AAO leadership kicks off opening session with forward-thinking remarks

October 16, 2005

The president, president-elect, and executive vice-president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) presented their views on the past achievements and future opportunities in ophthalmology during the opening session of the AAO annual meeting.

Chicago-The president, president-elect, and executive vice-president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) presented their views on the past achievements and future opportunities in ophthalmology during the opening session of the AAO annual meeting.

President Susan H. Day, MD, led off the session with a theme of finding unity in diversity. Dr. Day cited the example of a recent graduation ceremony at the UCLA medical school. During the commencement, 24 graduating physicians spoke the words, “May we leave here to cure when possible and to care always,” in 24 different languages. Similarly, Dr. Day noted the intriguing fact that disparate phenomena, such as clouds and rainbows, are naturally associated with each other.

Dr. Day concluded by saying that the public has “an incredible knack for judging our trustworthiness both from an individual as well as a collective performance. All we have to do is remember our roots, to applaud our evolution, and to conquer our vulnerabilities.”

Preparing for his role as future leader of the AAO, president-elect Harry A. Zink, MD, outlined key trials that face ophthalmology-internationally and in the United States.

“The overriding issue is whether we can sustain our ability to supply our patients over the coming 10 to 15 years, as a major demographic shift occurs in the population, with good medicine,” Dr. Zink said.

He cautioned that barriers to successfully carrying out the goal include issues of expanding need, limited financial resources, and a potential shortage of providers. Dr. Zink’s approach to meeting the challenge includes continuing commitment to the development of new knowledge and skills, as well as a transfer of knowledge to the practicing clinician; development of efficient systems to deliver eye care to all those who need it; and recognition by society that there needs to be continuing economic support to supply these services, including an equitable reimbursement.

H. Dunbar Hoskins Jr., MD, expressed confidence that the future for ophthalmology is bright, citing the continuing membership growth to more than 6,000 international members. He explained that his outlook for the profession extends to a new generation, including his daughter-in-law, who will be the next Dr. Hoskins in ophthalmology.

Dr. Hoskins reported a new ally in the battle for Surgery by Surgeons, the National Consumers League (NCL), which conducted a survey that reported public concern over what level of professional performs eye care. Other topics of interest to ophthalmologists, according to Dr. Hoskins, include the Practicing Ophthalmologist Curriculum (POC) knowledge base for certification, pay-for-performance initiatives, and legislation affecting reimbursement cuts.