In my opinion, being an ophthalmologist in Oklahoma makes you automatically an advocate for our profession and the safety of our patients. In 2004, the president of the state society – a passionate advocate herself – called to ask if I would accept the position of PAC treasurer. I was flattered that she would consider me as member of the Oklahoma team, particularly because that year we had a very comprehensive optometric-surgery bill pending in the legislature. We needed action, and that’s how I found myself at the forefront of the battle.
We were successful at this time thanks to support from the Academy and the Surgery by Surgeons campaign. They helped us gather the troops. With them behind us, the Oklahoma ophthalmologist listened to the call to action. We were able to go on one more year without any major changes on the already significant optometric scope of practice. The message was heard loud and clear: “Your profession, your patients are being threatened.”
That was my first battle. As for a lot of us, it was just the first of many. It has not been so easy in the subsequent years to keep up. I found it difficult to convince my colleagues that supporting their local society is not equivalent to attacking the practitioners who refer patients for cataract surgery. One of the benefits of being a member of the state society is visiting the state capitol representing our profession. We talk to the legislators about the quality of eye care we seek for our patients – their constituents – and about our willingness to participate in the process of building the eye-care team.
We as ophthalmologists are facing many challenges in the new health care environment. Becoming an advocate for our patients and our profession, getting involved in the process, will enable us to adapt to the new rules and deliver top-quality eye care as members of an ophthalmology-lead team.
We need to be present and passionate in this process of implementing the new rules and regulations for medical practice in general, and in ophthalmology in particular. We need to be involved, to advocate at local and national levels, and at the same time deliver the best eye care in our practice. Balancing both can be a fine art!”
Amalia Miranda, MD, is an ophthalmologist in Oklahoma City, Okla.