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October 2004

 
Academy Notebook
 
 

What’s Happening

For the Record

FYI

Members at Large

Washington Report

Candidates’ Views

What’s Happening

Be Prepared for the ABO’s Maintenance of Certification
The American Board of Ophthalmology is setting new Maintenance of Certification standards for ophthalmologists, which will begin in 2006 and will apply to ophthalmologists certified after July 1, 1992.

In response, the Academy is developing a range of products and services—the Academy MOC Essentials—which will assist you in understanding and meeting the ABO’s upcoming Maintenance of Certification requirements.

In the months to come, you will have access to study aids, self-assessment tools and other useful resources that will help you earn CME credits and prepare for the ABO’s Demonstration of Ophthalmic Cognitive Knowledge (DOCK) exam.

To learn more about these resources, go to www.aao.org/ame or, if you’re attending this month’s Joint Meeting in New Orleans, visit the Maintenance of Certification kiosk at the Academy’s Resource Center (Hall G, Booth #3039).

The Foundation Honors Visionary Society’s Six Charter Members
The Academy and The Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology are privileged to honor six donors who have each given a total of $1,000,000 or more.

The charter members of the Visionary Society are Stanley M. Truhlsen, MD, Alice McPherson, MD, Pfizer Ophthalmics, Knights Templar Eye Foundation Inc., Alcon and Allergan.

These individuals and organizations have collectively contributed nearly $15 million in support of the Foundation’s mission. The Visionary Society is open to any Academy member, individual, corporation or foundation that contributes a cumulative total of $1,000,000 or more for any purpose to the Foundation.

Continuing Education and Quality Eye Care

By: David W. Parke, MD

Health care in general is in the midst of a revolution.  This includes an explosion of knowledge, rapid changes in medical economics and the emergence of new diagnostic procedures and treatments.  It also features the adoption of new technologies such as the Internet and telemedicine in everyday practice.

With the second generation mapping of the human genome now complete there is a rush to translate that knowledge into new therapies, which will proceed at an exponential rate over the next decade.  The aging of the population will greatly increase the demand for affordable, effective, quality medical and surgical care.  The timeline to ensure the practicality of these advances will shorten.

As a corollary to this explosion of medical knowledge, ophthalmologists will need more and more education to guarantee the provision of current and emerging highest quality eye care diagnostic and therapeutic services.  As the quantity of new information expands, the already tight time constraints on ophthalmologists will be more apparent.  Thus the practicing ophthalmologist will look for understandable, simple-to-read, distilled answers to pertinent topics if he or she wishes to remain knowledgeable and up-to-date.  Current medical economics and the advances in information technology are creating a culture of free or inexpensive access to information.  Yet most users of it give little thought to the costs entailed in producing such information.

During the past two decades the urgent need for organized ophthalmology to support the advocacy of medical eye care on the state and federal levels has used funds that might otherwise have been earmarked for continuing education, which, for years, has been the primary mission of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.  Advocacy has become a personal obligation of every ophthalmologist concerned about the socio-economic and political realities that face us.  The Academy and its State Affairs and Federal Affairs committees will continue to lend great support.

To ensure that ophthalmologists can continue to provide patients access to the highest quality of eye care, the Academy has sought a method to better fulfill its educational mission.  It must remain the most trusted, credible, relevant and price competitive source of ophthalmic knowledge for its members.

The creation and ongoing development of an ophthalmic knowledge base (OKB) is the theme of the Academy’s efforts to improve and sustain the quality of eye care.  The OKB will be the source of information that will provide evidence-based, clinically relevant and scientifically supported ophthalmic information and answers to educational and clinical requests.  It will become a resource for medical students, residents, fellows and board certified ophthalmologists that will provide a database for answers to specific clinical or patho-physiological questions.  Also it will help ascertain competence to practice at the highest level.  An added positive is the help that can be provided to one preparing for any upcoming examinations.

