The Student Chapter of the American Academy of Optometry has made quite a splash at the College recently. The club regularly engages the majority of the SUNY Optometry community and, as a result, it has helped to facilitate a significant increase in the level of student participation at the Academy Meeting which takes place each fall.
Because of the club’s efforts, the Student Council recently named the Student Chapter of the American Academy of Optometry the College’s “Club of the Year.”
We asked club president and third year OD student, Natalie Nguyen (pictured in the center at left with other members of the club), a few questions about the Student Chapter of the American Academy of Optometry and why she thinks it’s so important for optometry students to get involved with the profession:
Tell us about the Student Chapter of the American Academy of Optometry and the level of student involvement with the club as well as how you got involved and became its president.
The Student Chapter of the American Academy of Optometry is about promoting excellent vision care through lifelong learning. The club is affiliated with the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) which has often used the motto, “Today’s Research, Tomorrow’s Practice” which is something that we take to heart. The basis of the AAO and the student chapter is the notion that optometry is constantly changing and that the ability to provide the highest quality clinical care comes directly from keeping up-to-date with the most current vision science research as well as through supporting continuing education. The AAO is composed of optometrists and vision scientists, while the student chapter is made up of students who share the same mindset of those in the AAO.
Over 75 percent of the student population at SUNY are members of the club, and we are always welcoming new members throughout the year. I became involved during my second year, after attending a few meetings and learning more about the organization, both at SUNY and at the national level. I became president through an election process and have become more passionate about the club ever since.
My desire to become a Fellow of the Academy after graduation has helped to fuel my enthusiasm for the club now while I am still a student.
What are the goals of the club and what sorts of activities do you engage in?
The club looks to promote student involvement at SUNY Optometry and to encourage students to attend the annual Academy Meeting. We like to encourage all students to become members and to attend the Academy Meeting, whether they are currently engaged in research or not.
Recently, one of our major activities was to conduct a pinning ceremony to honor new Student Fellows who attended the Academy Meeting last year and completed the program. At the ceremony, student fellows receive pins for their white coats and certificates. This was our first pinning ceremony and we’re looking to continue this tradition in the future.
Why do you think it’s important for optometry students to be active participants in clubs and in the profession in general?
I think it’s important for students to be involved in clubs and active in the optometric profession both as students and eventually as doctors because optometry is a dynamic field that depends on involvement and support from its members in order to thrive and progress. We are all well aware of the tremendous progress that optometry has made in recent year yet, despite this, we still have a long way to go. It’s important to stay actively involved in national organizations to perpetuate the growing success of our profession.
Membership to the College’s Student Chapter of the American Academy of Optometry is free and open to all OD students as well as to full time students in the vision sciences and in-house residents. In addition, student membership to the AAO is available for a flat fee of $30, which covers all four years of the OD program plus residency for recent graduates. For more information and the application, please visit: www.aaopt.org/student