Optometrists should get involved in national politics, says OD RNC speaker


After speaking at last week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, New Mexico OD Lisa Shin says more optometrists should get involved on a national level to keep optometry’s agenda at the forefront.

After speaking at last week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, New Mexico OD Lisa Shin says more optometrists should get involved on a national level to keep optometry’s agenda at the forefront.

Watch Dr. Shin’s speech HERE.

“Optometrists who are in leadership should consider being national delegates for their states at least once,” she says.

Dr. Shin served as a national delegate for New Mexico and spoke as a representative for Korean Americans.

She says that taking part in national politics provides access to leaders and insight into politics you wouldn’t otherwise attain.

“There’s a lot of inside information that could be very valuable to optometry in legislative efforts,” Dr. Shin says. “There’s insight that we can gain by going to these conventions because you’re with the leaders of the party nationwide.”

The fact that optometry is a legislated profession is even more reason for ODs to get involved, according to Dr. Shin.

“Because we are a legislated profession,” she says, “we have to work with our leaders. We have to reason with them, present our case, earn their respect. When they realize this person is knowledgeable and serves their community with excellence, that speaks a lot. Maybe a legislator will say, ‘I may consider that glaucoma bill.’”


Case in point: Dr. Shin discussed with Massachusetts leaders the fact that ODs in the state are the only ones unable to treat glaucoma.

“To have that kind of conversation with the rep from Massachusetts, that adds a lot of credibility to what we’re trying to do,” she says.

Dr. Shin says she thinks her appearance on the national political stage is a good thing for optometry.

“I made it clear that I’m an optometrist and a business owner,” she says. “Now everyone knows that I care and that I’m in tune with what’s going on.”

Hello from the outside

Before the convention, Dr. Shin says she was viewed with an outsider perspective. She says that speaking at the convention has opened doors and given her more credibility with state and national leaders.

“One thing that I’ve noticed is having access to our leaders can be very difficult,” she says. “I wrote to our governor about an issue, and it took five months for her to get back to me. It’s difficult to have your voice heard. I felt speaking at the convention opened up a lot of doors in terms of access.”


Her RNC experience

Dr. Shin was elected on May 21 as a national delegate for New Mexico. She says it was quite an honor because she is not well known in her statewide party.

Then, about a week before the Republication National Convention, she got the call. She was asked to represent Korean Americans with a 300-word speech lasting three minutes.

“I was in shock,” she says, “and I couldn’t pass up such an opportunity.”

Dr. Shin wrote her speech herself. The RNC speechwriting team had a few edits, but the speech she delivered was largely the speech she wrote, which included issues she’s been thinking about for some time, she says.

She spoke with the aid of a teleprompter, which was a new experience for her. A rehearsal simulates the real-life situation, and a speech coaching team offers advice. Professional hair and makeup artists were on hand as well.

“They told me not to wear white and to wear something in a solid color,” she says. “I had on long earrings, and they told me not to wear them.”

She says she was really happy with the way she delivered her speech.

“I was really scared that I might stumble or fumble or get off script,” she says. “When you get on stage, people are overcome with stage fright. But I was energized by the crowd.”


Dr. Shin spoke on Thursday night, the last night of the convention, and the timing caused both anticipation and dread.

“I thought speaking on Monday would have been great so I could have enjoyed the convention,” she says. “I had a lot of anxiety building up watching the other speakers. I felt really stressed. In a way, I couldn’t really enjoy the convention. There were events I could not attend because I had to rehearse or I wasn’t up to it. But it was an honor because I got my message out to a wider audience being on Thursday than Monday. In terms of who you are talking to, it was prime to have it on Thursday.”

She says her one disappointment was that she didn’t get to meet Republican nominee Donald Trump.

“I was so exhausted after a week of no sleep and being anxious that after my speech I just crashed. I couldn’t go to any of the post-convention parties,” she says.

Looking ahead

Dr. Shin holds no political office. She says that she has considered running for local office, but she’s not ready yet.

“Right now I’m anxious to get back to my life,” she says. “I need to take care of things at home first.”

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