Wow! I was overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude upon the receiving the news that I had been nominated by the AAO Board of Trustees for the position of AAO president to serve in 2024. I am deeply honored and committed to the Academy, our members and the patients who put their trust in us every day, across our nation and globe.
In surveys of ophthalmologists, our profession is routinely ranked the highest in personal satisfaction and professional fulfillment compared to other fields of medicine. Unfortunately, our profession confronts challenges every year, with the pandemic adding new hardships. One major challenge is the shortage of qualified staff and supplies, which is leading to growing fixed costs in the face of declining reimbursements, time-consuming preauthorizations and increasing expectations of patient throughput while still providing high quality, value-based eye care.
In addition to staffing shortages, our country will experience an increasing shortage of physicians overall. National studies have predicted an increasing shortage of ophthalmologists over the next 10 years, in part due to the growing senior population and limited expansion of ophthalmology residencies. Lastly, our profession continues to be confronted with ever-growing legislative battles which challenge our preeminence by granting non-physicians an increasing scope of practice.
There are no easy solutions for these complex issues, but to the role of president I bring a background of leadership and extensive experience. I have practiced pediatric ophthalmology and neuro-ophthalmology in academic settings for 32 years. I have also served the Academy throughout my career as member of numerous committees (including BCSC volume 6), chair of multiple committees (LEO/maintenance of certification education, awards, membership advisory), director of Subspecialty Day in Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, AAPOS councilor to the Academy and trustee-at-large on the Academy Board of Trustees. In addition, I am a past president of AAPOS and continue to serve as an ABO oral board examiner.
Lastly, for the past five years I have served as the inaugural chair of the department of ophthalmology, University of Texas, Austin, Dell Medical School and the director of the Mitchel and Shannon Wong Eye Institute. During my tenure as chair, I have recruited and onboarded the department’s first group of terrific faculty and overseen the construction of two ophthalmology clinics, staff hiring, and the successful completion of our application for a new ophthalmology residency. This summer we welcomed our first class of ophthalmology residents. It is in the role of department chair that I feel I have gained the greatest understanding of the issues that confront our profession, our members, and our patients.
These experiences have prepared me well for service as the Academy president. My commitment to serve our profession, our members and our patients is unwavering. I will work alongside the talented Academy staff to tirelessly face the headwinds that lie ahead so that we may continue to serve our patients, educate our members and future generations of ophthalmologists and remain the medical profession with the highest level of personal and professional satisfaction.