After more than a year of hard work, careful planning of every detail, and the excitement leading up to opening day, its almost hard to believe that the SECO International 2008 Congress is already over.

But, what a Congress it was! From the Olympic-inspired theme that encouraged each one of us to raise the bar in our practice, to the more than 400 hours of CE offered by nearly 100 distinguished lecturers from across the country, this years SECO International in Atlanta was an event that no one will ever forget!

With all that SECO has to offer, it is no surprise that this year we had more sold-out courses prior to the start of the meeting than ever before!

SECO 2008: By the Numbers
Over 400 hours of CE were offered by more than 100 distinguished lecturers from across the country.

18 brand new tracks of education for both optometrists and allied ophthalmic professionals were available.

Nearly 300 exhibitors took part in Optometrys Marketplace, which was expanded to approximately 70,000 square feetSECOs largest exhibit floor yet!

8,000+ attendees.

More than 100 multimedia posters were displayed in the Advanced Media Learning Center.

28 SECO Scholars graduated from the SECO Scholar program given in 2006-7, entitled, Ocular Disease Tune-Up.

Nearly 70 social or affiliated events took place during the meeting.

SECO International, the Education Destination, once again provided attendees an unparalleled opportunity to experience CE in a way that is unique to this meeting alone. Where else can you attend a major conference that kicks off with a lighting of the Olympic torch, a trumpet rendition of the National Anthem and a surprise guest appearance by former Olympic track star and two-time gold medalist, Antonio McKay? Its no wonder that approximately 8,000 people attended SECO in Atlanta this year.

This year provided many new exciting opportunities for optometrists, allied ophthalmic professionals and entire optometric office teams. Nearly 40% of this years speakers were new, which is a testament to SECOs commitment in providing innovation to each years Congress.

As part of this innovation and creativity, SECO created 18 new tracks of education for both optometrists and AOPs.
Some of these outstanding new tracks and courses that made a big splash with attendees: Structure vs. Function Face Off, Its Geek to Me, Retinal Relay, Red Eye Round Up, SECO Rookie Class, Champions for Children, Glaucoma Game Plan and Get up to Speed with Oral Meds. The Closing Ceremonies program, The Thrill of Vision to the Agony of Da Feet, was a unique way to extinguish the flame that burned bright throughout the five-day SECO event.

SECOs commitment to educational excellence once again helped everyone in attendance to raise the bar for themselves and their staff in at least one area of practice, whether by adding a new procedure, incorporating a new piece of equipment or delegating a new responsibility to a team member.

Optometrist Paul Ajamian and Olympic medalist Antonio McKay bond at SECO.

The New World of Coca-Cola was the  perfect backdrop for this years big Saturday Night Party at SECO.

Gymnasts took center stage during the opening ceremonies in the spirit of the Olympic theme of SECO 2008.

SECO also promoted team learning with this years innovative One Team, One Dream track, which featured six sessions with topics ranging from patient satisfaction to diabetic complications.

There is no question that SECO not only provides outstanding learning opportunities, but also it offers one of the largest and most comprehensive exhibit halls where you can see the latest technology, equipment and products on the market.

Since SECO re-evaluates after every Congress, this year, Optometrys Marketplace was expanded by more than 30% in size to accommodate increased exhibitor needs. Last year, more than 30 exhibitors were on a waiting list. With this years expansion, there was no waiting list, and the expanded marketplace included approximately 300 exhibitors and 70,000 square feet of space.

North Carolina optometrist Kate Lanier tried on the indirect ophthalmoscope with Volk lens at the Volk booth.

Popular speakers Ron Melton, O.D., and Randall Thomas, O.D., took a brief break between courses. Outgoing SECO President Douglas Clark, O.D., cut the ribbon during a ceremony to open Optometry"s Marketplace.

In addition to the education and marketplace, of course, SECO is also a time to get together with colleagues, old and new. SECO 2008 provided many opportunities to network and have fun, including the Opening Ceremonies Reception and the Thursday night Triathlon at Atlantic Station. I know many of you enjoyed your personal chariot, the fur bus, which escorted you to Atlantic Station where you took advantage of world-class restaurants, retail shops, cafs and theaters. And, what would SECO be without optometrys favorite band, the Bad Habits, who jammed at the Fox Sports Grill?

SECO also delivered a closing-night party and extravaganza that no one will ever forget. The Saturday Night Party at the New World of Coke combined a unique mix of the great classic rock band, America, friendly faces and a backdrop dedicated to a drinkCoca Colathat has made you feel good since you were a kid.

Arkansas optometrists Vicki Farmer and Beatrice Reed chatted with Jerry Park. Alabama opticians Tina Long and Lisa Stewart aboard the Fur Bus Thursday.
U.S. Air Force ophthalmic technicians, who hailed from across the country, enjoyed their first day at SECO. The President"s Reception is always one of the main events during SECO"s annual Congress in Atlanta.

Of course, none of this would have happened without the many volunteers and staff who worked tirelessly for up to 18 months in advance. From the exhibit hall volunteers, to the CE, logistics and industry relations committee, I want to personally thank everyone who unselfishly gave their time and effort to make SECO 2008 such a tremendous success!

I would also like to recognize outgoing SECO President Dr. Douglas C. Clark for his leadership, and welcome new SECO President Dr. Wilburn Lord, Jr. as he takes the reigns of this outstanding organization.

Now that SECO 2008 is over, I know each one of us can continue to benefit from all we learned and experienced during this world-class event.

Mark your calendar for next years meeting with the theme, EyeWay to the Future, which will emphasize incorporating technology into your practice. So, save the dates, March 4-8, 2009.
I look forward to seeing you at SECO 2009!

Vol. No: 145:04Issue: 4/15/2008