AE July/August 2018 Vol 27 No 4 - 58

ASOA PROFESSIONAL // COE CORNER

A KEY STEP-
BECOMING A THOUGHT LEADER IN OPHTHALMIC ADMINISTRATION
Zachary M. Smith, MHSA, COE

J

ust over three years ago, as
an active duty Navy officer,
I deployed to Indonesia and
Timor Leste with Pacific
Partnership 2014, an annual
humanitarian exercise that
brings together thousands
of military personnel from nations
all across the Asia-Pacific region.
It was on this deployment that I
met Dr. Brice Nicholson and got
my introduction to the world of
ophthalmology.
About six months later, I left
active military service to become
the Chief Operating Officer and
Practice Administrator of Evergreen
Eye Center. Admittedly, I knew
very little about ophthalmology
at that time, having most recently
been the assistant administrator of a
military occupational health clinic.
However, a key feature of military
training is leadership development,
and for that reason the shareholders
of Evergreen had confidence that I
could successfully lead the practice.
Shortly before starting at Evergreen, one of the owners, Dr.
Robert Tester, made a comment
that has stuck in my mind in the
years since. He said, "We want
Evergreen to be a leader in our
industry, and part of that is having

58

AE // July/Aug 18

The skills learned and habits built as you
pursue COE certification also eventually
make you an expert in the field.
an administrator who is a thought
leader in the world of ophthalmic
administration." As I reflected
over and over on what it would
take to become a thought leader in
ophthalmic administration, one key
step emerged: becoming a Certified
Ophthalmic Executive.
THE PROCESS
With that in mind, when I attended my first ASOA annual meeting
in 2015, I looked for courses that
would help me build my knowledge
in the COE credential's various
areas of emphasis. Since I already
had some experience in finance,
operations, and IT systems, I tried
to focus on general ophthalmic
knowledge, human resources, and
legal/regulatory issues. I listened
carefully in the sessions I attended.
I took detailed notes and asked
follow-up questions.
In addition to regular attendance (and even now presenting)
at subsequent ASOA meetings,

I developed a habit of regularly
reading Administrative Eyecare
magazine, specifically looking for
articles I thought would help me
quickly expand my knowledge
base. I made a point of frequently checking various forums on
EyeMail, trying to glean information and know-how from
seasoned administrators. Perhaps
most importantly, I put forth the
effort to spend time in our three
clinics and ASC, interacting with
physicians, clinical staff members,
and patients.
THE PAYOFF
In late 2016, after two years at the
helm of Evergreen Eye Center, I
felt ready to take the COE exam.
I set up my test appointment and
then spent a number of weeks
reviewing the COE exam flash
cards and the ASOA Learning
Center. As most people are, I was
somewhat nervous as I took the
exam, perhaps most so in the few



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AE July/August 2018 Vol 27 No 4

AE July/August 2018 Vol 27 No 4 - Cover1
AE July/August 2018 Vol 27 No 4 - Cover2
AE July/August 2018 Vol 27 No 4 - 1
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AE July/August 2018 Vol 27 No 4 - Cover3
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