ASCO News

Symposium generously funded by VSP Global

Generously sponsored by VSP Global, the ASCO/NOA/AAO Joint Symposium on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will be held during AAO’s annual meeting, Academy 2020 At Home.

The Symposium will showcase the current state of diversity in optometry and will feature an overview of diversity in the schools and colleges of optometry, and ASCO’s, AAO’s, and NOA’s diversity and inclusion efforts to date; an equity and inclusion success story from a non-optometric health field (veterinary medicine); and strategies for working toward a more diverse, culturally sensitive, and inclusive profession.

This Symposium is complementary to ASCO’s public awareness campaign, Optometry Gives Me Life, which strives to increase the quality and quantity of the applicant pool, especially among those students in underrepresented minority groups. The three sponsoring associations have plans to continue their collaboration and create additional diversity-equity-inclusion-related programming for Academy 2021 Boston.

Symposium Planning Chair Dr. Karla Zadnik, Dean of the College of Optometry at The Ohio State University said, “This symposium is the first of its kind for our three organizations. Ever. Co-presented by ASCO, the NOA and the AAO, it will foster conversation regarding diversity and inclusion in optometry. Hopefully, faculty members at all ASCO institutions will make attendance a high priority.”

“VSP Global® is honored to sponsor the Diversity Symposium at Academy 2020 at Home,” said Michelle Skinner, VSP Global Chief Network Officer. “This is an important conversation that aligns with our own organization’s diversity & inclusion strategy, which is focused on accelerating diversity, inclusion and equity efforts to support the diverse communities we serve, including optometry students and Doctors of Optometry.”

“The American Academy of Optometry membership pillar focuses on increasing membership for under-represented populations. We recently formed a Diversity Task Force that will, among other things, focus on developing initiatives and programs addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion to improve and increase diversity in Academy membership and leadership. Confronting the longstanding pandemic of inequality and racism in our society and our profession requires all of us to do the honest, uncomfortable work of addressing it and facilitating change,” said Sherrol Reynolds, OD, FAAO, Chair, Membership Pillar, American Academy of Optometry and President of the National Optometric Association.

Attendees do not need to be registered for Academy 2020 at Home in order to attend the Symposium. Click here to access the link to view the Symposium. A video recording of the event will be made available at a later date.

Symposium presenters are:

Dr. Gary Chu, Vice President, Professional Affairs, The New England College of Optometry, and Chair of the ASCO Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Special Interest Group; Dr. Edna Chun, Chief Learning Officer, HigherEd Talent, and author of numerous books including “Leading a Diversity Culture Shift in Higher Education” (2018); Dr. Rustin Moore, Dean, College of Veterinary Medicine and Ruth Stanton Chair in Veterinary Medicine, Department of Veterinary Clinical Services, The Ohio State University.

The session will be moderated by representatives of each of the three sponsoring associations, Dr. Cynthia Heard, Professor of Optometry, Southern College of Optometry and Chair, AAO Diversity Task Force; Dr. Sherrol Reynolds, Associate Professor and Chief, Retina and Primary Care Clinic at Nova Southeastern University and President, National Optometric Association; and Dr. Karla Zadnik, Glenn A. Fry Professor of Optometry and Physiological Optics and Dean at The Ohio State University College of Optometry. The program will feature a question and answer wrap-up at the conclusion of the presentations.

About The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO)

The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) advances optometric education and research to enhance the health and well-being of the public. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Rockville, MD, ASCO is committed to achieving excellence in optometric education and to helping its member institutions prepare well-qualified graduates for entrance into the profession of optometry. Its membership encompasses the schools and colleges of optometry in the United States. A number of optometry schools outside the United States are affiliate and associate members.