The OKB is being designed to be intuitive to the user and organized around the American Board of Ophthalmology’s Practice Emphasis Areas.  These include all areas in which ophthalmologists have been trained to practice.  It will also include subjects such as ethics, pain management, low vision rehabilitation, end-of-life issues and varied practice management topics.

The development of the OKB will require a tremendous amount of ongoing collection, evaluation, distillation and repurposing of information.  Distribution of the information primarily will be web-based, but also will include print, PDAs, DVDs, CD ROMs and videos.  The need for physician expertise will be great.  The cost of developing and disseminating educational materials also will be great.

Senior ophthalmologists may ask, “Why should OKB be an interest and concern of mine in the latter years of my involvement with ophthalmic practice?”  There is a need for most ophthalmologists, regardless of age or practice involvement, to have at least an acquaintance with new and relevant information in their chosen specialty.  Friends and old patients frequently look to senior ophthalmologists for advice.  It cannot be denied that many senior ophthalmologists probably would be dissatisfied with their lot and in poorer financial circumstances were it not for the past educational and advocacy efforts of the Academy.  The wisdom imparted by such old stalwarts as Phillips Thygeson, Thomas Duane, David Cogan, Frank Walsh, Frederick Verhoeff, Frederick Blodi, Edward Norton, A. Edward Maumanee, Jerome Bettman, Saul Sugar, Paul Chandler, Morton Grant, Charles Schepens, Marshall Parks, Arnall Patz, Bradley Straatsma, and a host of others was disseminated in large parts by the old Transactions, which became Ophthalmology, and at seminars and instruction courses at the Academy’s Annual Meeting.  Today, senior ophthalmologists still depend upon Academy publications and meetings for current information.

Since the Academy is the premier post-residency and post-fellowship training and educational institution in ophthalmology, it will need financial support to maintain the highest quality and broadest reach for its educational programs.  In a nutshell, it is payback time for those have reaped the benefits of past Academy efforts.  The Academy Education Fund (TAEF) is intended to raise the additional philanthropic support necessary to aid the development of the OKB, using physician leadership and expertise, as it makes the investment in technology necessary to disseminate current knowledge.  Remember, in the near future young ophthalmologists will be required to recertify every ten years.  Our generation of senior ophthalmologists must help ensure that the present and future generation of Eye MDs will continue to represent the excellence for which the finest specialty in medicine is well known. 

In the near future you will receive information and requests to support The Academy Education Fund, a program of the Foundation of the AmericanAcademy of Ophthalmology (www.aaofoundation.org). You might even jump-start TAEF by making a pledge now.

For the Record

Vote Online or by Mail
Calling all active voting members and fellows: Remember to cast a ballot for the next president-elect, senior secretary for Ophthalmic Practice, secretary for the Annual Meeting and trustee-at-large (see page 72) positions, as well as the proposed amendments to the Academy’s articles of incorporation, bylaws and procedural rules.

Voting lasts 30 days from Monday, Oct. 25 at noon Central Standard Time to Tuesday, Nov. 24 at noon CST. For the fourth year, voting members will have the option of either Internet or traditional mail ballot. If you vote both online and by mail, only the latter will count.

Online voting: The easiest way to vote online is to visit the Academy’s home page once voting has started and follow the well-marked link to the voting site.

Voting by mail: For the second year running, the Academy surveyed all of the eligible voting membership to request voting preferences. Unless you indicated that you prefer to vote online, you should expect to receive a voting guide (which will include a mail ballot) shortly after the Joint Meeting. All the information that is in the voting guide is also available online.

The candidates and amendments: Visit www.aao.org/elections to read candidate biographies and view proposed amendments to the governance documents. At the Joint Meeting, candidate information will also be posted in Lobby G of the Convention Center.

After the elections: In November, visit www.aao.org/elections to see the election results and find out how to nominate a candidate for the 2006 board.

