possible year in our excellent optometric society.

Over the years I’ve gained so much professionally and personally from my membership in SDCOS. It is indeed an honor for me to be in the position to give back. We have a great group of doctors on our Board of Directors and I am excited for all that we are going to accomplish together.

My gratitude goes to Dr. Michael Morgan for his steadfast leadership as President last year. I have admired all of the attention to detail and leadership responsibilities he’s undertaken and completed.  He has solidly earned our Society’s nomination for COA Young Optometrist of the Year. Congratulations to you, Dr Morgan!

Thank you to the entire Board of Directors for the dedication to our profession that you constantly project. You continually make SDCOS the finest optometric society anywhere, with excellence in community service, exemplary optometric leadership, and service to our membership with continuing education and professional enhancement. Additionally, the entire Society membership must be thanked and congratulated for choosing to become and remain members. It is our common desire to have a rich professional life outside our individual practice environments, and for this reason SDCOS remains a treasured organization for all of us.

As your Society president, I am committed to maintaining the tradition of SDCOS and performing to the highest level of service, both to our member doctors and to the public.  I will maintain the legacy of decades of great optometrists who worked to create the fine society that we have today. Our Board of Directors has already planned out our 2019 meetings, which include six two-hour evening CE events and three five-hour weekend CE events. These gatherings are complete with a delicious meal, an expert speaker, and important fellowship with your colleagues. Many great ophthalmic businesspeople and vendors attend our meetings, allowing us access to their companies’ products and services. I encourage you to attend all of the CE meetings this year!

In addition, please plan on contributing to the many volunteer outreach programs within our Society that will allow you to provide community service via eyecare to the public. This includes our Lions Optometric Vision Clinic and our Monarch School Screenings, to name just two. Moreover, you can join us for our annual COA Legislative Day in Sacramento when we come together to encourage our elected state assemblypersons and state senators to support our profession. So many of our members currently volunteer and are actively involved, and your participation effects positive change. Thank you to those who currently volunteer. I encourage all of our members to take advantage of these community service and leadership programs: our community will benefit from your dedication to the profession of optometry in San Diego County, and I’m certain you will find them to be personally fulfilling as well.

Finally, I bring up a challenge to our membership that is vitally important to the morale and health of our Society: Invite your colleagues to join. Introduce yourself to new members who do join. Don’t be shy! Our Society is fortunate to have a diverse mix of newly minted and veteran practitioners. Each group has the opportunity to benefit from each other’s unique knowledge and skill sets. Professional camaraderie is the essence of local society membership and expands each member’s network. Through your active SDCOS relationships, enjoy your profession of optometry and strive to optimize your own career.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your SDCOS president. I look forward to all that we will accomplish together this year. I will make myself available for any questions, comments, and ideas so our society can continue to grow and thrive. I am confident that together we will have a fantastic year!

President’s Message

As the year is quickly coming to a close, writing this last President’s Message has given me the opportunity to pause and reflect back on 2018.  For me, both on a personal and professional level, this year was one of dynamic change and growth.  Serving as the President of the San Diego County Optometric Society has been challenging but rewarding, and I will look back on this experience with a smile.  More so now than ever, I have a greater respect for Nancy-Jo and the Doctors in our society who have given up their time to help make everything that SDCOS does, continue and grow.  I want to give a huge thank you to the 2018 SDCOS Board Members for all their help this year: Drs. Ketan Bakriwala,  Robert Grazian, Michelle Biaggi, Wendy Gross, Amanda Dexter, Dick Skay, Dave Sherman, Andrew Fasciani, Paul Lavin, Nickolet Boermans, Lucia Millet, Susan Cervantes, Bob Meisel, John Fitzpatrick, Erin Swift, Eric White, David Ardakani.  I want to also thank and acknowledge our trustees for 2018: Drs. David Wong and Patty Cheng.

