Local wins Optometrist of the Year

Dr. Randall Hoch stands with some of his staff after winning the Montana Optometric Association Optometrist of the Year in Billings’ GreenTree on May 5. From left to right, Dr. Randall Hoch, Stacy Lund, Yavanna Allen, Janice Kolar, Barb Wohlk, Susan McConkey, Carmen Besel, Terri Greene and Dr. Jason Ricks.

Photo courtesy of Eyecare Associates of Lewistown

By: 
JENNY GESSAMAN
Reporter

If any Lewistown local had wandered into Billing’s DoubleTree on the evening of May 5, they would’ve had no trouble at all spotting Dr. Randall Hoch. He was at the front of room, receiving the 2017 Optometrist of the Year award.

Hoch is an optometrist and co-owner at Eyecare Associates of Lewistown, and his award from the Montana Optometric Association is meant to highlight an association member with an extraordinary service record, according to MOA Administrative Assistant Mary Martinez.

“It’s basically [recognizing] service to optometry, including contributions of personal effort and time, and anything advancing the profession,” she said.

Martinez explained the award considered four categories: public service, service to the public’s visual welfare, service to optometry and service to MOA or its national counterpart, the American Optometric Association.

Dr. Jason Ricks, Hoch’s partner and outgoing MOA president, highlighted Hoch’s service accomplishments in the award presentation’s introductory speech.

Hoch serves Central Montana as a Kiwanis member, and for years worked to organize the Kiwanis Road Show, which brings a professional theater crew to perform in Central Montana each year. Ricks noted Hoch’s service to public visual welfare was quite literally an investment: together with his partner, Hoch has contributed more than $26,000 to Optometry Giving Sight, a worldwide optometric service organization.

Rick’s speech credited Hoch with a long history of service to MOA that also served the field of optometry: Hock has served on the MOA Board of Directors for several years, including a term as president in 2004. He has also served on the Association’s legislative committee, and in 2011 was appointed by Governor Brian Schweitzer to the Montana Board of Optometry, a position he still holds today.

Hoch confirmed he values service in his optometry career.

“I’ve always been involved in MOA in one form or another,” he said. “I always try to encourage younger doctors to become involved with the MOA because it’s an important way to regulate our profession.”

While he values investing his time and efforts, he had no idea how much others valued his investments, too. In fact, the award was a complete surprise.

“I was shocked,” he said. “I was very appreciative, but I was shocked.”

All but three of Hoch’s staff made it to the award presentation, although it did take a minute for Hoch to recognize what was happening.

“The staff snuck in and watched the presentation,” he said. “It was part way through when I realized it was about me.”

Although it was a surprise to Hoch, he appreciates his new title.

“It really is gratifying to be recognized for my work,” he said.

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