This past year has been a historic year, not only for the world, but for COA as well! This year the COA had more legislative wins than any year previous! They were able to allow optometrists to administer COVID-19 vaccines, have live online CE approved, include optometrists in phase 1A for COVID immunizations, secure adult eyeglass coverage for Medi-Cal patients, telehealth payment parity, among others! And they are still working on more! Thanks to the COA I am currently fully vaccinated, I can complete my CE from the safety (and comfort) of my home, and am able to take a course to help distribute the vaccine!
Without the COA advocating for our rights as optometrists, none of this would have been possible, and many of us might even be out of work. If you had trouble seeing the benefit of being a member before last year, I don’t think I have to tell you how important it is now. We tend to take things for granted sometimes, the fact that we can dilate patients, use TPAs, or treat glaucoma. Especially those of us who entered the profession once these rights were already secured. Seeing the COA act so swiftly to help ensure my ability to continue to work, get paid, and attend CE during a pandemic has convinced me of the importance of being a member! The monthly payments are a small price to pay to be able to have a future as an optometrist.
In addition to all the wins from the past year, here are some other benefits of being a COA/AOA member:
- Continuing education: The COA is now offering free online CE in addition to discounted rates for members to attend OptoWest, Monterey Symposium, and the AOA’s Optometry’s Meeting! As I am writing this, both the Monterey Symposium and Optometry’s Meeting are scheduled to be in-person this year!
- Increased awareness: AOA works tirelessly to promote optometry with integrity and demonstrate how doctors of optometry care for patients’ eye health both in the exam room and in everyday life. A concerted public awareness campaign seeks to educate Americans about the importance of regular, in-person, comprehensive eye exams and the dangers of taking shortcuts in their eye health. The AOA also offers practice listing opportunities for members on their website under “find a doctor”.
- Paraoptometric resource center: As a practice owner, you can enroll your entire staff to have access to the paraoptometric resource center. This online toolkit has information for training staff to help them become more knowledgeable, productive, and successful.
- Legal Service Resource Program: The Legal Service Resource Program offers 30 minutes of free legal advice to members each month.
- Insurance: AOA Excel offers malpractice insurance, life insurance, and disability insurance to members. New grads who become AOA members can enjoy 50% off malpractice insurance their first year in practice, then 25% off their second year!
Speaking of insurance, we know that it is important to have insurance, that is why most of us have malpractice insurance, health insurance, life insurance, etc. We are able to see the value in monthly payments for insurance. You can think of your COA/AOA dues as insurance; insurance that our profession will not only be around a while, but will be thriving. So thank you all for being members and I encourage you to take advantage of all the benefits your membership offers!