These are my top 5 reasons why EVERY Optometrist (not just docs interested in vision therapy) should attend the COVD meeting.
I just got back from COVD’s annual meeting in Las Vegas, and am so excited to share with you a few reasons why I think every optometrist should attend! It was a great week of learning, meeting new people, and connecting with old colleagues.
1. Vision therapy doctors are the BEST doctors
Okay, I am biased. I’ll be the first to admit this, but I have to say that my bias is well founded. Every single doctor I come in contact with at the meeting is open to talk, learn, and create something bigger than him or herself. Their energy and excitement towards the profession is infectious! I find that vision therapy doctors have this special combination of that ‘think outside the box’ intelligence, compassion, and a certain approachability about them. These three traits give rise to a unique type of doctor that you don’t come across everyday.
2. Learning is at the forefront of the agenda
Although this is the goal of all organized meetings, I find that the COVD meeting takes this to heart. No matter if you are in class, having lunch or just walking through the hallway, you’ll find that vision therapy doctors want to talk about vision therapy all of the time. At every turn, there is an opportunity for learning.
My favorite random pearl of wisdom came while I was sitting at dinner with a group of colleagues. This pearl isn’t just about vision therapy, rather about optometry in general. A conversation sprung up about vision therapy in corporate settings and a doctor I had just met looked at me and said:
It’s not about WHERE you practice, but HOW you practice.
Wow. Let that settle in. This is a big statement and is going to stick with me for the rest of my career. It seems like a pretty straightforward thing to say, but I had the one-track mind of “vision therapy must be done in a private practice setting.” In reality, I could be sitting in a hut on the beach doing therapy better than the guy down the road in a fancy office. It’s not about the tools, it is about who is holding them.
This is the powerful thing about these meetings; getting groups of doctors together to discuss the profession and to keep an open mind about how they are practicing.
3. It isn’t about who knows the most, it’s about being part of the TEAM
As I was sitting in Dr. Arnold Sherman’s lecture about sports vision therapy, I was in complete awe that he was taking criticism with grace over his study on which visual aspects are the best predictors of successful baseball players. He was also open to any and all suggestions on how to improve his study moving forward.
COVD promotes this ‘family’ like mentality that wants everyone to succeed and give the best care they can to their patients. I don’t know if you’d get that in any other area of optometry in such a public forum.
4. Open Door Policy
I think this is a big selling point to new doctors that are unsure of what exactly vision therapy entails. VT doctors welcome rookies with open arms and a bucket full of advice. They want to share their knowledge and passion and really want for you to be part of this group.
At the meeting we were able to promote the COVD Mentorship Program. In just a few weeks we should have every state represented, which gives our new grads (YOU!) a great opportunity to connect with doctors within your state. If you want to learn more about vision therapy or you just want to learn how to make the proper referrals, the mentorship program is a great way to start.
5. Commitment to the future
Perhaps the most awesome part of this year’s meeting in Las Vegas was not the casinos or the buffets, but it was the fact that one of the premier speakers was an OPHTHALMOLOGIST. Yes, you read that right. An Ophthalmologist. Dr. Jonathon Holmes, is part of the Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group (PEDIG), that is performing a study on the effectiveness of binocular treatment of amblyopia (ATS 18). Along with details of the study and the involvement of binocular vision training with a subset of the group, Dr. Holmes called for a joint effort between optometry and ophthalmology. How amazing is that?
I think that for COVD to welcome an ophthalmologist (you know, those guys that “just want to do surgery”) to the meeting is an obvious attestation to their commitment to moving the profession forward. It will be great to see the impact this study has and how our relationship with ophthalmology will continue to grow!