ATLANTA—What an honor, privilege and feeling of real responsibility it is to be assuming the position of president of the Southern Council of Optometrists

SECO has been a leader in continuing education for 90+ years, so part of what I want to accomplish is to make sure we maintain that position in a world that’s ever changing. There are more and more regulations. The government puts itself in between our industry partners and the docs all the time, so part of our job is to adjust to the new technologies that are out there in terms of how docs communicate. My goal is to make sure that SECO maintains its position as a leader in optometric education in an environment where a lot of the old rules don’t apply anymore.

Companies either go away or consolidate, so there is also changing leadership among our industry partners. You can’t just do the same thing every year because it’s not the same.

This year, we started rolling out our new SECO University. SECO is not just a meeting in February or March, but it’s a year-round experience. Every course we do is recorded, and the special sessions are also video recorded. If you go to SECO University, you could pull up a special session from last year and watch it again. You can watch it two or three times if you want to. Or you could download one of the audios from one of the courses into your device and listen to it as you drive back and forth to the office. Some of it is COPE-approved and some of it is just for your own edification.

Obviously, we all need continuing education for our license, but SECO has always been much more than that. I think the docs who come to SECO are looking for more than just getting their ticket punched for their CE license.

When I first moved into a leadership position with SECO, I was told a number of times that we educate not legislate. We leave this role to the AOA, who can provide political advocacy for the profession. However, I do feel that SECO is an important advocate for our profession. The quality and type of education SECO offers doctors has been an integral part in moving our profession forward.

I would say at least 80 percent of the things I do in the office today did not exist when I graduated from Southern College of Optometry. This includes diagnostic testing, pharmaceuticals I prescribe, and a wide range of frame, spectacle lens and contact lens technologies, all of which I learned about after graduation through continuing education programs like SECO’s.

One of the things I am most proud of is the great diversity of topics we make available to our attendees. At SECO 2015, we had 266 different courses for our doctors and Allied Ophthalmic Professionals. Some of the courses may have several hundred in attendance and others may have only 15 to 20, and that is okay. That is part of our mission, to offer topics eyecare professionals may not be able to access at other meetings. SECO helps make this profession the best it can be by providing world-class continuing education.

In Optometry’s Marketplace, attendees are able to interact with our industry partners. The exhibit hall has always been one of the very important parts of this meeting. We are grateful for our industry partners for being a part of what we do here and for supporting our profession.

For me, the fellowship or team building is a very important part of SECO. When you come to a SECO meeting, you can network with colleagues from literally all over the U.S. and numerous foreign countries.

SECO is a meeting put on by optometrists for optometrists. If it were not for the tireless work of our optometric volunteers, this meeting would not be possible.

So, my mission, my passion and that of the docs who have served before me is to ensure in this ever-changing world that SECO maintains its position as a leader in providing optometric education, to do whatever it takes. I am very excited to serve as SECO president for the next year.

For more on SECO 2015, see“SECO 2015 Hosts 7,000 ECPs, Presents Awards and Installs Officers at 92nd Annual Meeting,” and to see a slideshow of some of the optical industry leaders in attendance at the annual conference, see “Thousands Attend SECO 2015, the 92nd Annual Meeting for ECPs in Atlanta.”

Stan Dickerson, OD, was elected president of the Southern Council of Optometrists during the organization’s House of Delegates meeting at the most recent annual event, SECO 2015, held in Atlanta, March 4 to 8, 2015. A graduate of the Southern College of Optometry, he is an optometrist practicing in Columbia, Tenn., with Dickerson Eye Care Center for 38 years.