About American Academy of Optometry (AAO)

The American Academy of Optometry (AAO) inspires excellence in optometric practice by fostering research and disseminating knowledge in vision science through its journal, Optometry and Vision Science, and the continuing education presented at its annual meeting. Fellows of the Academy are committed to the premise that learning is a lifelong obligation of a professional, as is the commitment to expand the profession’s knowledge base through ongoing fellowship and exchange. For more information, visit the website: www.aaopt.org

About The National Optometric Association (NOA)
The National Optometric Association (NOA), founded in 1969, is dedicated to the optometric profession and service to the underserved through our mission of, “Advancing the Visual Health of Minority Populations.” The NOA is comprised primarily of minority optometrists from throughout the United States. The NOA continues to develop programs and initiatives to help improve diversity in school and colleges of optometry, scholarships, mentorship and partnerships to increase awareness about eye diseases, and outreach to underserved communities. More information about the NOA is available online at: https://nationaloptometricassociation.com

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As universities and hospitals suspend routine patient care to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) is partnering with the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) to help enhance case-based student education.

Read full press release

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The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) is offering an educational webinar and resource-rich toolkit for practitioners and others interested in sharing why optometry should be a profession of choice. Components of ASCO’s public awareness campaign, Optometry Gives Me Life, the webinar, and its companion tool kit, includes videos of three featured Doctors of Optometry, downloadable artwork for posters and brochures, and sample social media posts.

Optometry Gives Me Life was launched in March 2019 to address the troubling decline of qualified applicants in recent years, and lack of diversity within the applicant pool. It is a public education campaign that reaches college-aged students who have expressed an interest in pursuing a STEM degree or working in a health profession. The campaign is also focusing on students in underrepresented groups through highly targeted outreach. Visit www.futureeyedoc.org for more information.

“In the first full year of deployment, the OGML campaign is showing positive results,” says Dr. John Flanagan, ASCO President. “The campaign is successfully reaching potential students. What has been missing is engaging current Doctors of Optometry who want to be ambassadors and promote the profession. This is where the toolkit and webinar come in. Our hope is that the webinar will inspire ODs to use ASCO’s materials, attend career fairs and community events, distribute printed materials within their communities, and speak to students and their parents about all the wonderful things the profession has to offer.”

The Optometry Gives Me Life toolkit can be downloaded here.

Watch the complementary webinar here.

ASCO wishes to thank Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, featured OD in the campaign, for sponsoring the webinar.

ASCO also thanks its sponsors VSP Global, Alcon, Luxottica, Hoya, National Vision, Allergan, CooperVision, and the California Optometric Association as well as the 23 schools and colleges of optometry for their generous support of the Optometry Gives Me Life campaign.

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The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) is pleased to announce that there was a 3.7% increase in applicants compared to the previous application cycle, as well as an 18% increase and a 7% increase in Black and Latino/Hispanic applicants respectively.

The 2020 application cycle ran from July 27, 2019 through June 15, 2020.

There were 2,563 applicants who submitted a total of 11,873 applications. For applications, OptomCAS (Optometry Centralized Application Service) experienced a 1.1% increase in applications submitted compared to last year.

Optometry Gives Me Life, which was launched in March 2019, was developed due to a downward decline in recent years of qualified applicants to the first-year classes, and the lack of diversity amongst the applicants, of the 23 schools and colleges of optometry.

“These results are promising. For the first time in three years, we are seeing an increase in applicants,” says Dr. John Flanagan, ASCO President. “The data from the first year of the Optometry Gives Me Life campaign has dramatically increased awareness of the profession to potential students who may not be aware of optometry. The campaign also targets qualified students from underrepresented groups. We know there is much work left to be done but we renew our commitment to reach and to bring the best and brightest to the field of optometry.”

ASCO wishes to thank its sponsors VSP Global, Alcon, Luxottica, Hoya, National Vision, Allergan, CooperVision, and the California Optometric Association as well as the 23 schools and colleges of optometry for their support to the Optometry Gives Me Life campaign.

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ROCKVILLE, MD, August 5, 2020 – ASCO is extremely pleased to announce its public awareness campaign, Optometry Gives Me Life, is named a 2020 Power of A Gold Award Winner by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE).

The Power of A Awards recognize and celebrate the extraordinary contributions associations make to society by enriching lives, creating a competitive workforce, preparing society for the future, driving innovation, and making a better world, including educating outside audiences about the true value of associations and the resources they bring to bear on our nation’s most pressing problems.

