This year I had the chance to attend Academy 2019 in Orlando, Florida and it was a wonderful experience. While I’m writing this article a tad late, I do hope that it will inspire both students and OD’s to attend the conference in 2020.

Why I Loved Academy 2019

In case you missed it, here is a quick recap of the amazing things that Academy 2019 had to offer.

All the CE Variety: One of my favorite things about the Academy meetings, in general, is the variety of continuing education courses that are offered. From Mistakes to Avoid in Glaucoma by Dr. Joseph Sowka to What Optometrists Should Know About Human Trafficking in the United States by Dr. Lillian Kalaczinski there was something for everyone.

Posters: Whether you’re a student presenting your very first bit of research or a seasoned OD, posters give you a chance to present your hard work, and its outcome, to others. As someone who is currently concluding research for school, I know how arduous the process can be, so having a chance to present the information to your peers without the pressures of a lecture is appreciated. On the “curious observer” side of things, posters also allow you to see what others are working towards and to learn about the latest in optometric research.

Pet Therapy: This year, there were puppies in the exhibit hall curtesy of The Pixel Fund. Among so much amazing learning and so many things optometry, playing with cute doggies was a great way to take a minute and unwind.

Networking and Learning: This academy was a particularly busy time for me because I got the opportunity to shadow, and learn from, Dr. Jennifer Palombi. This opportunity allowed me to connect individuals within the optometry profession that I would never have otherwise had a chance to meet.

The Exhibit Hall: I absolutely loved hanging out in the exhibit hall and checking out all of the vendors and new companies. If I’m being honest, I probably spent a bit too much time browsing, though I have no regrets.

The Third World Congress of Optometry: This year, Academy coincided with the Third World Congress of Optometry. This allowed me to meet optometrists from other countries and to find out more about my profession outside the United States.

Unexpected Rewards: While perusing the exhibit hall, I had signed up for a drawing to win free tuition to the Dry Eye Institute with Dr. Crystal Brimer. A few weeks later I was delighted to receive an email informing me that I was invited to attend the Dry Eye Institute as one of the drawing winners.

Why I Cannot Wait for Academy 2020

The year 2020 is already hailed as the ‘Year of the Optometrist’ and I’m sure that the American Academy of Optometry is going to work to make their 2020 meeting memorable. Some things I’m super excited about are:

Going to CE’s as an OD: I’ll be graduating in June 2020 so I’ll be attending as an OD and not as a student.

Special Events: I’m not sure that a special event will be offered to celebrate 2020, but I’m definitely hopeful. I’m also hoping for more puppies!

The Music: Nashville is known for producing music, so I’m definitely excited to see what this city has to offer.

Seeing Friends: Academy is a time for learning, but it’s also a great opportunity to see people who may be living in a different state. I’m definitely hoping to see some of my friends and acquaintances from the optometric community.

Whether you’re a student or a practicing OD, I definitely hope that you’ll be inspired to attend Academy 2020. For students who are worried about finances, there are a few scholarships available and the Academy website is a great place to start. See you in Nashville!