FYI

In November, Spread Awareness of Diabetic Eye Disease
Approximately 29 million Americans aged 20 and older have diabetes. More than half are at risk of vision loss because they do not know they have the disease. Use this month’s Practice Builder tools to increase awareness of diabetic eye disease among your patients and in your community and the media.

The Academy has developed a variety of resources—including a press release, a template for a practice newsletter, a poster and a patient handout—to help you focus attention on diabetic eye disease.

To explore these free materials, visit www.aao.org/ eyemd and click “Monthly Observances.”

Free Focal Points Module Is Now Online
LASIK Complications is a Focal Points module that Academy members can download as a PDF file.

Author Parag Majmudar, MD, identifies major LASIK complications and covers fundamental preoperative issues that, if neglected, can be responsible for a variety of postoperative complications. In Clinicians’ Corner, Perry S. Binder, MD, and Roy S. Rubinfeld, MD, provide additional viewpoints.

To download the module, or subscribe to Focal Points, visit www.aao.org/focalpoints.

Members at Large

State-to-State: Summer Vision Screenings for N.Y. Third Graders
Earlier this year, the New York State Ophthalmological Society helped to block a bill that would have required comprehensive eye exams for all children entering kindergarten or first grade. “Such mandates run counter to well publicized policies of the Academy, American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Family Practice, which instead call for vision testing for all school-aged children,” said NYSOS president Richard J. Freeman, MD.

Following up on that legislative success, NYSOS volunteers took part in a pilot program whereby all third graders who were attending this year’s summer school in the New York City school district would receive an eye screening.

Any child who failed the screening was referred to an eye care provider for a comprehensive eye exam, regardless of insurance status.

NYSOS heeded the call from the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner to participate in this first-time effort, which was announced during a July 6 press conference with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

NYSOS is being led in this effort by H. Jay Wisnicki, MD, who helped to recruit a roster of more than 50 volunteer ophthalmologists and noted that “NYSOS members have responded positively to being involved in this important public health initiative.”

Who’s in the News
The Daily Herald (Normal, Ill.) interviewed Gerald “Jerry” D. Horn, MD, for a June 12 article on LASIK surgery and the evolution of ophthalmic technology.

Robert K. Maloney, MD, was quoted in the May 16 issue of the Detroit Free Press on conductive keratoplasty and presbyopia, and in the June 8 issue of The New York Times on over-the-counter reading glasses.

Neil F. Martin, MD, spoke to an Associated Press reporter for an article on the Crystalens and conductive keratoplasty that appeared in the May 27 issue of the Tribune-Review (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and in the June 1 issue of the Seattle Times.

Monica L. Monica, MD, explained why athletes should protect their eyes in a May 1 article in the Daily Herald (Normal, Ill.).

William D. Myers, MD, was quoted in the May 16 issue of the Detroit Free Press on conductive keratoplasty and presbyopia.

Reporters from The New York Times asked Terrence P. O’Brien, MD, about over-the-counter glasses for an article that ran on June 8.

Tuen T. Shen, MD, was quoted in the May 5 issue of the Seattle Times on presbyopia and conductive keratoplasty.

In a June 15 article, Elizabeth R. Vaughn, MD, explained to readers of The Dallas Morning News how they could protect their eyes during the summer.

People
The Glaucoma Foundation announced a new addition to its board of directors: Paul L. Kaufman, MD.

The American Glaucoma Society has awarded Steven L. Mansberger, MD, MPH, the Glaucoma Foundation Research Fellowship. Dr. Mansberger will use the funding to continue the Tribal Vision Project, which aims to determine the prevalence of different types of glaucoma and other causes of blindness and visual impairment in Northwest American Indians and Alaskan Natives.

This summer, Stephen J. Ryan, MD, returned full-time to ophthalmology after 13 years as dean of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. “He transformed the school from a department of the county government—with only a loose affiliation with USC—into a nationally ranked research medical school,” said USC president Steven B. Sample.

