Is Optometry on the Same Path as the Legal

Is Optometry on the Same Path as the
Legal Profession?
Charles F. Mullen
Despite Oversupply of Practitioners
Law Schools
 Opened 19 New Law Schools Since 2000 with More
Planned and Increased Enrollments at Existing Schools
Optometry Schools and Colleges
 Opened 7 New Optometry Schools Since 2008 with
More Planned and Increased Enrollments at Existing
Consequences of Increased Supply
Law Schools
 Underemployment and Unemployment of Graduates
• 45% of Graduates Unable to Find Full Time Positions
 A Serious Decline in Number of Student Applicants
• Down 37% from 2010
 Less Qualified Students Being Admitted
 Even Prestigious Law Schools Find it Necessary to
Employ Up to 17% of Their Graduates
Consequences of Increased Supply
Optometry Schools and Colleges
 Increased Annual Graduates from 1127 in 1997 (Supply
Equaled Demand) to Over 1800 at Full Enrollment
 Only 1.4 Applicants per Entering Seat
 40% of Recent Graduates Practice at Two or More Part
Time Locations
 Optometrists Practice at Only 68% of Capacity
Conflicting Manpower Data
Rand-1995, Abt-2000 and Lewin-2014 All Indicated
Significant Surpluses of Optometrists
Lewin Study Indicated a Current 12,672 FTE Excess of
Bureau of Labor Statistics Projects High Demand for
Optometrists (24% Increase)
Encouraging New Optometry Schools
Validity of Source Data and Assumptions?
Concerns About Assumptions in Manpower Studies
Will Expanding the Scope of Practice Absorb the
Excess of Optometrists ?
What Treatment Capabilities Will Be Added?
It Took 43 Years, Significant Resources and Political
Capital to the Reach Current Level Of Practice
Will the Aging Population Significantly Increase
Demand for Optometric Services?
Some Say the Decline in Applicants is Just a Normal
Cyclical Downturn and Not Permanent?
Proactively Address the Oversupply of
Reduce Enrollments at All Schools and Colleges of
Adjust Revenue and Expense Projections
External Agencies
Demand Correction of Bureau of Labor Statistics
Insist the ACOE Develop Quantitative Accreditation
Standards Similar to Medicine and Dentistry
Ability to Provide the Quantity and Diversity of Clinical
Training Encounters Must be Demonstrated
Curricula Measures
Make An Optometry Career More Attractive and
Control Debt by Shortening the Length of Education
for O.D. Degree and Board Certification
Thus Developing a Clinical Training Model to
Potentially Qualify for GME
Explore Alternative Strategies
Mergers with Other Optometry Colleges
Expand Educational Offerings to High Demand Health
Care Providers
Innovative Programs with Health Sciences Centers or
Public Health Approach to Oversupply
Increase Demand for Optometric Services by
Addressing Need for Eye Care in Inner-City and Rural
Only 20% of FQ Community Health Centers Offer
Optometric Services
Estimated 5,000 FTE Optometrists Needed
Inclusion of Optometry in Federal Incentive Programs:
Loan Forgiveness, Scholarships, NHSC and Practice
Start-Up Support is Essential
Primary References