“Congratulations to this year’s Summit Award winners, whose range of activities speak to the incredible influence associations have on society,” said Barry Pilson, CAE, Vice President, Membership and Marketing, National Business Officers Association and this year’s chair of the Power of A Awards Judging Committee. “We look forward to celebrating exceptional work in the association community every year, but with the challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s especially gratifying in ASAE’s Centennial year to recognize and salute association excellence. Associations make a notable difference in the world and that’s one thing this current crisis has only magnified.”

“ASCO’s Optometry Gives Me Life was born from a troubling decline in applicants to our 23 optometry schools and colleges,” says ASCO President, Dr. John Flanagan. “Through this campaign, launched in March 2019, we are already seeing an increase in the number of qualified applicants, including underrepresented groups, and have dramatically increased the exposure of the profession of optometry to college students nationwide.”

“We thank ASAE for this honor and appreciate this recognition,” says Dr. Lewis Reich, Chair of ASCO’s Applicant Pool Development Task Force. “This campaign is in its infancy and we hope to continue it for at least three more years. The support of all our institutions, ASCO staff, members of the task force, and especially the campaign sponsors, have allowed us to fund this campaign and reach the best and the brightest college students entering a health profession. Your support has been invaluable and we couldn’t have done this without you.”

ASCO thanks the Optometry Gives Me Life sponsors: All 23 schools and colleges of optometry; VSPGlobal, Alcon, Essilor, Luxottica; Hoya; National Vision, Allergan, CooperVision, and the California Optometric Association.

For more information visit https://www.thepowerofa.org/awards/

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The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) advances optometric education and research to enhance the health and well-being of the public. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Rockville, MD, ASCO is committed to achieving excellence in optometric education and to helping its member institutions prepare well-qualified graduates for entrance into the profession of optometry. Its membership encompasses the schools and colleges of optometry in the United States. A number of optometry schools outside the United States are affiliate and associate members.

 

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The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) and CooperVision understand that COVID-19 has greatly impacted student financial resources, loss of income, and financial aid opportunities. As a result, CooperVision donated $25,000 to start a 2020-2021 ASCO Student Relief Program, which will provide emergency funding to support students attending an ASCO member school or college of optometry.

ASCO’s President Dr. John Flanagan, Dean at the University of California – Berkeley School of Optometry, noted, “ASCO has been increasingly concerned about the added stress and financial burdens placed on our optometry students as a result of COVID-19. Our partnership with CooperVision will allow ASCO the opportunity to provide much-needed relief to ease this additional stress. CooperVision’s mission is united in its strong desire to help others, which is demonstrated through their support of ASCO and our students.”

“COVID-19 has impacted nearly every area of our lives in some shape or form. At CooperVision, we are continuously evaluating ways to support current and future eye care professionals through these challenges,” said Michele Andrews, OD, Senior Director of Professional and Academic Affairs, North America, CooperVision. “Through the ASCO Student Relief Program, we can help students dedicated to building careers in optometry by ensuring they can keep progressing in their education, and ultimately, the achievement of their goals.”

Each of ASCO’s schools and colleges of optometry will select either one (1) student to receive a $1,000 grant or two (2) students to each receive a $500 grant. ASCO and CooperVision will not be involved in selecting the grant recipients.  Each institution will develop its criteria. While this is a need-based grant, not based on an academic achievement, the student must demonstrate academic progress. Institutions are encouraged to prioritize awarding students with the greatest financial need. This is a one year program to provide financial assistance as a result of students impacted by COVID-19.

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The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) announces its support of a nationwide pause on advertising on Facebook and Instagram social media channels at least through the month of July. Called “Stop Hate for Profit,” the purpose of the boycott is to encourage Facebook and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) to change its monitoring policies and procedures to stop postings that incite hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence.

“We believe it would be irresponsible to continue advertising at a time when so many voices have spoken up for positive change,” said ASCO President John Flanagan. ASCO’s Optometry Gives Me Life awareness campaign has been using both the Facebook and Instagram platforms to reach undergraduates with a message about the benefits of pursuing a career in optometry.

Dr. Lewis Reich, Chair of ASCO’s Applicant Pool Development Task Force which oversees the Optometry Gives Me Life campaign, agrees. “We have multiple ways to reach our target audience, so the Stop Hate for Profit protest won’t be stopping our outreach.”