The American Society of Ophthalmic Registered Nurses announced this year’s recipients of the Edna Ashy Award: Gail Morrell, RN, MSN, CRNO; Advanced Educational Scholarship Awards: Angela Runions, RN, CRNO, and Gloria Neault, RN, BSN, CRNO, CNOR; Manuscript Awards: Lisa Scicchitano, RN, BSN, CNOR, and Doris Simmons, RN; and Honor Awards: Eileen Beltramba, RN, CRNO, Pamela Schultz, RN, CRNO, and Meredith Winkler, RN, MSN, CRNO.

Washington Report

Children’s Vision Victories
The Academy’s fight for children’s vision has seen success recently in several states, most recently in the Massachusetts legislature and in the U.S. Senate.

Success in the States. In Massachusetts, the Academy bolstered the efforts of the Massachusetts Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons to achieve mandatory universal screening and follow-up for preschool children. The bill (S 687), which was signed into law by Gov. Mitt Romney in July, calls for all children upon entering kindergarten to show proof of passing a vision screening within the previous 12 months or evidence of follow-up treatment if they fail the screening.

“The key to our success was educating the legislators on the importance of early screening,” said Jean E. Ramsey, MD, pediatric ophthalmologist and president of the Massachusetts Society. In addition to Massachusetts, the Academy also helped secure children’s vision legislative victories in Connecticut and Wisconsin. A new law in Connecticut mandates vision screenings for children entering kindergarten for the first time. In 2001 in Wisconsin, the Academy helped derail optometry’s attempt to mandate comprehensive eye exams by optometrists or ophthalmologists. Instead, Wisconsin put into place voluntary screening that would be performed by an ophthalmologist, optometrist or other physician on children who are entering school, making this state the first to legislate voluntary screening provisions.

Federal Legislation. Also in July, Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) carried the children’s vision screening torch into the Senate by introducing the “Children’s Access to Vision Act of 2004” (S 2749). This bill is similar to the bipartisan HR 3602, introduced last fall by Reps. Vito Fossella (R–N.Y.) and Sue Kelly (R–N.Y.). Like its House counterpart, S 2749 would provide grants to states for comprehensive eye exams and treatment for uninsured children who fail a vision screening. 

What You Can Do. During the Joint Meeting, visit the Federal Affairs booth at the Academy’s Resource Center (Hall G, Booth #3039) and send a letter to your member of Congress on an important issue, such as children’s vision.

Candidates’ Views

Meet the Candidates for Trustee-at-Large

A petition has been filed with the office of the executive vice president to include Ronald C. May, MD, as a candidate for trustee-at-large. The Academy’s bylaws enable members to nominate a candidate by petition for a vacancy in any elected office for the following year. When voting opens on Monday, Oct. 25, you will have the opportunity to select either Dr. May or the board of trustee’s nominee, Tamara R. Fountain, MD, for a four-year term as trustee-at-large.

Statements of the candidates and their seconders are published below.

For voting instructions, see above.
___________________________________

Tamara R. Fountain, MD

Board of Trustees’ Nominee for Trustee-at-Large
Doesn’t everyone remember his or her first “Academy”? Mine was 1991 in Anaheim, and I was a third-year resident. I will never forget the first time I stepped into the Exhibit Hall; the spectacle of sights, sounds and sheer scale of corporate marketing was as thrilling to me as the Disney theme park across the street. I could not have imagined, that late-October afternoon, how influential a role the Academy would come to play in my professional life.

