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How The OWA Has Benefited These Clinicians


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What are the benefits for opticians and ODs who join the OWA? OWA members, Jennifer Stewart, OD and Judy Quinones, LDO, ABOC-AC, NCLE, share their insights and experiences below.


Through The Eyes Of An OD


When I think about my time in the OWA - I can’t honestly remember what it was like before joining.  I’ve thought about how I found about the OWA- was it an email blast?  A social media mention?  Did I come across the website and think- well, why not?

 

However it was that I found out about the OWA, joining has been one of the very best choices I have made for my career.


We are bombarded by so many invitations from social media groups, industry groups, local, and our state and national associations. It can often be difficult to prioritize and decide how to spend our precious time outside of the office, and which groups are worth joining and for what reasons.


I was initially attracted to the OWA because it was not ONLY optometrists. Being part of a group of women in the industry, who aren’t necessarily OD’s, has been incredibly refreshing and gives me a different perspective on the industry itself and the companies I work with. 

Often our only experience with vendors is the local rep, but we don’t have access to the marketing teams, product development teams or even the executives- all of whom end up on our OWA committees and calls! It is so amazing for me to hear how passionate they are about supporting OD’s and opticians, and the whole industry, and I have learned so much from them about how much time, effort and care goes into their work.


Networking has also been a huge benefit of joining the OWA, especially in a time when there weren’t a lot of in person events.  I try to attend every virtual event, and have made some unbelievable connections and deep friendships with people who I know I would have not crossed paths with otherwise. 


Professionally, this has led to some incredible consulting, speaking and industry opportunities which I am so thankful for.  I’ve also had the opportunity to connect women through the OWA and love seeing friendships, job opportunities and professional relationships develop.


The OWA also provides continuous resources for personal development and leadership, two other areas that I love to focus and work on. As an OD, most of our education is clinically focused, and it is rare to find information about topics like becoming a better leader. Being able to learn from industry executives and be inspired by how they lead their teams has certainly impacted me both personally and professionally. I am incredibly proud of how I have grown as a leader, and was even awarded the prestigious Emerging Leader Award by the OWA in 2022, which was a career highlight for sure!


Lastly, the friendships I have made have been so important. Optometrists are often isolated in our practices, and only get to know our local OD’s and reps. I have made friends from so many other companies, states and even countries, and so look forward to Fireside Chats and in person events to catch up with them. I love our virtual calls where people are honest and open, and I love seeing the women on the call come together to support them. Many of these calls have brought me to tears, both while hearing women share their struggles, and then seeing everyone being so supportive.


My favorite part?  The role and company we each work for is just a part of who we are - it doesn’t define us or limit the way we collaborate and share. The OWA is truly a place to meet, grow, learn, be inspired and inspire others. 


I always joke that I am on a one-woman crusade to increase the number of female optometrists who are members of the OWA.  Being part of a group that supports the whole eyecare industry (including, but not limited to OD’s) has been so eye-opening (pun intended!) to me. I have learned the passion that each person brings to their role, job and company, and how many people are out there, united in their desire to help us be successful.


I truly believe that if more optometrists were part of the OWA, we would have such a deeper appreciation and understanding of the industry as a whole, and feel even more supported.  If you have considered joining- now is the time!



Through The Eyes Of An Optician


I joined the OWA when I was a new optician and looking to make connections. While I thought I’d simply be connecting with a few fellow opticians, I soon realized that I had tapped in to a diverse group of women who hold various roles within the industry.


From the moment I joined, I felt welcomed and supported, quickly finding myself involved in both co-leading the OWA Membership Subcommittee for optometrists and opticians, as well as contributing to the Connection and Enrichment committee. With these committees, I’m doing two of the things I love the most: connecting with others and sharing the benefits of this incredible community with new and prospective members.


But my experience with the OWA goes beyond just finding my place on the committees; it’s about the tangible benefits the OWA offers opticians at every stage of our careers. From networking opportunities and mentorship programs, to workshops and webinars, the OWA provides us with a wealth of resources designed to help us excel in our profession.


One of the highlights of my experience with the OWA is the vibrant platform it provides for us to connect with peers, industry leaders, and influencers. Through a variety of events, conferences, and online forums, we exchange ideas, share insights, and cultivate meaningful relationships. As opticians, our direct contact with patients affords us unique perspectives that enrich these discussions and contribute to the better understanding of the role we play in the industry.


Furthermore, knowing the value of guidance and support, especially early in our careers, OWA members are connected with seasoned professionals who eagerly offer mentorship. They provide invaluable insights and advice tailored to our needs, whether it’s navigating career trajectories, fostering work-life balance, or any number of other subjects.


Our voices matter in shaping the future of the optical industry, and as OWA members, we have a platform to advocate for our profession. By actively participating in committees, advocacy efforts, and leadership roles, we amplify our collective voice.


Ready to join a dynamic network of support and growth? Empowerment and community are at the heart of the OWA. Joining the OWA isn’t just about professional benefits; it’s about becoming part of a community that inspires and empowers us to excel in our careers and shape the future of our profession.


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