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The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) advances optometric education and research to enhance the health and well-being of the public. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Rockville, MD, ASCO is committed to achieving excellence in optometric education and to helping its member institutions prepare well-qualified graduates for entrance into the profession of optometry. Its membership encompasses the schools and colleges of optometry in the United States. A number of optometry schools outside the United States are affiliate and associate members.

For more information on the Stop Hate for Profit movement, visit https://www.stophateforprofit.org/. Information about ASCO’s Optometry Gives Me Life campaign can be found at https://www.futureeyedoc/. Visit https://www.optometriceducation.org/ for information about ASCO.

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The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) announces the recipients of the 2020 Special Recognition Awards.

ASCO Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Janice Scharre is this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner and ASCO’s first female recipient. This award recognizes an outstanding individual who, over an extended period of time, provided exceptional leadership to ASCO and to optometric education; made outstanding contributions to the optometric community; and displayed exemplary commitment and dedication to the association.

Dr. Janice Scharre began her optometric career as a graduate of the Illinois College of Optometry (ICO) in 1976. Shortly after graduation, she joined the faculty at ICO, where she served in a variety of capacities. Among the awards she received at ICO was the Inaugural Dr. Joseph L. Henry Achievement Award in June 2007.

Dr. Scharre with her colleague, Dr. David Heath, developed and implemented the Association of Schools and Colleges Faculty Development Institute – a program designed to enhance faculty teaching and professional development skills.

In 2014, Dr. Scharre joined Salus University as the Provost. At Salus, she had the opportunity to work in a multidisciplinary educational setting with Pennsylvania College of Optometry as the founding college of the University. Dr. Scharre was recently awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science degree by Salus University. She retired from Salus in 2018.

“I am honored to be the 2020 recipient of ASCO’s Lifetime Achievement Award,” says Dr. Scharre. “I have had the opportunity to work with gifted faculty and dedicated administrators on behalf of students and patients throughout my career. I have been blessed with supportive mentors and colleagues in my work. My accomplishments are a reflection of those who have supported and guided me throughout my career. It is humbling to me to be recognized from my peers in this way.

“The work that ASCO does for the enhancement of optometric education and the profession is outstanding. Over the years I have witnessed this group take on difficult issues and develop and implement strategies for the good of students, the profession, and the public,” she continues. “We currently are in the most significant time of disruption to optometric training that I have ever seen in my lifetime. I am confident that, as a collective body, you will continue to maintain a high quality of optometric education for our students and patients.”

ASCO Rising Star Award
Sponsored by Oculus, the ASCO Rising Star Award is given to an outstanding faculty member or administrator with less than seven years of service who has made noteworthy contributions to fulfilling the mission, strategic objections, or programs of ASCO. This year’s Rising Star awardee is Erik Mothersbaugh, OD, MPH.

Dr. Erik Mothersbaugh serves as the Dean of Student Affairs at Illinois College of Optometry, where he is primarily focused on the areas of Recruiting, Admissions, and Student Services. He is an alum of ICO, who after completing his Doctor of Optometry degree in 2012 stayed to complete a Residency in Primary Care and Ocular Disease. He then served full-time on ICO’s faculty before joining the President’s Administrative Cabinet in 2018. During his time as a faculty member he taught courses in Visual Optics and Ethics in addition to patient care responsibilities in the Primary Care and Urgent Care services of the Illinois Eye Institute.

“It is an honor to be recognized by ASCO for this award,” says Dr. Mothersbaugh. “Among this group I have no shortage of mentorship. I am incredibly grateful to be part of an organization so dedicated to high quality education and the future of the profession of Optometry. Thank you!”

ASCO Student Award in Clinical Ethics
This annual national award, sponsored by Alcon, is available to optometry students during any point of their professional program at an ASCO-affiliated school or college of optometry in the United States and Canada. The application consists of an essay of up to 1,500 words describing any one of the following scenarios:

  1. A patient based case-study that the student encountered as part of their clinical learning experience.
  2. A research based case scenario that the student has encountered during their clinical or didactic learning experience.
  3. A professional ethics based scenario that the student has encountered during their clinical or didactic learning.