Before I hand over the speakers microphone for the last time to Dr. Robert Grazian, who will be an incredible President for SDCOS next year, I wanted to mention a couple of final items of business for 2018.  I would like to encourage and welcome any Doctors in the society who would like to join the Board of Directors for 2019.  We have Trustee positions available to any Doctor who wants to donate their time to benefit all our members and to become accustomed to the behind the seems work that makes SDCOS such a great society.  Through new volunteers we can continue to bring greater perspective and growth to the society and carry its traditions into the future and for everyone’s benefit.

Finally I want to encourage everyone to attend the Holiday Party.  This year it will be at the San Diego Zoo.  Hope to see everyone there and again thank you all for a great year for SDCOS.  It was my honor and pleasure to be the President for 2018.  Happy Holidays!

President’s Message

The focus of the President’s Message this month is on a big change coming to the type of Optometry many of us practice.  We all chose the field of Optometry for our own reasons and we are lucky enough to have a profession that will allow us to practice in a variety of different modalities and settings. A new law, that replaces the current Branch Office Law, was signed by Governor Jerry Brown and will take effect January 1st, 2019.  Here is a summary of the Senate Bill (SB) 1386 and the changes to take effect at the start of next year.

The Old (2018 and previous) Law: States that an Optometrist must be in personal attendance at each of their offices, 50% of the time during which the office is open for the practice of Optometry.  This effectively limits the amount of offices a doctor could have to just two offices/locations.

The New (Starting Jan 1st, 2019) Law:  Prohibits an Optometrist or two or more Optometrists jointly, from owning more than 11 offices/locations.  This cap does not apply to IPAs.  It removes any time requirements, which will allow for the individual doctor or group of doctors to accommodate the 11 offices.

There is no question that SB1386 will have significant effects on the landscape of Optometry in California.  On the surface this might seem to affect private practice Optometrists only, but with the elimination of the time requirements and the growing embrace of Tele-medicine and other technological advances in the field, I believe we will see dramatic changes in private practice, commercial settings, and beyond.

President’s Message

I believe that the San Diego County Optometric Society is one of the top societies in the state, if not the best.  I am convinced that our society’s greatness is, in large part, thanks to two pillars of our foundation.

The first being the incredible group of doctors that form our membership.  San Diego is a melting pot of wonderful people from all over the country and it stands to reason that our membership is an equally wonderful group of professionals that reflects that same principle.  Our members continue to be philanthropic, motivated, politically active, and supportive of the community and each other.  Through member help and support, we are able to continue our volunteer opportunities (Monarch School, Lions Optometric Vision Clinic, Braille Institute, Annual Golf Tournament, etc.), our comprehensive Continuing Education events, as well as maintaining a supportive and welcoming environment for new and existing members.  I would like to encourage any of our current members who would like to be more involved in the society and the many different functions that we perform, to serve on our Board of Directors.  The Board is a group of volunteer doctors (myself included) who give their time to ensure the society continues to have these great events and resources so that our members can benefit.  If anyone is interested in joining the Board, please do not hesitate to reach out to me, other current members of the Board, or Nancy-Jo at the registration table.

The second pillar that makes us one of the premier societies is our sponsors. SDCOS is fortunate to have so many wonderful sponsors.  In large part to our sponsors, we are able to fund the many functions that our society performs up to and including the quality and amount of Continuing Education courses that we are able to provide to our members.  I want to encourage members to engage all of our sponsors and give them the opportunity to show you how they can help your practice and your patients.  Aside from being a great group of people, our sponsors are invaluable resources and we can all benefit from their individual expertise.  I encourage all of our members to show our sponsors how much we appreciate their support by supporting them in return.

On behalf of the SDCOS, I would like to again thank all of our sponsors for their continued support.  Only through our great members and sponsors are we able to continue to be one of the best societies in the entire state.

Please save the date for our annual holiday party.  This year’s event will be at the San Diego Zoo on December 1st.  More details to follow as we get closer to the event date.

President’s Message

CONGRATULATIONS

To Dr. Morgan and his wife, Natalie, on their new baby girl!!!!!!!

“MALIA ROSE”

~ 08-02-2018 ~

Everyone is doing well, and Dr. Morgan’s “President’s Message” will be back next month!

