Review of Optometry
John Murphy, Senior Editor
Whether or not we need more schools, these new ones are working hard to develop top-notch graduates who will hit the ground running.
“”Do we need more optometry schools?”” asked then-president of the American Optometric Association Kevin Alexander, O.D., Ph.D., in 2007. “”Based on what we actually do know about the numbers of optometrists today and what it costs to start a new school, the answer is ‘probably not.'””
Then again, Dr. Alexander wrote, given that future demand for eye and vision services will increase, do we need more optometrists? “”The answer is ‘possibly’-if the current trend continues.”” Even if we do need more O.D.s, he wrote, the existing schools and colleges of optometry could expand without the need to open new ones.
That said, three new colleges of optometry opened their doors in September, and they already appear to be flourishing. Each is different, but they have a few common features that they bring to optometric education:
- Optometry students take classes with students from other professional health care disciplines.
- Colleges stress outreach to provide eye care services to the local community (with an emphasis on Spanish-speaking patients).
- Curricula emphasize early hands-on clinical care integrated with didactic course work.
Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry is located in Pomona, Calif., less than 20 miles away from Southern California College of Optometry.
Facts and figures
The inaugural class includes 78 students; 56 of them (72%) are women. Faculty currently includes three O.D.s as chief administrators, 10 faculty instructors in the college of optometry, as well as two other faculty members jointly appointed from…