In light of the creation of several new optometry schools across the country, Optometric Management recently interviewed Elizabeth Hoppe, O.D., M.P.H., DnP.H., founding dean of Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry, located m Pomona, Calif.

Aside from Western University, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Midwestern University in Glendale, Ariz., and the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas have all jumped into the new optometry-school ring. This begs the question, why?

Several optometrists have voiced concern over the establishment of these new schools, as many believe the United States is already suffering from an oversupply of optometrists and that the establishment of new optometry schools will exacerbate the problem. Dr. Hoppe disagrees.

"One of our ultimate goals is to produce caring, compassionate and competent graduates whom practicing optometrists will want to bring into their practices as associates, or to whom our retiring colleagues will want to sell their practices. We believe that the perpetuation of private practice is an important goal that serves the public and the profession," she says.

"Ensuring the supply of well qualified new graduates ultimately helps maintain the practice value of our colleagues. In addition, Westem University conducted research that showed a genuine need for a school of optometry. This research revealed that an increased demand for eye care is expected due to the aging adult population; the aging of the current optometric workforce and; state-enacted legislation requiring eye care for children; among other reasons."

Western University has submitted its initial application for accreditation by the Accrediting Council on Optometric Education (ACOE).