President’s Message

June marks the beginning of Summer, a time where San Diegans flock to the beautiful beaches around town and enjoy the sunshine and warm weather.  Summertime also marks the time of year where Optometry Students graduate their final year school and become full-fledged Optometrists.  That may mean starting to practice or continuing on with one of the many Residency Programs around the country.  These first few transition months can be difficult for new graduates for a variety of reasons.  After completing the toughest examination period of their lives and finishing a goal that they set out on four years prior, the next steps could very well be unknowns.  The California Optometric Association and San Diego County Optometric Association can help make those daunting next steps a little easier.  Many of us were COA members as students (it’s free for students, which is a huge benefit) but many do not realize that their student membership continues to the end of the year in which you graduate.  This most recent group of graduates can take advantage of all the member benefits while they transition into a working professional. The COA provides Resource Guides to help with obtaining state licensing, DEA and NPI numbers, as well as getting credentialed with the various insurance plans in our state. Career resources are also available, such as job search tools and business/career webinars.  At the local level, SDCOS offers new graduates a variety of resources and opportunities to find their career path. Dr. John Fitzpatrick maintains our society’s classifieds and job connection list, which is a great tool if you are looking for a job, are looking to hire someone, and for people looking to buy or sell a practice.  Please reach out to him (jpfod@aol.com) with any inquiries.  The society newsletter and website also provide great information for new graduates or doctors new to San Diego.  Despite having these great resources at our fingertips, sometimes the best resource is reaching out to new graduates and new doctors in the area.  By showing them the benefits the COA and SDCOS have to offer, it can be extremely impactful and helpful to them while growing our membership and strength as a society.  It might also make this chaotic time of year a little more manageable.

President’s Message

Healthcare providers possess a powerful skill set and the ability to help every single person that sits in our chair.  As we navigate through the challenges of practice management, heavy workloads, and the rigors of clinical care we must not forget the foundation of our profession.  Deep down, we all chose this profession to help and care for people.  As Optometrists, we heal the eyes and are able provide the gift of clear vision.  To the average patient this may or may not be as significant as we hope, but to a person without access to quality healthcare, this can be life changing. A simple pair of glasses could give someone additional independence, quality of life, gives back their favorite hobby or the ability to maintain employment.

The Lions Optometric Vision Clinic (LOVC) is our local charity which provides comprehensive examinations and affordable glasses to patient populations who would otherwise be unable to get quality eye care. LOVC provides all the scheduling, staff support and necessary equipment to provide these examinations but they rely on the support of community doctors willing to donate their time and expertise.   The San Diego County Optometric Society stands behind the LOVC and their mission and will offer valuable benefits to doctors who donate their time.

SDCOS provides to those doctors who are able and willing to volunteer for a shift at the LOVC the following benefits:

  • Members who volunteer will receive a free 5-hour CE registration
  • Non-members who volunteer will receive a $70 discount off registration for any CE event
  • SDCOS will extend this discount up to twice per year per doctor

Typical volunteer scheduling is a half day, from 9am-1pm.  This allows plenty of time for the volunteering doctor to also see a half days’ worth of patients in their normal clinical setting and not miss a full day of work.  LOVC is also very accommodating with doctors who want to work at different times or at different paces to make the experience as comfortable as possible.  I would again like to encourage all our members to help meet the needs of our community and to do their part in providing eye examinations to people in San Diego who could not otherwise afford to have one.  The waiting list for patients is unfortunately months long.  If members could find the time in our schedules to give back just one day a year, it would be a tremendous impact for the community and the patients that desperately need our help.

Please contact the Lions Optometric Vision Clinic directly, Dr. Erin Swift (SDCOS Liaison to LOVC), or any SDCOS Board member for more information.

President’s Message

In order for optometrists to continue to provide the highest quality care and the most current practices, we must be up to date on the legislation that governs our profession. The COA and the San Diego County Optometric Society wanted to provide you a quick summary of current legislation that affects our world.

