EyeNet Magazine



   
 
Feature
H. Dunbar Hoskins Jr., MD
By Lori Baker Schena, Contributing Writer
 
 

16 Years of Academy Leadership and Achievement

Over the last decade and a half as the Academy’s Executive Vice President, Dr. Hoskins has led the organization—and ophthalmology—through a rapidly changing political and clinical landscape.

On March 31, H. Dunbar Hoskins Jr., MD, retires as executive vice president (EVP) of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, wrapping up a 16-year journey that has advanced the organization’s collective goals of improving the global education of ophthalmologists, protecting the public interest, and ensuring quality and appropriate eye care for those in need.

“From the very beginning, Dunbar hit the ground running and never looked back while clearly establishing his legacy as a visionary leader,” noted B. Thomas Hutchinson, MD, current chairman of the Academy’s Foundation who served as the Academy’s president in 1993—the same year Dr. Hoskins became EVP. “Dunbar has been the ultimate team player as well the quarterback and coach for the Academy staff and membership. What a wonderful winning combination.”

For Dr. Hoskins, his tenure as EVP has been challenging and rewarding, helping guide the Academy as it navigated the often rough waters of a continually changing educational, regulatory and clinical landscape. “Our staff is simply outstanding, and we have been blessed through the years with lots of volunteer doctors, who are the heart and soul of the Academy,” Dr. Hoskins said. “This has led the Academy to become one of the best medical societies in the world.”

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THE BACKSTORY

A look at Dr. Hoskins’ career takes us back to Lynchburg, Va., where he was born and raised. His father was an ENT/ophthalmologist who made the decision in 1959 to focus exclusively on ophthalmology because he had become tired of treating “bleeding tonsils in the middle of the night,” Dr. Hoskins recalled. It was a decision that greatly impacted the future EVP. While he briefly flirted with astrophysics, he decided to focus on medicine so he could “do something for people.”

While he was initially interested in internal medicine during medical school at the Medical College of Virginia, Dr. Hoskins was soon drawn to ophthalmology, “which gave physicians the concrete ability to do something positive.” He completed his glaucoma fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco.

Dr. Hoskins was introduced to the Academy by Robert N. Shaffer, MD, who also was involved with the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology (PAAO). Dr. Hoskins served on numerous Academy committees and also was the PAAO secretary-treasurer for North America from 1975 to 1985 while running a busy glaucoma practice. In 1993 he was tapped to replace Bruce E. Spivey, MD, as executive vice president of the Academy, and the rest, as they say, is history.

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KEY MILESTONES

Dr. Hoskins’ list of honors and accomplishments could fill pages. Academy President Michael W. Brennan, MD, attributed Dr. Hoskins’ success to his ability to “keep one eye on the ball, and one eye on the horizon.” He explained, “While he focuses on the current challenges, he sees where we need to be in five years, 10 years. There is evidence of this in so many areas.” For example, he cited Dr. Hoskins’ leadership in launching the Ophthalmic News & Education Network (www.aao.org/one), a combined effort of the Academy and ophthalmic subspecialty societies to provide a single source of clinical information for ophthalmologists around the world.

When Dr. Hoskins reviews his 16-year tenure, several points of pride stand out. Among those he feels most passionate about is creating an environment that welcomes new ideas and innovative thought by “ensuring that any idea with any merit could be debated in the Academy.” One vivid example: refractive surgery in the 1990s. “At the time, these were challenging procedures because a lot of patients ended up with complications,” Dr. Hoskins recalled. “But we felt that we needed to debate and discuss refractive surgery within the Academy structure, keeping our members up to date with balanced information.”

Another challenge during Dr. Hoskins’ tenure was the introduction by the American Board of Ophthalmology (ABO) of its Maintenance of Certification (MOC) requirements in response to public pressure to increase physician accountability through participation in recertification testing. “At the Academy, we felt it was important to interact with the American Board of Ophthalmology to ensure that whatever subjects our members were tested on were truly relevant to their clinical practice,” Dr. Hoskins said. “Working with the ABO, we created the stages and sections of the MOC, including core knowledge and specialty testing, and developed a curriculum around these areas.” For Dr. Hoskins, the intensive effort to create a practicing ophthalmologists curriculum constituted a “great achievement” and has become a model for different medical societies throughout the country.

For Dr. Hoskins, expansion of the Academy onto the Washington scene was another milestone. “The Academy became much more vigorous with its legislative efforts, and it is now truly the voice of ophthalmology in Washington, D.C., providing leadership in legislative and regulatory activities,” he said.

He is also proud of how the Foundation has become more directly integrated with the Academy, giving it the opportunity to expand much more effectively. “We now have a reasonable endowment that will grow,” Dr. Hoskins said. “The Academy is an educational organization and consequently needs dollars to keep providing quality education. A lot of that support has to come from philanthropy.”

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ELEVATING THE PROFESSION

One person who has worked extremely closely with Dr. Hoskins for the last 16 years is David Noonan, who in January 2009 closed a four-decade chapter as deputy executive vice president of the Academy. His reminiscences come from “the trenches” as he worked in tandem with the executive vice president to accomplish numerous goals. “Dr. Hoskins fashioned and designed the modern Academy,” Mr. Noonan said. “He restructured the organizational charter of the Academy, including the reporting responsibilities.

