Young Optometrist of the Year

The Young Optometrist of the Year Award is presented to an optometrist who has been in practice less then 10 years and has shown leadership in the areas of service to optometry, service to the visual welfare of the public and who has demonstrated a commitment to public service. Nominations are submitted by WOA members which are then reviewed by an Awards Committee. The award is given to the doctor who best meets the criteria listed above. The WOA Young Optometrist of the Year is then nominated for the AOA Young Optometrist award the following year.

Dr. Ashley Finch
2017 Young Optometrist of the Year

Dr. Ashley Finch, a practicing optometrist at Gundersen Eye Clinic in Whitehall, WI, was presented with the Wisconsin Optometric Association (WOA) Young Optometrist of the Year Award on September 23, 2017 at the 117th WOA Convention and Annual Meeting held at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells, WI. This award is presented annually to one outstanding doctor that has been in practice for less than 10 years. The award recognizes the doctor’s exceptional service to optometry, dedication to the vision and eye health welfare of the public, and service to the community.

Dr. Finch has embarked on a great path of service to Optometry through her work with the WOA New OD Committee, which focuses on supporting young optometrists and students as they transition from the classroom to the clinic. In addition to writing feature articles for the WOA Next newsletter and co-organizing events tailored to meet the ever-changing needs of young optometrists, Dr. Finch teamed up with colleague Dr. Kelsey Koerner earlier this year to host the first WOA Facebook Live event regarding Wisconsin optometric licensing. This interactive format allowed the young doctors, new graduates and students to submit their questions and receive immediate feedback.  The Live streaming event was a huge success, with over 2800 views and dozens of "likes", and new platform for the WOA to disseminate important information to a younger generation.

As a means of fostering interest in optometry, Dr. Finch remains active with the Illinois College of Optometry mentorship program, as well as being available for job shadowing opportunities among local schools.  Every summer, she hosts students from the Whitehall elementary school summer program with a presentation and tour of her clinic.  Dr. Finch presents informative wellness spotlights to large businesses and can also be heard periodically on local WHTL radio.

While attending the Illinois College of Optometry Dr. Finch participated in two research projects utilizing Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), which has now become the standard of care for most doctors of optometry.

Dr. Finch’s service to the public has continued from student to practice. Dr. Finch was involved in the Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH) Puebla Mexico Mission trip in 2013. In early 2017, Dr. Finch volunteered on a weeklong mission trip to Nicaragua. Both trips provided the opportunity to care for hundreds of patients by aiding in diagnosis and management of untreated vision problems and the dispensing of glasses enabling patients of all ages to see clearly for the first time. Dr. Finch has been featured in the Gundersen Health and Wellness Magazine distributed in the tri-state region promoting eye health and awareness. She participates in community programs such as “Whitehall Woman’s Health Paint My Night Pink” in addition to supporting numerous other fundraisers as they arise. Lastly, Dr. Finch serves on the Rotary Club of LaCrosse After Hours- Board of Directors.

Dr. Finch has made a difference both in her community and profession. Members like her instill continued motivation and drive for our future and profession. The WOA is grateful to have Dr. Finch among its membership in Wisconsin.

Congratulations to Dr. Ashley Finch.

The WOA is proud to recognize those young optometrists who have been honored in previous years

2016 Kyle Ross, O.D.
2015 Corinne Beiersdorf Wicklund, O.D.
2014 Tessa Sokol, O.D.
2013 David Hammes, O.D.
2012 Brandon Begotka, O.D.
2011 Callie Enyart, O.D.
2010 Amber Dentz, O.D.
2009 Ryan Ames, O.D.
2008 Paul Filar, O.D.
2007 Ann Wonderling, O.D.
2006 Holly Fisher, O.D.
2005 Lisa Slaby, O.D.
2004 David May, O.D.
2003 Nancy Duquette, O.D.
2002 Kellye Knueppel, O.D.
2001 Jeff Byers, O.D.
2000 John Warren, O.D.
1999 Chap Leffingwell, O.D.
1998 David Larsen, O.D.
1997 Scott Jens, O.D.
1996 David W. Nelson, O.D.


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