The Minnesota Optometric Association: A Place to Belong
Almost half of the working licensed ODs in Minnesota are members of the Minnesota Optometric Association (MOA). But what about the rest?
Beth Coleman, MOA executive director is working with her board of directors on targeted marketing efforts, outreach and creating a place to belong. “After our board retreat last summer, it was decided there were several groups we needed to target,” she said. “Based on what we know about the changing demographics in the profession, women in optometry, young ODs, and large OD group practices where all ODs aren’t members made the most sense.”
Since then, the MOA has been targeting these audiences at various times and in several ways.
Women in Optometry
“First, we decided that with what we knew and the changing demographics of women in optometry, it’s crucial that we work with them and make sure MOA women OD members are engaged and willing to become part of our leadership group. Secondly, we want to grow membership with this group,” Coleman said. To get started, an MOA past president, Marlane(Laney) Brown, O.D., organized a group of women ODs to discuss how the MOA could better engage women ODs in the state and within the profession
At the initial meeting, there were about 10 women ODs from various age groups and practice types, made up of both MOA members and non-members. Since then, the group has been named “Networking Optometric Women” (N.O.W.) and meets bi-monthly. It was decided that each meeting would have a different purpose, be it a social event, community service or education.
Coleman continued, “We know that sometimes women ODs flow in and out of membership due to what’s going on in their personal and professional lives. And we know we need more women OD members. Therefore, we want to keep them involved and informed about the MOA, and use our women’s group as a recruitment tool.”
Each time there is a N.O.W. meeting, members of the group are encouraged to bring another woman OD as a guest. “It’s a great group that is very involved and excited about this new activity for our women ODs,” Coleman said.
The second target group that came out of the MOA’s strategic planning session was young ODs and the need to engage and keep them as active members through their ascending years and beyond.
“They're our largest growing group and with more ODs retiring, obviously it's imperative that all associations know how to get them in and keep them involved,” Coleman said. The MOA has two of its young O.Ds, Lauren Haverly, O.D., and Molly McDonald, O.D., heading up the MOA’s young OD group.
“They find great places that are fun and in areas that the younger ODs like to hang out, mainly in the metro area right now. We then set up drinks and food and have speakers so they can also learn about new products and tools to help them grow their business.”
The MOA knows the power of networking so it also invites some of its leadership to these meetings so the younger ODs can connect with them. “We also make sure we have some interactive time at these meetings to find out what the needs of these younger ODs are and see how we can help them. We invite members and non-members, as the only way we are going to get information is if we ask,” Coleman continued. And, so far, the MOA is off to a good start, signing up two newly licensed ODs at its first Young OD event.
Non-Members in Large OD Group Practices
The MOA’s strategy for winning over non-members in large OD group practices is three-fold. “First, we ask a senior or managing member OD in the group to meet with the others and discuss the benefits of being a member, and quite honestly, we also let them know about other large practices or groups where all the ODs are members,” Coleman said.
“Second, the MOA lets them know how it can help promote the practice and let the community know that all their ODs are members, adding another level of integrity, reliability and authority in the eyes of the public.”
“Third, the MOA sends leadership to talk to some of their ODs and discuss why it is important for a large, visible practice to be a part of the MOA and the AOA, as they benefit in a huge way from what we do. After all, the more ODs who are members within a large practice, the more ODs will be receiving benefits – from reimbursements and third party issues to staff training and development.”