Dr. Michelle Welch Submitted Photo

Dr. Michelle Welch receiving her award from Dr. Reynolds during the June conference.

Choctaw Nation Optometrist Receives Distinguished Service Award

June 14, 2021

DURANT, Okla. – Dr. Regan Michelle Welch, an optometrist in the Choctaw Nation Idabel Health Clinic, has won the prestigious Distinguished Service Award from the American Optometric Association (AOA). Dr. Welch was nominated by the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians (OAOP) for her local concern and national impact and competed with submissions from across the country.
“I’ve never met anyone as giving as she is. She sets a tremendous example, whether it’s in the clinic, the classroom, for everybody,” says Nathan Lighthizer, OD, Associate Dean, Oklahoma College of Optometry. “Community has been at the heart of Dr. Welch’s work.”
Each year, the award is given to an optometrist who has impacted not only the patients treated but the community and profession itself. Dr. Welch joined the Choctaw Nation in 2014. Before joining the Choctaw Nation team, she held several roles at the Northeastern State University College of Optometry. She has also served as president of the OAOP and on several committees with the Cherokee Nation. In addition to taking care of her patients, Dr. Welch shares her knowledge as a teacher nationally by providing continuing medical education courses to help elevate their work and advance the profession.
“Leading us … was awe-inspiring, and the profession of optometry today would not be where it is without her,” says Selina McGee, OD, Past President OAOP of Dr. Michelle Welch.
“When I see patients, I want them to know that they’re not just a chart, or a number, or even a pair of eyeballs. These are people in my community, my friends, and family. I love that I can make such an immediate and positive impact in their lives by improving their visual health – sometimes dramatically,” says Dr. Welch of her passion for her practice.
“Dr. Welch is so deserving of this award. She is an amazing asset to our team. It’s remarkable to see her continue to help her colleagues across the nation and move the optometry profession forward,” says Dr. Ben Thompson, OD, Global Optometry Manager for Choctaw Nation Health Services Authority.