by Samantha Del Campo, OD, New Grad Coordinator & Past National Student Liaison

At the start of each school year, your inbox may seem like a never ending compilation of advertisements and BOGO deals, but there may be one in particular… deep within your inbox…that may just hold the key to success for enhancing your local COVD chapter!

As a COVD Local Student Liaison, or active COVD Club member, you may have heard the words “Kaplan Program,” also known more formally as the Kaplan Estate Speakers Bureau. This is just one of the many awesome activities available for your school’s COVD Club to participate in! (Read Student Engagement Coordinator Jonathan Niavis’s top 5 reasons to join your school’s COVD Club)



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In memory of Dr. Walter Kaplan, FCOVD, this program means up to $250 is available each year for your school to help you bring in a speaker to enhance your knowledge in vision therapy! (This speaker is in addition to the Tour de Optometry speaking event!) Although we know some VT gurus exist as faculty at schools, COVD hopes you’ll invite in someone from private practice, preferably an FCOVD.

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How the heck do you find a doc to come speak at your meeting?! Well, if you can’t think of anyone off the top of your head … visit and select the “Locate a Doctor” link. COVD’s search tool will populate a list of local VT OD’s and their contact information. If you are unable to coordinate a time with a local doctor, consider hosting a club Skype event with the speaker instead!

Once you have a doctor, all you have left to do is plan your meeting! The money from this grant can be used for virtually anything that goes towards hosting the event, such as pizza & ice cream for the guests, maybe paying travel expenses for the speaker (if you choose one out of town), or a gift to the speaker… the options are endless!

When it’s all said and done, reimbursement is as easy as getting in touch with Kris at the COVD International Office. Ready to plan an event, but don’t know who your school’s Local Student Liaison is? Kris can help with that, too!

How did I take advantage of this opportunity? By the time I was in my fourth year of optometry school, I could tell you all about vision therapy, but I couldn’t tell you a single thing about coding and billing. Once I realized I wasn’t the only one who felt this way, I proposed the idea to my own school’s COVD Club. We took advantage of the Kaplan Program by asking a VT OD and a private practice OD to visit our campus to talk about this topic, all while enjoying dinner & desserts covered by the funds. We also got the speaker a gift card to show our appreciation!

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The Kaplan Program is a great way to encourage participation at your school and provides an excellent way to expand your VT knowledge & facilitate networking connections with doctors in the field. I hope this article helped demonstrate the simple steps needed to access these funds and gave you some ideas for planning your next COVD Club event!