• Thomas A Graul, M.D.It is a great honor to be nominated for council chair. I currently serve as council vice chair and was previously the deputy state section leader and councilor from Nebraska. The council is the collective voice of the membership of the Academy, and I hope to facilitate open communication between councilors and the board about the many challenges facing our profession. I hope to encourage networking between councilors, increase the number of Council Advisory Recommendations (CARs) submitted, increase participation of councilors in advocacy and represent councilors and Academy members faithfully as a member of the Board of Trustees.

    I received my medical degree at the University of Nebraska, and after my ophthalmology residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin, I practiced as a general ophthalmologist for six years. I then returned for a glaucoma fellowship at the University of Iowa. I joined a private practice in my hometown as a glaucoma specialist and soon became involved on the Executive Board of the Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons. I participated in the Academy’s Leadership Development Program in 2004, and then became my state society’s president in 2009. One week into my presidency my leadership skills were tested as we faced our first optometric surgery legislation. I found myself involved in a battle to defend my profession and the safety of my patients. We ultimately defeated this first bill but have fought optometric legislation nearly every session since.

    Our state society could not have mounted an effective opposition without the help of the Academy. I was appointed to the Surgical Scope Fund committee that year and two years later became its chair, where I was responsible for developing and implementing plans to raise more funds as optometry widened their attack to multiple states. I worked closely with Academy leaders and staff and in the process learned both valuable leadership skills and the inner workings of the Academy. I continue to fundraise to advocate for our profession, currently serving on the OPHTHPAC® committee. I also serve on the Product Advisory Committee. I have received the AAO Achievement, Senior Achievement and Secretariat awards.

    Although I have been in private practice my entire career, I’ve always felt it was important to give back to my profession through education. I have been the program director for our state society’s scientific meeting for 19 years and have taught medical students and ophthalmology residents since I left residency. As clinical assistant professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, I taught residents cataract surgery, and since returning to Nebraska I was appointed adjunct associate professor at the University of Nebraska, giving regular lectures to ophthalmology residents. For the Academy, I served on the Practicing Ophthalmologists Curriculum Glaucoma Panel, then became its chair. I am an examiner for the American Board of Ophthalmology.

    It has been a privilege to work with the current council chair and an honor to serve on the Board of Trustees during a challenging time for our profession. I am passionate about ophthalmology and have spent my career fighting for our patients and profession. I believe my leadership experience and involvement in advocacy and education will be beneficial as council chair.