by Dr. Nhung Brandenburg
President’s Column – January 2018
As we begin another year, I can’t help but think about the hard-fought legislative victories we’ve enjoyed throughout my tenure as a GOA member. I remember our fight for oral medications, hydrocodone and most recently injectables.
Our profession has evolved over the years, and it is because of the passionate and involved GOA members and staff who work so diligently to ensure we are able to practice to our full potential and provide our patients with the best possible care.
This past year we celebrated the passage of SB 153, which allows optometrists to perform injections into the eye lid and subconjunctival layer of the eye. It also eliminated the classes of drugs thereby allowing optometrists to prescribe any medications related to the diagnosis or treatment of diseases and conditions of the eye and adnexa oculi except Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substances.
This battle required each and every GOA member to call, meet and email their legislators to urge them to support the bill. Relationships made the difference.
I cannot express enough the need for you to build and maintain a relationship with your legislators before, during and after the legislative session. It is so much easier to pick up the phone and call your friend rather than having to cold call your state representative or senator. We all know friends trust each other, and your opinion will carry more weight if your legislators already know and trust you.
I know that many of our members have relationships with their local legislators. But -- with 180 House Representatives and 56 Senators – there are always more opportunities to develop closer relationships between GOA members and their legislators.
Each connection will enable optometrists to educate lawmakers and influence legislation. We need to build on our strong foundation and move forward with building up grassroots relationships with legislators.
This election year is the perfect time to get involved legislatively as most Lawmakers are campaigning for votes. Befriending Legislators early in their careers provides opportunities for greater influence in later years.
That said, this year the GOA launched its reinvigorated Key OD program, which helps you facilitate relationships with your legislators. If you are interested in becoming a Key OD and learning more about how to establish a relationship with your legislator please contact the Grassroots Committee Chair, Dr. Darrell Sorah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, the association is hosting its annual Optometry’s Day at the Capitol on January 24, 2018. I would urge all of you to join us at the Capitol to meet your Legislators and help advocate for this great profession. We will team you up with experienced colleagues who will guide you each step at the Capitol. The GOA will provide you with all the tools you need to speak with your legislators.
It is critical we show our unified support of optometry and the strength we have in numbers. You can make a big impact with just a morning out of your busy day.
I am looking forward to another year with the GOA and am excited for what the future holds. See you all at the Capitol!