Image of the Profession
- While the University of Chicago’s NORC surveys indicate optometry is considered a high prestige profession, the increased visibility of Retail Optometry is projecting an image different from potential applicants’ expectations of what it means to be a “doctor.”
- Association with the selling of eyeglasses: Is an optometrist a health care provider or a merchant?
- While the applicant pool has not increased in 10 years, less qualified matriculants have increased thereby diluting the quality of the optometric workforce.
- New schools of optometry exacerbate the situation of less qualified matriculants.
Income to Debt Ratio
- A high percentage of income is required to pay educational debt: 15% of income is the highest of all health care professions.
- Starting income is relativity low when loan payments are considered.
- Income growth accrues primarily to private practice owners. Retail optometrists’ and employed optometrists’ income remains effectively level throughout their careers.
- The magnitude of debt takes years to repay.
Oversupply of Optometrists
- Concern education is too long and too costly for return on investment?
- No Federal support for costly optometric clinical training.
- Paradoxical Evolution of Optometry.
- When scope of practice does increase additional education/clinical training is required.
- No profession-wide recognized Specialty Certification Boards. The public considers Board Certification as the “Gold Standard” for quality practitioners. See: Optometry Specialty Certification Boards Provide a Uniform Indicator of Advanced Knowledge and Skills.
The first step in solving any problem is to honestly identify the cause or causes. Once the causes are identified then the task of implementing corrective measures should commence.