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41 Years Later, the Nation's Oldest Optometry Study Group Stays Strong

Posted On: 06/14/2017

The group was founded in 1976 by Craig Hughes, OD, '70, with ten members who focused on contact lenses. This was before soft lenses were being fitted and long before optometrists in Texas were treating pathology. After about a year, Jerry Jacobs, OD, '65, was asked to lead the group and has been in that position for 40 years.

Today, the group has 16 members (13 optometrists and three ophthalmologists) and about six others who are regular visitors. Some members have retired and have been replaced. They have a common interest in sharing information on ocular pathology, office management, networking, legislation involving optometry, reviewing and discussing interesting optometric lectures and articles, etc.

They meet the last Tuesday of the month at Dr. Jacobs' home to have dinner and visit for an hour. Many meetings are sponsored by industry partners who are given about 20 minutes to inform the group about their services or products.

At each meeting, a wide range of topics are discussed; from rising cost of ocular medications to childhood myopia and prevention. At least three members give a 15-20 minute Power Point presentation on a topic or interesting case. During the last meeting, an oculoplastic specialist shared a presentation on interesting basal cell cases. Dr. Ken Kravacic, who writes articles for the Review of Optometric Business, shared a review of an article he recently published on ways to improve income in the office, related to contact lenses. During the round robin discussion, members bring interesting cases to present to the group, and members share any information that might be helpful.

Dr. Jacobs says there are important keys to having a successful study group: 

  • First, getting the right members. They must be compatible, knowledgeable, and willing to share information. 
  • Second, they need to be dedicated to attending meetings unless a conflict prevents attending. While the North Texas Study Group has had a combination of highly successful officers; past TOA presidents (4), TOA Optometrists of the Year (3), national optometric speakers, and a member of the Texas Optometry Board, their dedication is more important than the credentials. 
  • Thirdly, you need a leader who will plan the meetings and conduct the meetings allowing time for all to share their thoughts or information and still keep the meeting moving at a comfortable pace.

Although there are often differing opinions, the group fosters a close community. Every year the friends have a holiday party with significant others and guests.

If anyone has questions about the North Texas Study Group or want to develop one, contact Dr. Jerry Jacobs at jj02@airmail.net.