Spring 2016

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Jeff Gamble, OD
MOA President, 2015-2016

I’m approaching the midway point at the helm of the MOA. The challenge of leading this great association and the thrill of representing you as members continues to motivate me to take every opportunity to push our cause further. We have so much to be grateful for. This profession is like none other. It continues to be shaped and molded from the inside and out by the pressures of those who would seek to limit our ability to take the best care of our patients and the subsequent response of those who care enough about our profession to strive to protect it.

I have now traveled around the state and visited all but two of the local societies of the MOA. It was my intention to get to each society during the legislative session in order to encourage your continued involvement in our legislative efforts. We are making great progress. As I sit and write this column, I know it is possible our primary legislative goals will have been decided by the time you read it. Regardless of the outcome, I know we are making progress. I have spent time in the Capitol and on the phone with those who both support and oppose our efforts. You can trust that we are doing this the right way.

We are telling the truth. We are being consistent. Our views are respected, and our willingness to compromise, while holding fast to our essential principles, sets a high standard for our opposition. The work of passing legislation is hard. I am finding that I might just be a little too optimistic and just a bit too naive to engage in politics beyond my short tenure! But, I know that we have a great team assembled for the future who will not give up until our voices are heard.

During my presidential address, I made three very specific promises to the membership.

  • First, I promised to do everything in my power to pass legislation that clearly draws a line in the sand against stand-alone vision plans. These entities are hiding behind a veiled defense of insurance while acting like optical companies seeking to marginalize your ability to control your businesses. It is well past time we stand together to better define the influence of these companies on patient care and hold them accountable.
  • I promised the membership that we would form a leadership class. I challenged MOA presidents of the past to find me ten to twelve young leaders among us who would be willing to commit to taking the next step in serving their profession through a class that would expedite their understanding of the business of the MOA. We have to smooth out the learning curve and do a better job of preparing future leaders and equipping them to be successful.

    I am pleased to report that we have approximately eighteen names who will receive an invitation to apply to the first MOA leadership class in the coming months. The immediate past president will facilitate the class. I look forward to my role in mentoring this select group of future leaders next year.

  • I promised the membership that I would personally call all non-members of the MOA and challenge them to consider it their personal responsibility to acknowledge their professional responsibility in some tangible way. I am approximately a fourth of the way through those phone calls.

    I am both encouraged and concerned about what I am hearing from non-members during these phone calls. The argument that our profession is a legislated profession seems to be a discouragement to a group of individuals who feel that Missouri government is broken and we have little power to fix it. I have subsequently stopped emphasizing our legislative obligations and focused on the value of the MOA.

    I truly believe that our most effective tool in recruiting new members will be to continually add tangible value to the membership. Through programs such as Think About Your Eyes and the AOA MORE registry, we can translate the many benefits of MOA membership. Eventually our new members will understand that we have an obligation to support our legislative efforts once they fully appreciate the value of their membership.

I want to thank you for putting your faith in our board and executive team to effectively lead our association. I promise to continue working on my presidential agenda until I am sure there is nothing more I can do to fulfill my commitment to the membership. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you have about the intent or direction of your leadership.

Holiday 2015

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Jeff Gamble, OD
MOA President, 2015-2016

I am truly honored and humbled to be the president of the Missouri Optometric Association. It is a position worthy of respect, as are those who have served in its office. I would like to thank Dr. Scott Burks for his service and dedication over the last ten years in leadership, and the last year specifically, as MOA president. He embodies the ideal of giving back to your profession at every level.

Many of you know that I am a second generation optometrist. Twenty years ago I was sitting with my dad talking about my plans to consider practicing medicine as a profession. I had recently shadowed multiple physicians and none of them really seemed to enjoy what they were doing. I began to consider optometry as a profession instead. I specifically remember asking my dad; “what do you think about optometry?” and his reply? “Well, it sure beats working!” I thought that sounded like a perfect fit! What I didn’t understand at that time is that was coming from a man who picked cotton every day as a twelve year old. What he meant was it sure beat hard labor! The practice of optometry still feels like work to me, and I am sure it still feels like work to you. In fact, with all the changes in technology, health care reform, decreased reimbursements and the influence of third party control over the practice of optometry, I’m sure it feels more like work to you than it ever has before.

The theme of the recent Missouri Optometric Association annual convention was “Our Future Starts Now.” I couldn’t agree more. I suspect there are few who would disagree that our profession is changing. So, when I say our future starts now, what type of future do you envision? Is it one of optimism? Trepidation? Would you recommend optometry to your kids as a profession today? Do you think your practice will be more viable in five or ten years than it is right now? What will the MOA look like in five to ten years?

Dr. Scott Burks established a long range planning committee for the MOA during his presidency. This committee has been meeting regularly to set a cohesive strategy for the association that will stretch beyond individual presidencies and trustees to evaluate what your association will look like in the future.

