New AOA president Wesley E. Pittman, O.D., who will be sworn in on June 26 at the107th Annual AOA Congress and 34th Annual AOSA Conference in Orlando, Fla., has plans to create an optometric summit that will prepare optometrists for the professions future challenges and opportunities. We know what optometry is doing now, and we know what were capable of, he says, but where do we actually want to be? 

Wesley E. Pittman, O.D.
Dr. Pittman, a graduate of the University of Houston College of Optometry and a recipient of the Texas Optometric Associations Presidents Award for outstanding contributions to the profession of optometry, says the idea for the summit came from the Georgetown Summit: A Critical Assessment of Optometric Education.

This was a series of meetings between 1992 and 1994 that covered the educational opportunities and challenges facing optometry schools. To examine the possibility of having an optometric summit, there will be a project team that will look at future challenges and opportunities for the profession to determine what the scope and function of the summit should be, he says. They will also be responsible for bringing in all of the people that have a stake in the subjects covered to see if we can find some common ground, and get direction on where we need to be and what we need to do to get there.

The summittentatively titled Optometric Summit: Tomorrows Visionwill cover the human genome project, new technologies, legislative challenges and agendas, economic trends and the optometric physician model, Dr. Pittman says. He also recognizes that the project team will most likely discuss the recent ban of optometrists from the annual American Academy of Ophthalmology meetinga situation he finds very disheartening.

Its disturbing when any learned profession wants to limit or repress educational opportunities to any one group of people based solely on politics, he says. As doctors, we take an oath of office that we will share information openly with all our allied health-care colleagues for the betterment of our patients. So how can this be ethical?

When asked if he thinks O.D.s have been banned from the meeting because they continue to seek privileges beyond optometrys traditional boundaries, Dr. Pittman replies: I dont think theyve [the AAO] based this decision on anything that optometrists have said or done. They just see the level of care of optometry is steadily increasing; they see the market share of optometry steadily increasing. And, I think they made the wrong decision on their method of trying to stop that.

Upon receiving the news of the ban, Dr. Pittman says the AOA has made some informal contact with optometrists who work with ophthalmologists to try and open the doors to communication. So far, however, he says all doors have remained closed. Still, he welcomes the opportunity to meet with the AAO. We have always had an open invitation to meet with the Academy of Ophthalmology at any time and in any place, though we would prefer it to be on neutral ground, if at all possible, he says.

Dr. Pittman says he will be making an official announcement about the summit at the annual AOA Congress and AOSA Conference.

Vol. No: 141:06Issue: 6/15/04