by Ashley Peters and Shelby Rauch, Michigan College of Optometry Class of 2024
This past fall, the annual American Academy of Optometry meeting took place in sunny San Diego, California. As two optometry students attending the Michigan College of Optometry, over two thousand miles away from the meeting, the opportunity to attend AAO was not initially in our plan for fall semester. Fortunately for us, CooperVision was able to support our journey to San Diego so we could work and learn with other optometrists and students.
Attending educational meetings is one of our favorite parts of the profession of optometry that we get to experience as students. It puts emphasis on the parts of our education that are important in our profession. It’s an experience full of learning, networking and having fun with people who all love eyeballs as much as we do. Walking through the exhibit hall, we learn about the new and upcoming technologies that will be available to us when we graduate and become practicing doctors. Technology to better improve patient care is an increasingly important part of our profession; getting an early understanding of the types of emerging technologies while we are still in school is a key benefit to attending these meetings. We get to explore products from companies that we may find helpful or exciting to offer to future patients.
Learning in the exhibit hall in between attending lectures on research being done to advance patient care further enhances the educational experience of the Academy meeting. Case presentations are our favorite lectures to attend at meetings; they give us great advice on what “tools to keep in our belt” when seeing patients in clinic that may be presenting with similar symptoms to those presented in the case. The doctors that present these lectures are often excited to see students in the crowd, and generously offer clinical pearls of wisdom for us to implement in practice.
With so many industry professionals attending this major event every year, it provides us with a phenomenal opportunity to talk with doctors, get to know them and learn about how they contribute to the profession. Meeting so many impactful people motivates us to keep pushing through such a tough season of life and reminds us of our ‘why’ – why we are becoming doctors and why we are dedicating ourselves to being life long learners. We also get to network with students from the other schools of optometry all over the country. Connecting with the larger eye care community early in our careers is so helpful in establishing professional connections nationally as well as making new friends!
Establishing early on a practice of attending these types of meetings will help motivate us to continue advancing the profession of optometry for the better throughout our careers. We are incredibly thankful to CooperVision for facilitating learning, networking and support for us as future eyecare providers.