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Published on October 20, 2017

Gundersen Whitehall optometrist named 'Young OD' of the year

Gundersen Health System optometrist Ashley Finch, OD, was presented with the Wisconsin Optometric Association (WOA) Young Optometrist of the Year Award recently at the 2017 WOA Conference and Annual Meeting in Wisconsin Dells.

The award is presented annually to one outstanding eye doctor who has been in practice less than 10 years, and has shown leadership in the areas of service to the field of optometry, service to the vision and eye health welfare of the public and who has demonstrated a commitment to the community.

In 2015, Dr. Finch started her career at the Gundersen Whitehall Eye Clinic. She also sees Ashley Furniture employees, and eligible family members, at Ashley Wellness Center Eye Clinic in Arcadia.

"I first had the pleasure to witness Dr. Finch's passion and drive for optometry serving as her preceptor while completing her clinic rotation at the Illinois College of Optometry. It was clear she not only possessed exceptional clinical abilities but the complete package of great communication skills with care and compassion for her patients," says Andrew Nahas, OD, section chairman, Gundersen Health System Regional Optometry, who nominated Dr. Finch for the award.

While she has only been in practice for two years, Dr. Finch has already shown remarkable leadership in the field of optometry. In her first year with the WOA, she volunteered as a member of the WOA New OD Committee, featuring articles in the WOA Next newsletter. She was co-organizer for the 2016 WOA Convention "New Member Orientation" meet and greet, helping foster student and young OD relationships. In early 2017, Dr. Finch co-hosted the first Facebook live event regarding Wisconsin optometric licensing. This interactive format was a huge success and allowed young ODs, new graduates and students to submit their questions and receive immediate feedback.

When the call to duty came, Dr. Finch signed up to attend "Legislative Day" and helped flood the Capitol requesting legislatures to remove the proposal to eliminate the Optometry Examining Board.

Her service to the public and welfare are no exception. In early 2017, Dr. Finch volunteered on a Global Parnters mission trip to Nicaragua, caring for the vision needs of hundreds of underprivledged patients. She remains active with the Illinois College of Optometry mentorship program and is available for job shadowing opportunities among local schools. She also serves as a Rotary After Hours - La Crosse board member and enjoys giving back to the community.

"Although Dr. Finch has only been in practice a short time, she takes humble pride in knowing she has made a difference both in her community and profession. She is most deserving of this honor," says Dr. Nahas.

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