When I first arrived at ICO, my goals were simple: do the best I can in optometry school and provide the best possible patient care. Soon I learned that, in order to provide that care, optometrists work hard in the clinical setting as well as on the front lines of legislation. If you are considering a career in healthcare, here is something you may want to know: the field is always changing, especially legally and politically.
A huge change most people now know of is the Affordable Care Act founded under the Obama administration. When I began the application process, a big question on my mind was, “How is this act going to impact my future career as an optometrist?” We all know that optometry school (and any health professional school for that matter) is a big commitment both financially and time-wise. This is why it is extremely important to know about the field you are entering from a legislative angle.
At ICO, I decided that I really wanted to learn more about the rights of optometrists and the way that the healthcare system works. Two of the avenues I found in order to do this were AOA-PAC and the IOA. These groups are both designed to keep students and current doctors aware of the changes occurring in their field. They also work to support growth in optometry and protect the rights of optometrists and their patients. ICO does an especially great job of encouraging students to become more involved in these groups.
Optometry, like many other healthcare professions, follows different laws depending on the state that you are in. For example, in Kentucky, optometrists can perform minor surgical procedures. In my home state of Massachusetts, however, optometrists are still not allowed to solely treat glaucoma. This is part of the reason ICO works so hard to encourage students to get involved in their state associations. Together, we can work to continue to give our patients the best possible care.
I plan to continue my involvement in AOA-PAC and my state association. Through these groups, I have discovered an interest in law and hope to pursue it. I would love to continue to help optometry grow and better itself as a profession, and I am glad to begin doing so as a student at ICO!