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EducationGreat State Associations
By Rebecca Soto, ABOC, NCLEC
State associations serve as advocates for opticians. State Associations provide training resources, networking opportunities and events, and extremely important, they work with local government to block legislation that would be limiting or detrimental to our profession. The State Association helps protect the profession.
What Does a State Association Do?
The main purpose of a state association is to help members in the state in the following areas:
State optician organizations speak on your behalf when it comes to legislative matters that impact the optical industry and more importantly, licensure. This aspect of membership is important because it gives you representation on issues that directly affect your license. Typically, any bills proposed which directly affect opticianry are brought to the attention of the association and are reviewed and handled by the legal team of the association.
2. Training, Education, and Networking Events
State associations offer various training programs at discounted prices. These resources will help business owners, opticians and optician apprentices receive quality education including
Your state associations should offer a complimentary membership to the Opticians Association of America (OAA). The OAA is the collective voice of the opticianry industry. The ongoing mission of the OAA is to work with members, partners and other professionals—both inside and outside of our industry—to assure that opticians receive the recognition, respect, opportunity and protection they deserve. They also advocate for national legislation.
Who Can Join?
All optical industry professionals can join the association in their state. This includes business owners, opticians, optician apprentices, students, and educators.
We have several great associations across America. From the East to West Coasts to down South. These are what some of these great associations are doing for opticianry in their states.
Opticians Association of Massachusetts (OAM)
Highlights from Dibby Bartlett, President, OAA
OAM is an exceptional State Society which can serve as a model for its ingenuity and creativity. The following are highlights.
Education: The Education at OAM is impeccable. At the annual conferences attendees have 32 course choices! Interesting and compelling courses include cow eye dissection and a live course in edging. Each conference ends with the “7th Hour”, the last course of the day, in which popcorn is served, and an optician takes time to speak about their career and what has inspired them. Conference speakers are a mix of well-known national speakers and home grown educators; opticians who have discovered within themselves a new passion.
Leadership: The Board of Directors includes many national level leaders, Dibby Bartlett, President, OAA, Blair Wong, Director ABO-NCLE, George Bourque, Director, OAA, Kyle Beaudet, Director, OAA, Evan Wong, Student Representative, OAA and Amy Swayze, Director, NAO.
Opticians Association of Washington (OAW)
Highlights from Donna Hatch
Exciting News: We are growing by expanding our chapter meetings across the state. Currently we have six active chapters to keep our opticians educated and up to date with their CE’s. Our Education Finance committee offers rebates to students going through the Opticianry program at Highline Community College. We are very proud of the opportunity to share with students to help finance their education.
Past Events: In Washington State, we held one of four upcoming training classes for apprentices. Our team gives up one whole day to do hands on classes for student opticians and apprentices.
Leadership: Washington State has been under the direction of President David Reed LDO, OAAHF from Walla Walla WA. His vision was to maximize education for all and make it affordable for Opticians across the state. By making a push for Chapters and one day education events he has accomplished his 20/20 goal.
Professional Opticians of Florida (POF)
Highlights from Dee Martinez-Pace
Exciting News/Legislature- In January 2020, Professional Opticians of Florida began a legislative campaign to remove all healthcare professionals from House Bill 707 and Senate Bill 1124. Over 10,000 emails were sent to legislators supporting this removal. On February 18, 2020 during the senate committee meeting, legislators gave a verbal commitment to remove all healthcare professionals from Senate Bill 1124. On March 13, 2020 both House Bill 707 and Senate Bill 1124 were indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.
Past Events - Spring Spectacle an exceptional education weekend. A full education-packed weekend for Opticians and Apprentice Opticians. Hands-On Frame Fitting & Adjusting Workshop, world class education at a world class resort, all 20 of Florida’s required hours of continuing education in one weekend and the latest in eyewear fashions and accessories on display.
The profession of opticianry is unique. Join your state association and make sure they are working for you. The goal and mission of most associations is to safeguard our licensure and provide quality education to opticians and future opticians. These are great examples of associations across America making a difference. What is even more amazing is the people behind these great associations. Most associations' board of directors volunteer their time to support the members, protect the licensure, and promote the profession of opticianry.
Consider joining your state association, but first make sure your state association is working for you.
Together with my fellow opticians, we begin a journey as the Society of Connecticut Opticians (SOCO). Inspired by the dedication and invigorated by the energy of our Licensed Opticians, students, and apprentices, I am honored to lead SOCO. As an organization, we are committed to empowering our profession by supporting, uniting and educating Opticians.