I got my start in Academy service on the Young Ophthalmologists Committee. Our group was charged with energizing the Academy’s outreach to members-in-training and guiding young ophthalmologists in their transition to professional practice. I served on the Lifelong Education for the Ophthalmologist committee helping physicians, perhaps years out of training, update and expand their clinical knowledge base. Each spring since 1999, I have lobbied on Capitol Hill as part of the Academy’s Advocacy Day program and have served as a Congressional Advocate on issues including Medicare reimbursement, tort reform and scope of practice. I was accepted to the inaugural class of the Leadership Development Program and received the Academy’s Achievement Award in 2001. Currently, I serve on the Academy’s Ethics committee and am an Oculoplastics course/poster reviewer for the Annual Meeting Program Committee. I am in my fourth year of service to the Ophthalmic Mutual Insurance Company, where I sit on its finance and marketing committees.

Outside of Academy service, I chair the Thesis Committee for the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, have helped organize the Women in Ophthalmology annual conference and was recently inducted into the American Eye Study Club. I’m currently president of the Illinois Association of Ophthalmology and have served as program chair of the Chicago Ophthalmological Society. I supervise a busy resident-based oculoplastics service and oversee Medical Student Education as an associate professor at Rush University while maintaining a private practice in oculoplastic surgery on Chicago’s North Shore.

The future of ophthalmology, and health care delivery in general, is at a critical crossroads. Scope of practice, government affairs, tort reform and physician certification are just a few of the issues that will continue to challenge our membership in the coming years. The Academy is one of the most respected physician groups in organized medicine. It has achieved this distinction in no small part due to exemplary leadership. I have no reservation that the Academy will meet the challenges ahead as it continues to be the public voice of its 17,000-plus members. My breadth of experience in Academy structure over the last 10 years has afforded a rich and layered appreciation of what this organization can accomplish. This exposure will help me become a thoughtful, more measured leader for what I hope to be many more years of Academy service.

What a supreme honor to receive the endorsement of the Academy’s board of trustees. I enthusiastically accept its vote of confidence in my nomination for trustee-at-large.

Seconders’ Statements for Dr. Fountain

Thomas A. Deutsch, MD: It is a pleasure for me to support the candidacy of Tamara R. Fountain, MD, as an Academy trustee-at-large. Dr. Fountain had stellar training at Stanford University, Harvard Medical School, the Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute and a fellowship in oculoplastic surgery at the Doheny Eye Institute. She is now an associate professor at Rush University Medical Center and the director of medical student education.

In addition to these academic accomplishments, Dr. Fountain has been deeply involved in both local and national organized ophthalmology. She has served as president of the Illinois Association of Ophthalmology and has been a tireless contributor to the Academy, serving on numerous committees. Dr. Fountain also earned an Achievement Award from the Academy in 2001.

Despite all of these activities, Dr. Fountain has developed a busy private practice in oculoplastic surgery and has partnered with her husband to raise two wonderful children.

I have been privileged to watch Dr. Fountain’s career develop, and I know that she will make a fabulous trustee for our entire membership. She will use her practice experience to look out for the interests of every ophthalmologist. I am delighted to support her and look forward to benefiting from her leadership in our Academy.

Stephen A. Kamenetzky, MD: In the 28 years I have been an active Academy member, I can’t think of anything more enjoyable than writing this letter in support of the nomination of Tamara R. Fountain, MD, to the board of trustees. A person with the unique qualities that Dr. Fountain possesses rarely comes along, and I believe the membership is fortunate that she has expressed a willingness to serve her profession in this very important position.

I met Dr. Fountain when she joined OMIC as a committee member several years ago and was impressed from day one. She is a listener and learner and at the same time both a natural leader and good team player. Her capacity for hard work seems limitless, and her ability to quickly analyze a problem and help craft an effective solution will be invaluable as a board member. Couple this with a keen sense of humor and a personal warmth that makes everyone around her feel comfortable, and you’ll understand why I feel so strongly that she is the perfect person to serve in this critical role. You won’t find a better person to represent you. Please give her your support. When you see her in action, you’ll be proud you did.