“In addition, he clearly defined our strategic planning process,” Mr. Noonan continued. “He began every Board meeting with a strategic issue, actively engaging the Board in strategic planning.” One key accomplishment, according to Mr. Noonan, was increasing involvement with other specialty societies, addressing the major issues facing organized medicine and the patients they serve.

“His loyalty to the profession and the Academy is unmatched,” Mr. Noonan added. “This is evident by the hours and hours of time he dedicated to the job. Without a doubt, he brought the Academy into the 21st century. He was the right man for the time, and he clearly elevated the profession.”

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LOOKING FORWARD

David W. Parke II, MD, who is taking the reins as executive vice president on April 1, said he believes Dr. Hoskins would have been successful as a leader in any environment, be it academic or as CEO of a Fortune 500 company. “He is a leader who can be true to the organization’s mission while making successful and data-based business decisions,” Dr. Parke said.

He added, “Dr. Hoskins is a remarkably kind and supportive individual who knows how to judge the talents of his team and to use those talents for the good of the organization. For 16 years, he took hundreds of ophthalmologists and put them in positions where they could succeed and benefit the profession.” He said that he is “absolutely delighted” Dr. Hoskins will continue his activities in Academy leadership in a consulting capacity. “We work well together, and there is mutual friendship. His wise counsel will be a tremendous resource to me in the years going forward.”

For Dr. Hoskins, ophthalmology faces huge challenges in the future, starting with the economy. “When I announced my retirement in June 2008, the market instantly tanked,” said Dr. Hoskins with his legendary sense of humor. “On a serious note, patients will continue to need our services. But Boomers are reaching age 65 in huge numbers, and in another 10 years, the volume of ophthalmic care will explode. Everyone will be busy, but the government is running out of money. That is a big challenge—keeping up with the volume.”

With an eye to the future, there is no doubt that Dr. Hoskins will continue to help the Academy navigate through the challenges of providing quality care, staying at the forefront in advocacy and protecting the public interest.

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THE HOSKINS YEARS HIGHLIGHTS
Important achievements of Dr. Hoskins’ tenure

1993 21,500 Academy members.

First Public Trustee (Humphrey Taylor) appointed to the Academy’s board of trustees to serve in 1994.

Mid-Year Forum launched.

OphthPAC raised $1.4 million (one of the largest specialty PACs).

Academy Foundation granted $280,000 toward Academy’s educational mission.

Annual Meeting attendance was 23,000.

1994 First Subspecialty Day held.

Basic and Clinical Science Course was 3,300 pages.

1995 The Refractive Surgery Interest Group formed.

First Technology Pavilion at the Annual Meeting.

Ophthalmology published on CD-ROM.

1996 First Academy Web site (www.eyenet.org) went live.
1997 EyeNet Magazine replaced Argus as the member newsmagazine.

The National Eye Care Project (now EyeCare America’s Seniors EyeCare Program) partnered with the Knights Templar Eye Foundation.

1998 655 Beach Street building purchased.

First Annual Leadership Development course.

First Congressional Advocacy Day.

American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives (AAOE) established.

Focal Points’ circulation broke 5,000; won Award of Excellence from the American Society of Association Executives.

1999 Eye M.D. campaign launched.

Medem incorporated.

The Surgical Scope Fund was established. Since 1999, the Academy has successfully derailed optometric surgery initiatives that threaten patient quality of surgical care in 27 states.

2000 All Academy Foundation national public service programs consolidated under the EyeCare America brand.

Osteopaths received full Academy membership rights.

The Academy’s glaucoma detection benefit under Medicare was signed into law.

Ophthalmology launched online.

2001 The Academy’s Web site, www.eyenet.org, became www.aao.org.
2002 Academy Express introduced. BCSC expanded to 4,800 pages, 12 sections.

BCSC expanded to 4,800 pages, 12 sections.

2003 Laureate Award established.

ISRS and RSIG merged and formed ISRS/AAO.

2004 Eye Injury Snapshot Project launched.
2005 First woman president of the Academy, Susan H. Day, MD.

Practicing Ophthalmologists Curriculum launched with 1,015 topics.

The Academy MOC Essentials introduced to aid members studying for the ABO’s first DOCK exam.

Ophthalmology journal had the highest Impact Factor among ophthalmic peer-reviewed publications from 2005 through 2007 (scores not available yet for 2008).

EyeNet ranks first among ophthalmic trade magazines for how thoroughly ophthalmologists read it, and it earned this industry distinction again from 2006 through 2008.

Profession of Ophthalmology, companion to the BCSC, published.

2006 Largest Annual Meeting attendance ever, 29,000 attendees.

Global Alliances division launched.

2007 The O.N.E. Network www.aao.org/one went live.

EyeSmart public education campaign launched.

2008 OphthPAC raised $2.2 million (still one of the of the largest specialty PACs).

Academy Foundation granted $2,500,000 toward Academy’s educational mission.

BCSC was more than 5,000 pages.

EyeCare America helped its one millionth person.

2009 29,500 Academy members.

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