Three Women ODs in the Running for American Optometric Association Board

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So far, three women ODs have announced their candidacy for the American Optometric Association (AOA) Board of Trustees. They are Jacqueline Bowen, OD, of Greeley, Colorado; Lori L. Grover, OD, PhD, FAAO, of Chicago, Illinois; and April Jasper, OD, FAAO, of West Palm Beach, Florida.


Motivation to run

Dr. Bowen: I am committed to long-term service to the AOA. When I ran for election to a one-year term in 2016, it was with the intention to run again for a three-year term. I bring to the board my skills in thoughtful communication, a motherbear-like protective instinct and a passion to advance the goals of the profession. My experience on the board this year has been very affirming, and it is without hesitation that I pledge to build on that experience to continue to advance the profession.

Dr. Grover: My motivation to serve stems from an early and ongoing commitment to optometric advocacy. Beginning with private practice, I’ve had the good fortune of a career path providing opportunities for service and experience that enhance the existing strengths and talents of the AOA board and volunteer leadership. During my 26 years in optometry, 22 include continuous AOA volunteer roles while also serving in seven state affiliates and multiple national health-related organizations. Activism in clinical, legislative, educational, governmental, health policy and public health arenas as a doctor of optometry has given me valuable insights into today’s health care arena that can further advance optometry.

Dr. Jasper: In an interview early in my career, I was asked if I was going to be active politically. At first, I said no because I didn’t realize that optometrists—no matter the practice—have to fight for their privileges. Since then, I’ve been an advocate for the profession. Today, we face new challenges, such as telemedicine and online care, which are confusing patients and consumers. I decided to run because I felt I couldn’t sit on the sidelines. We owe it to our profession and patients to get involved. As long as I am asked to represent others and as long as I have the ability, time and talent, it will be a privilege and honor to serve.

Special interests

Dr. Grover: My clinical passion involves treating chronic vision impairment in people of all ages. It connected me to knowledge and discovery in health policy, public health, chronic disease management and health care delivery science. The value of optometric care to overall health inspires my activism for legislative and regulatory strength and fuels my passion for advocacy. My recent role with the National Academies (formerly Institute of Medicine) reflects this; our final 2016 report identifies in-person comprehensive eye exam as the gold standard for our nation’s health; includes doctors of optometry defined as physicians; and recognizes vision impairment as a major chronic health outcome that warrants preventive primary care, early diagnosis and timely intervention.

Dr. Jasper: My interests in optometry span a wide range of patient care, technology and business issues. My own background ranges from a VA residency, followed by six years as a leaseholder in multiple Walmart Vision Centers to opening a private practice. I have made it my mission to be aware of what’s going on around us and to help where I can. One such area is business development because many doctors are overwhelmed by that challenge. I’m a partner in a company, Distinctive Strategies and Leadership, which is designed to help other doctors navigate business obstacles so they can focus on enhancing their patients’ lives. Visit distinctivestrategies.com.

Dr. Bowen: As a practitioner of 25 years, I am deeply and personally affected by key issues threatening our profession today. I have, in my practice, been affected by unscrupulous online retailers, disruptive technology (e.g., apps that claim to replace an eye exam) and third-party bullying. Probably the most talked about issues revolve around emerging technology as it affects our patients and our profession. Optometrists have always embraced new technology that results in improved outcomes. The AOA must continue to fight for laws that govern appropriate application of technology and protect the doctor-patient relationship. Nothing can replace an in-person comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist.

Their drive

Dr. Jasper: My children have grown up visiting the halls of our state capitol while I lobbied legislators. They and my husband have been with me as I’ve attended and delivered hundreds of management presentations nationwide. They have seen that giving my time and donations to the profession is as important to me as service to my patients. We cannot do the best for our patients unless we have the rights to practice to our full scope and the skills to manage our businesses successfully. We have to engage to make optometry an attractive profession and asset in the health care community. I’d be honored to serve as your voice.

Dr. Bowen: I am able to listen to the opinions of people from all walks of life and build consensus to achieve the specific goals we have for optometry. I stand firm in my convictions while remaining open-minded, intelligent and poised as I represent the best interests of our patients. I love this profession and the patients who are impacted by the valuable relationships they have with their optometrist. I foresee rapid changes for optometry in this inconsistent health care environment, and we need conscientious leaders like myself to navigate those changes. I’m optimistic that optometry will be the go-to profession for health care policy makers on a national and global level for years to come.

Dr. Grover: Recent national events and a climate of rapid change require heightened attention across health care to anticipate and address impacts on us and those who deserve our care. Working together, we all can further our nation’s understanding of optometric eye and vision care and its value within the house of medicine, community health networks and other professions, including public health. Fighting for access, equity, scope and quality in eye care is at my core. It would be an honor to work on your behalf to promote comprehensive, doctor-to-patient, optometric eye and vision care for people of all ages that improves health and ensures safety. Read more at eyehealthnet.com.