Ronald C. May, MD

Candidate by Petition for Trustee-at-Large
In answer to the Academy’s repeated requests in EyeNet for all interested parties to submit names to the Academy of those who would wish to stand for this election . . . I did just that. I gathered and submitted to the Academy my signed petition to stand for the election for the open trustee-at-large position weeks before I knew that my associate, Dr. Fountain, was to be the nominee of the board for that very position. At the very least that speaks volumes for my ability to choose an associate.

It’s fashionable these days to start out an election campaign by expounding on one’s war record in Vietnam. I won’t go there . . . but I’ve been there.

I believe in a strong Academy. I believe in a diverse Academy. I believe in an Academy that educates both its members and the public. I feel that the Academy should continue to strive to stay in the forefront of technology and, in particular, how it disseminates the information that it has. The Academy should continue to be a member-driven organization, and maybe more so. I would like to see the Council regain some of its ability to drive policy. Along that line, I applaud the Academy’s recent ruling on who can and cannot attend our meetings. This is something I have advocated for years.

And speaking of advocacy, this is essentially my roots within the Academy. I feel that though the Academy is far better than it used to be in the advocacy department, it can still be better, stronger and more aggressive on our behalf.

I know that the position of trustee-at-large is not a perk. It is a position of responsibility coupled with work and some time out of the office, but I am willing to do this. I bring experience to this candidacy, experience as a strong advocate for ophthalmology. For those who don’t know me, I am in the full-time private practice of general ophthalmology. In the past I have been: a member of the Council of the Academy representing Illinois, currently alternate councilor; president of the Illinois Association of Ophthalmology; founding chairman of the Illinois Medical Eye PAC and its current treasurer; member of the State Affairs Committee of the Academy; member of the OphthPAC Committee; chairman of OphthPAC; member of the Congressional Advocacy Committee of the Academy; a congressional advocate for the Academy; a continuing board member of the Illinois Association of Ophthalmology; a member of the Council of the Chicago Ophthalmological Society; and president of the Chicago Ophthalmological Society.

I feel that I am qualified to represent the average ophthalmologist to the Academy, particularly in the current climate of escalating incursions into the practice of ophthalmology by nonphysicians. I have demonstrated that I am a principled person and that I have a passion for speaking the truth and doing what is right for our profession and our patients.

Many thanks for your consideration.

Seconders’ Statements for Dr. May

Elliot M. Finkelstein, MD: It gives me great pleasure to second the nomination of Ronald C. May, MD, for election to the board of trustees of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

I’ve known Dr. May since we began our Academy service together as members of the State Affairs Committee in 1986. From the start it was obvious that Dr. May was a clear thinker and a strong advocate for each member of the states he represented and for the profession of ophthalmology.

Following his service on the State Affairs Committee, Dr. May took a leadership position on OphthPAC and helped it grow. The time commitment and effort he put into this tremendously important Academy activity put a strain in his practice, but he never backed away from his strong desire to make OphthPAC succeed.

Dr. May has also been the president of the Illinois Association of Ophthalmology and the Chicago Ophthalmological Society.

Dr. May is a good thinker, hard worker and a man who is seeking this position because he strongly feels he can help his colleagues and his profession. I second his nomination.

Donald N. Schwartz, MD: “I just got great news” . . . or so the television commercial goes that is currently promoting an automobile insurance company. This time we members of the Academy really did receive great news; Dr. May is a candidate by petition for the trustee-at-large position on the board of trustees.

I have known Dr. May since 1986 and can attest to his unflagging commitment to the Academy and preserving its excellence. He served as an early leader of OphthPAC and as its chairman for six years. I also knew him from his earlier work as a member of the State Affairs Committee. Here he helped states in the development of their own organizations. He traveled extensively on behalf of the Academy to help states in their advocacy programs and went well beyond what was asked of him in any assignment.

Dr. May is a comprehensive ophthalmologist who would be an independent voice and who is unafraid to voice new ideas; at the same time he has the long-term perspective that only experience can offer. I can’t imagine a better candidate for this position at this critical time. I am honored to second his nomination.