The MOA is your association. It isn’t the president’s association or the board’s association. This is your association. You have a personal responsibility to engage in some way to shape your profession. I used to think some simply were called to a personal responsibility outside of the organized optometry, running practices, attending to family and friends, other civic duties, etc. And some were called to a professional responsibility to serve through the association. I am now convinced there is no separation. Professional responsibility is your personal responsibility.

My wife and I have four children ranging in age from fifteen to six years old. I miss my fair share of ballgames due to my responsibilities with the MOA. I catch most of them, but not all of them. And you know what? That is okay. In fact, in the appropriate balance, I’m convinced it is good for my children to see me serve my profession. I want them to experience that I view my work as more than a means to an end. I want them to see their profession someday as a calling, something more than a way to buy a boat, a car, or a big house. I want them to see their work as a cultural mandate to leave things better than they found them.

I really sense my kids’ curiosity in my transition into the MOA presidency. My six year old thinks I am being sworn in as the president of the United States, which, of course, I am completely going along with! My nine year old asks me all the time, “When are you going to be the boss of all the optometrists?” which, of course, I am completely going along with as well! My twelve and fifteen year olds are hopefully recognizing that I am practicing what I preach when I tell them that the work you do in class, and on the field, and ultimately in your job is a reflection of your character. I think that is what I saw in my dad and I hope that is what they see in me.

Your professional responsibility is your personal responsibility to take care of your profession. That sums up my presidential platform this year.

Legislatively, we want to draw a line in the sand with insurance and tell them we know what is best for our patients, we know what is best for our practices and we know what is best for our businesses. When I was interviewed ten years ago before coming on the board, Dr. Tom Greene asked me what my passion was in optometry. I told him fighting discriminatory practices by third party payers. Fast forward ten years and we have a real chance to pass significant language this year addressing non-covered services, lab choice and discriminatory practices by third party payers.

For the association, we are establishing the first ever MOA Leadership Class. During the convention, I asked the past presidents of the MOA to find me ten young optometrists who are ready to act on their personal responsibility to give back to the profession. The MOA will accept between 4-6 of these applicants to a program that will include the immediate past president mentoring a class of students to develop them into prospective committee members, society officers, trustees and board members. The MOA will fund that class to allow them to attend Legislative Conference, MOA Leadership Retreat, Optometry’s meeting and MOA Convention. We can lament apathy in a new generation of optometrists or we can actively work to encourage young leaders, through education and resources, to spark leadership for the future.

For our membership, we are going to create and translate value in joining the MOA to both members and non-members. I have embarked on a campaign of personally calling every non-member in the state over the next year. I hope to move on to the members if time and opportunity allow. My goal is to challenge non-members with their personal responsibility to the profession while highlighting the value membership provides. I am pleased to announce, as a part of that campaign, another MOA benefit recently approved by the board. Hopefully, most of you have seen an advertisement for the Vision Council marking campaign called Think About Your Eyes. All MOA members are now part of that campaign. I personally feel membership in the MOA is an obligation, but there is certainly value to the membership that we must continue to expand if we are going to increase membership.

Practicing optometry as a profession is a privilege. It is easy to forget that fact when we are buried in EMR’s, staffing dilemmas and government regulations, but it is indeed a privilege. Privilege does not exist without hard work and sacrifice. I will carry that message to our members and non-members alike over the next year. We all have a part to play and we all must find where we can serve to maintain the privilege of serving the needs of our patients in the future.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you. I promise to devote the time and energy necessary to advance the association in a positive and viable direction.

Sincerely,
Jeffrey M. Gamble, O.D.

Summer 2015

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MOA President, Scott Burks, OD

July 6th, 2015

This past legislative session was one for the record books…..but not in a good way! I won’t list all the sordid details, but I will say it was an eye opener (no pun intended) to the inner workings of state government and politics.

While this past session does not reflect well on our state’s political system it does stand in stark comparison to how the MOA operates. During a time when it is so easy to do things the wrong way, I am proud to say the MOA still has an outstanding reputation in Jefferson City.

This reputation is a direct result of the hard work of our central office staff and the professional attitude of our doctors when they visit the Capitol. Even though we didn’t pass our legislation this session we continue to build strong relationships with our legislators that will be remembered in subsequent years.

We held our Leadership Retreat in June and I would like to thank everyone that took the time out of their busy summer schedule to attend. I believe it was a very productive meeting.

During the retreat the Long Range Planning Committee met for the first time and came up with a number of good ideas on how the MOA can change/improve as we move forward. While these changes may be subtle, and even slow, I believe that we are moving in a positive direction.

As always, feel free to contact me at any time if you have any concerns or questions. My email is [email protected] and my cell number is 314-560-2338.

