Value of Membership

President’s Message by Amanda Dexter, O.D.

A couple of months ago I spent the weekend in Monterey in order to attend COA’s President’s Council. As the new SDCOS president I was particularly interested in learning ways in which our society can become as powerful as possible and continue to be a strong presence at the local, state, and national levels. What it comes down to is membership; strength in numbers. Being associated with AOA, COA, and SDCOS allows us all to give our voice, create change, achieve goals, and ensure the future of our profession. The more people that we can have standing and working together, the louder our voice will be, the more support we will have to create change, the easier it will be to achieve goals, and the stronger we will be to ensure our future. I encourage you all to continue your membership and become as involved as possible. I ask you to reach out to our colleagues who are not aware of the importance of membership within our society so that SDCOS may continue to grow and thrive!

With that being said, I wanted to give you all a brief outline of some of the membership benefits that you may not be aware of. Please utilize these tools that are provided to us with our membership fees. They are very valuable!

  • • 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, prevent discrimination of ODs on insurance panels, and most recently to expand our scope of practice.
  • • 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 (6 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, Mercer Insurance, Warren G. Bender Insurance, IC System debt collection, Heartland Payment Systems merchant card processing and payroll services, and Constant Contact email marketing.
  • • 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
  • • 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.
  • • COA Members have access to a social media consultant who can offer advice, training, and resources to build and maintain your social network.

Aren’t these great membership benefits that we all have access too? I bet you didn’t even realize that some of these were available to you! We have a lot of great opportunities as members that we need to take full advantage of! Not only are we protecting our profession by being a member of AOA, COA, and SDCOS, but we also have so many tools available to allow ourselves to succeed on a daily basis within optometry!