Reviews Supplements Women in Optometry March 2014 : Page 9

p 9 Ripple Effect Comes Slowly to the Lecture Circuit espite the fact that more women than men are graduating from optometry schools and that the percentage of women in practice and as faculty is increasing, women ODs remain in the minority on the lecture circuit. Pamela Miller, JD, OD , the presi-dent and CEO of Optometric CE, says the shift is coming slowly for several reasons. “First, the demographics play a role. Usually a lecturer is someone who is a little further along the career path,” she says. Second, it takes a commitment that may be difficult to handle for women who are also the caretakers for children or parents. “You have to leave your house and practice. If you’re on faculty at a school, the school’s not too thrilled about you taking time away from teaching,” she adds. And the third fac-tor is that more women than men ODs are employed by Dr. Miller someone else—and that employer may be unwilling to allow the time away or feels entitled to some of the lecture fees. “If you’re an employee at a school, a medical practice, a private practice or a corpo-rate practice, you don’t have the same control over your own time that an owner or partner in a practice has,” she says. Dr. Miller, who recently formally organized Optometric CE as an umbrella organization that wraps in her myriad interests—lecturing, writing, arranging for speakers and managing a travel agency—says she’s on the lookout for CE speakers at every event she attends. “Women aren’t even close in terms of parity in representation,” she says, noting that it was just a few years ago when the presidents of the American Optometric Association, American Optometric Society and American Academy of Optometry, as well as Canadian and European societies, were all five women. “It hasn’t happened since that there were five women leading the professional associations in the world.” Technology could play a role in the future, too. Online CE has risen D in popularity because it avoids the complications of having to take time away from home or office to meet some CE requirements. “But online CE isn’t the same. You don’t get away. You have no feedback or interaction with your colleagues,” she says. However, technology-support-ed regional meetings could bridge some of the gaps. Imagine a meeting space where doctors can come for a portion of a day and participate in a webinar with small group breakout ses-sions. These types of CE offerings could attract women (or busy men) for their convenience as both attendees and pre-senters. And there’s the possibility that regional meetings could be linked together with the right kind of technology, too, expanding the interaction between colleagues to nearly the same level as large, live events. Indeed, Dr. Miller predicts that as the technology improves, it could have an impact on optometric education on many levels. “A side effect of the new optometry schools is that there is excellent opportunity for a number of classes at different schools to share an instructor and have the lessons broadcast to multiple schools,” she says. “You’d still need your own clinical staff, but for physiology or optics, for example, you could achieve core lessons taught by one instructor to many students.” As the number of women who are in practice or research or aca-demics long enough to develop a high level of proficiency in an area increase, so will the numbers of women CE lecturers on those kinds of topics. “I ask for referrals on topics, not for male-or female-oriented sessions. If we’re offering a session on traumatic brain injury, I’d go first to the military to ask for a referral. If I am looking for someone to talk about nutrition, I’d ask the Ocular Nutrition Society for a referral,” she explains. As each of these networks expands its list of referral sources, more women’s names will eventually come forward. W Buying Practices? cott Daniels , who with his wife Alissa Wald, OD , run Practice Concepts, a practice broker in Newport Beach, Calif., says that in the past several years, more women than men are buying optometric practice. “I’ve also seen an increase in OD couples buying practices or cases where the wife is the OD and the husband comes to work for her as a practice manager. If he can serve as the manager or the lead optician, that couple can make a lot of money and have a very good balance of work and family life,” he says. It’s also his experience that more of optometric practice owners selling are men. “We used to have just retirees selling Scott Daniels their practices, but now I’m seeing more people who want to relocate, and I’m also seeing women who started a practice but wanted to take Who Is S some years off to raise children sell their practices. I’ve worked with one woman whose practice I helped sell eight years ago, and she recently bought another one. Now that the children are older, she can dedicate more time to it again.” Daniels says that there are good opportunities for buyers— male or female. “I think lenders will take women just as seri-ously—if they’re serious. The potential buyer should have at least two years of experience working, be ready to offer med-ical services and have good credit.” Owing money on student loans or a mortgage aren’t going to knock you out of con-tention, he says, as long as you can show that you have a strategy for paying off any additional debt you’ll take on. And a word of advice to young graduates: don’t miss any student loan payments. W Women In Optometry March 2014

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