Spring 2015

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MOA President, Scott Burks, OD

The legislative session is in full swing and once again we have a bill that we would like to see passed. Our non-covered services bill (HB 202) was voted out of the Health and Mental Health Policy committee last week. While this is the first step of many, it was an important first step.

Thank you to Dr. LeeAnn Barrett and Mr. Jay Hahn for their efforts in getting this passed and their continued dedication to the profession.

Also, thanks go out to the MOA’s current Treasurer, Dr. Jason Lake, for an initiative that he started this year. In the past, the MOA tried to have “Society Days” to get ODs to the Capitol during the legislative session; however, there were still many days with an OD present. This year Dr. Lake started a new program where he signed up one or two doctors to be at the Capitol every Tuesday and Wednesday while they are in session! Thank you to all the optometrists who are taking the time out of their office to make this work. I believe it will go a long way to helping our legislative efforts this year.

I am about half way through my society visits and look forward to visiting the remaining societies. I enjoy the opportunity to visit with all the doctors that I already know and meeting new doctors that I may not have had the chance to meet at other MOA functions. I feel good about the profession of optometry in the state when I see so many dedicated doctors coming out for my visit.

As always feel free to call or email me with any concerns or comments at 314-560-2338 (mobile) or [email protected].

President’s Message – Holiday 2014

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MOA President, Scott Burks, OD

Thank you to everyone who made this year’s MOA convention a success. Everyone from the membership who attended the conference, the MOA staff who spend countless hours preparing for it, and the MOA Board members who all do their own part, should be commended for their outstanding work.

Our membership and the annual convention are the life blood of our MOA. The MOA has had many successes over the years and in order to maintain this level of achievement we need to be able to work together as a whole and evolve. I hope during my year as president we can set in motion a plan to complete this goal.

Let me begin by addressing an issue that any organization faces, apathy. What is the saying: “In any organization 10% of the people do 100% of the work.”? Luckily, the MOA is currently in better shape than that, but unfortunatelym, we are trending closer to that level. From my years on the board I have seen it become harder to find members to become trustees, harder to get members to volunteer to chair and serve on committees, and harder to get members to become involved politically.

We are pulled in many different directions on any given day, but we need to keep in mind what allows us to enjoy the lifestyle we hold so dear, and that is the profession of optometry. If we allow ourselves to become apathetic, then we will not continue to grow as an organization and a profession in Missouri. In fact, the exact opposite will happen. Others will decide for us what we can or can’t do each day to fully serve our patients.

Obviously, none of us want to see this happen. So then, what can each one of us do?

First, attend our annual Legislative Conference in Jefferson City. This meeting sets the tone for us legislatively, and it is a great time to meet your legislator early in the year when things are not so hectic in the capitol. Legislators fully understand the effort when their constituents take the time out of their life and work to meet with them personally in the capitol. Just by meeting with them for a few minutes shows them how dedicated you are to your profession and often starts a professional friendship. (I am not a really a fan of the term “professional friendship” but I have spent 10 minutes trying to come up with something better and can’t. If you can think of something to substitute it with please do!)

Second, build a relationship with your legislator. Make sure your contact with your legislators does not end at the Capitol. At home, invite your legislators over to you office, invite them out to lunch, or donate to their campaign. Even when they are not currently up for reelection a donation is always appreciated and remembered.

Third, have an annual legislative thank you reception. I challenge each society (no matter how big or small) to make the effort. GOOS has a reception each year, and it is the single most important thing we do as a society. We make it a fun, casual, non-formal evening with no political agenda where your society members have an opportunity to meet and thank ALL their legislators who can attend. It has allowed me and other members of my society to build friendships with legislators outside our own legislative districts.

Fourth, examine the MOA current organizational structure for sustainablity. Long term, I believe we must continue to evolve in order to sustain our success. Allow me to give a few samples of where we may need to change.

  1. Some of our societies rarely or never meet. Is this a good thing when we rely on those trustees and societies to be responsible for grass root political efforts in their areas?
  2. Myself, and the past few presidents have had a hard time getting members to commit to become a trustee, chair a committee, or even serve in some capacity. Is there a better way we can streamline our operations to combat this?
  3. Our annual convention is a large source of revenue for us but each year it is increasingly harder to find exhibitors and sponsors and compete with the multiple alternative ways to receive CE. Does our annual meeting need to continue in its current form or should it also change? To address these issues I have formed a very diverse long term planning committee to look at the MOA from top to bottom and to suggest ways we may continue to flourish and stay relative in the ever changing field of health care.

I am honored to serve as your president and promise that I will try and do all I can for you and the MOA. If you ever have any questions, concerns or comments please feel free to contact me at anytime and I hope to see you in January at the Legislative Conference in Jefferson City. For more information and to register please go to: moeyecareconference.org