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January 2007

President's Statement
Future Shock Therapy
C. P. Wilkinson, MD
2007 Academy President

The famous book Future Shock by Alvin Toffler was first published during my final year of residency. Toffler identified both a “super-industrial revolution” that was occurring as a result of the acceleration and expansion of knowledge and a variety of psychological reactions that would be expected to occur among individuals who had difficulty in keeping up with these changes.

An accelerated rate of change in medicine continues today, and both we and our patients understandably experience varying degrees of awe and frustration regarding the transformations that have taken place since Future Shock first appeared. The dizzying number of payment and reimbursement schemes, the evolution in practice patterns, and the scientific revolution have all contributed to a sense of disorientation among many parties.

The Academy is the strongest organization in U.S. ophthalmology, and its role as advocate for our professional needs has become increasingly important as patterns in health care continue to evolve. As your incoming president, I will dedicate a major portion of my effort to supporting this advocacy.

The Academy plays a similarly strong role when it comes to education.

Ophthalmology has seen remarkable progress that has allowed us to serve our patients better. Aphakia is a disability of the past, a multitude of topical agents are available for treatment of glaucoma, previously incurable vitreoretinal disorders are now managed in routine fashions, and growing numbers of patients are literally throwing away their glasses!

However, in the midst of this extraordinary evolution, I, for one, have occasionally experienced the sense of disorientation that Toffler predicted long ago. A thorough understanding of the enormous number of diagnostic and therapeutic modalities has become more difficult to assimilate.

Fortunately, the growth of knowledge has stimulated our Academy’s own revolution in its education efforts. It is producing an ever-expanding number and variety of instructional materials, and I believe that these resources represent the best available therapy for symptoms of future shock.

The Academy has been the premier source of educational materials for our residency programs for many decades. The Home Study Course, introduced in 1940, eventually grew into the Basic and Clinical Science Course (BCSC) by 1970. Since then, the BCSC has grown from brief booklets in outline-syllabus formats to 13 volumes of full-text books.

Many additional educational materials have been developed over recent years, ranging from Focal Points and a large number of Preferred Practice Patterns to Academy Express and the recently developed Maintenance of Certification Essentials. All of these are intended to help us as physicians deliver the “best possible eye care,” a cornerstone of the Academy’s mission.

The public believes that physicians should continue lifelong learning through CME activities, and it also strongly endorses the process of recertification. Our Academy continues to provide us with the tools to fulfill these expectations. My personal experiences in both Academy CME activities and ABO Maintenance of Certification development have convinced me that even “old dogs” such as myself can acquire new and essential information. As your president, I will remain committed to providing Academy members with the most contemporary educational products, and, consequently, the antidotes for future shock.