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ASCO and the Ethics Educators SIG are pleased to announce Ryan Yuan as the winner of the 2020 Student Award in Clinical Ethics. This annual national award provides the winner with a $1,000 award check and an acrylic engraved plaque.

Dr. Yuan is a recent 2020 graduate of the Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University. His winning essay, “Ethics of Ocular Pain Management,” will also be featured in ASCO’s Journal, Optometric Education.

Dr. Yuan was sent his award and was virtually acknowledged during his graduation ceremony.

Drs Scharre and Mothersbaugh will be acknowledged during ASCO’s virtual Annual Business Meeting on June 24, 2020. ASCO’s Annual Meeting is open to all who wish to attend. Register for the meeting at http://www.cvent.com/d/cnql2w. Registrants will receive a link to attend the meeting soon after.

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We are living in difficult times.  The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) champions our core values of Leadership, Innovation, Inclusion and Integrity. We embrace diversity of opinions, perspectives, and backgrounds. As health care professionals and educators, we abhor bigotry of any kind, and we are appalled by the blatant racism in our society and violence in our communities. We experience the grief of loss, through the COVID-19 pandemic and through the violence of recent events, and witness that our loss is disproportionately affecting minorities and our colleagues, friends, and family of color.

We need to carry the banner for fundamental change in our society so that people of all backgrounds and experiences, especially persons of color, know in their hearts that we value their contributions, respect their dignity, and ensure that they can count on equal treatment under the law. We believe it is important to witness and confront current events, to speak the names of the victims. In our various communities, we must act to ensure that the senseless killing of George Floyd and many others before him, will be a catalyst to a just and equitable society.

ASCO, in partnership with the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) and the National Optometric Association, organized an attendance-breaking workshop on diversity in optometric education in concert with the 2020 AAO At Home Conference. Our national public education campaign Optometry Gives Me Life showcases diverse, exceptional professionals as exemplars to prospective students about how a life in optometry can be fulfilling for everyone. We need to do more. We will do more. But today we mourn our loss of communal dignity and commit to a better, more diverse, equitable, and inclusive future.

 

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COVID-19 Statement for Current and Prospective Applicants

posted 6/24/2020

All of our schools and colleges of optometry continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation. Each institution continues to follow their state’s recommendations and individual protocols regarding this threat.

Current Updates

OAT Exam

The OAT exam is considered an essential testing program by Prometric. Candidates should be prepared for longer-than-normal wait times for testing appointments. However, it should also be noted that Prometric continues to release new, open seats. For the week of June 16, 2020, for example, Prometric has enabled thousands of additional appointments in markets in the US. New appointment hours are opening daily. Please continue to check frequently if you are looking to schedule a testing appointment; all appointments will book on a first come, first serve basis.

Important information is listed below:

General Prometric Information:  www.prometric.com/corona-virus-update
Open Prometric Sites:  www.prometric.com/site-openings

To schedule or reschedule the OAT exam:  https://www.prometric.com/test-takers/search/oat

For the most up-to-date information on the OAT:  https://www.ada.org/en/oat

OptomCAS

Application Cycle 2020-2021 – OPENS JUNE 30, 2020
Launch Date:  The 2020-2021 OptomCAS application cycle will launch as planned on June 30, 2020.

COVID-19 Related Questions:  The following COVID-19 related questions will be part of the OptomCAS application.

  • Did your institution move to offering only an online curriculum during the COVID-19 crisis? If yes, what classes/labs were affected? Please include what semesters.
  • Did you have an opportunity to receive a letter grade for any of your courses taken during the COVID-19 crisis?  If yes, please include courses.
  • How has the COVID-19 crisis impacted your pathway to optometry school through your academic, professional and personal life? How have you responded to these changes?

COVID-19 Admissions Updates from the Schools and Colleges of Optometry
(virtual interviews, OAT and other standardized exams, online courses and pass/fail grades)

Our schools and colleges of optometry are currently working on their admissions processes to accommodate applicants who have been impacted by COVID-19. For up-to-date admissions information for each of our schools and colleges of optometry, please click here. If you have other questions, please contact the institutions directly.

We will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.

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