SB 1386 (Senator McGuire) This senate bill has been amended with placeholder language which will allow it to continue through the legislative process while the COA and State Board of Optometry work toward a compromise on changing the branch office rule.  The State Board of Optometry is in favor of a full repeal of the Branch Office Law while the COA is in favor relaxing the rule but not eliminating it all together.  Instead of a total repeal, the COA is debating the benefits of reducing the time an owner needs to be in a branch office from 50 percent to 10 percent of the time the office is open.  The COA believes that it is important to require owners of an optometric practice to be more involved in a branch office than just financial interests.  We also want to ensure that the new branch office regulation does not interfere with the professional judgments of Optometrists in chain store settings.

AB 2444 (Assembly Member Burke) This bill is to better educate families on the certain health opportunities and to increase access for children.  This bill creates an informational sheet in school enrollment packets on the importance of good vision and eye health for children.  The sheet will also include how to access eye and vision care that is covered by current Medi-Cal and private insurances.  This bill also instructs the Department of Education to create a standardized follow-up process so that children with vision problems get all the care that they need. Furthermore, AB 2444 creates a pilot program aimed at early detection of eye and vision problems.  We as optometrists know how this can drastically improve educational outcomes. The bill’s first hearing is on April 11, 2018 in Assembly Education Committee.

AB 1802 (Assembly Member Salas) is the placeholder bill to expand the optometric scope of practice. COA is planning negotiations with medicine to see if there are additional areas of agreement. This bill is likely to be heard on April 24.

AB 2789 (Assembly Member Wood) AB2789 will be amended to exempt eyeglasses and contacts lenses from a requirement for health care practitioners to issue all prescriptions electronically.

SB 1241 (Assembly Member Nguyen)This bill would give a tax credit for a physician, nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant, or dentist who is a volunteer for a nonprofit licensed health clinic located in California. The COA has received a commitment that the bill will be amended to make optometrists also eligible for the tax credit.

SB 1238 (Senator Roth) A bill that would require a provider that plans to destroy patient records to notify the patient at least 60 days before a patient’s records are destroyed. COA is concerned that this bill is an undue burden on optometrists and has joined other provider groups in questioning the need for this bill.

It is imperative that we as optometrists engage with our legislators so that our profession can continue to practice the highest quality of patient care.  The COA and San Diego County Optometric Society will always keep our members updated on any legislative matters.

President’s Message

The month of March is near and dear to our hearts because it happens to be “Save Your Vision Month”.  “Save Your Vision” was started by members of the AOA in 1927 as a week long campaign. It has evolved over the years into “Save Your Vision Month”, thanks to a vote at the 2005 House of Delegates.  The AOA continues to sponsor this campaign and we as doctors can do our part by educating our patients and encouraging them to spread the word as well.

A more recent campaign, “Think About Your Eyes” was designed by the AOA to educate the general public through TV ads and radio, about the importance of eye care and vision health.  This campaign reached more than 150 million Americans and resulted in more than 1.18 million eye exams in 2017 nationwide, the most successful campaign to date.  At our COA House of Delegates meeting this past month, California pledged to become an active participant in this campaign.  Chaired by Dr. Steven A. Loomis and with California’s help and our added resources, we will propel this campaign to even greater heights in 2018. There are resources for doctors on the AOA website regarding both “Think About Your Eyes” and “Save Your Vision Month”.  By educating our patients and increasing public awareness to vision problems and eye health, we continue to demonstrate that Optometrists are vital primary eye care providers.

Courtesy of the AOA, here are some basic tips to educate our patients on some important eye health and vision issues in the workplace.  These are strategies to help patients get through a work day by minimizing eye strain and other side effects of Computer Vision Syndrome.

  • The 20-20-20 rule:  Every 20 minutes on the computer, take a 20 second break and look at something at least 20 feet away.
  • Keep a distance:  The AOA recommends sitting 20-28 inches away from your computer screen.  Keep your head and torso in an upright posture and with back support.

View from a different angle:  Ideally, the center of the computer screen should be 15 to 20 degrees below eye level to be most comfortable.

  • Decrease glare: Anti-reflective coatings and different computer screen tints are effective methods of reducing glare on our screens, as well as overhead lighting placement.
  • Blink often:  Blinking frequently will help minimize dryness that results from computer use.