December 2006

Volume 26 | Number 4

Special Theme: Optometry

Optometrists for the 21st Century
Hector C. Santiago, O.D., Ph.D., F.A.A.O.

Dr. Santiago’s essay provides an introduction for the theme of this issue: Optometry. He uses Howard Gardner’s concept of multiple intelligences to weave together the words of visionaries. Dr. Santiago emphasizes the importance of understanding changing demographics and intersperses quotes to remind us how immigrants have strengthened our nation. He concludes that nurturing “respectful and ethical minds” develops capacity for the appreciation of diversity, a commitment to community service, and empathic responses to patient needs. Development of these qualities allows “all students to become the servant leaders of society.”

State of Profession: U.S. eye, vision care market grew 6.5% since 2004
Tracy Overton

This article provides a synopsis of the report “State of the Profession: 2006,” published in the June issue ofOptometry: Journal of the American Optometric Association.

Trends in Student Enrollment and Applications
Enid-Mai Jones, M.A., M.Ed.
Patricia Coe O'Rourke, M.A.
Joanne Zuckerman, M.A.

The authors begin by pointing out that applications to optometry schools declined between 1998 and 2001. The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) subsequently launched a campaign to promote the profession. The trend toward fewer applications has reversed in recent years, although the numbers are still lower than in 1998-1999, and applications from groups underrepresented in the profession have not increased. The article contains easy to read tables which show not only changes in the applicant pool and enrollment, but also break down the data to provide a demographic view of those entering optometry schools.

Diversity in Optometric Education
Melvin D. Shipp, O.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H.

Dr. Melvin Shipp writes that “optometry is the nation’s third largest independent health care profession with prescribing authority …” He provides fundamental information about the profession and recommends five strategies for “addressing the under representation of minorities within optometry education.” These strategies include focusing on efforts to increase awareness and institutionalize “diversity/multiculturalism into each institution’s culture.”

Cultural Competency and Optometric Education
LeVelle B. Jenkins, O.D., F.A.A.O.

Student Recruitment in the Teleconferencing Age
Barbara W. Brown, O.D.

The author’s description of the steps taken by UM-St. Louis College of Optometry’s recruitment program provides rationale, inspiration and concrete advice for others who may want to re-examine their own initiatives. Through “webinars,” on-site workshops and forming a “virtual community,” travel time for staff was significantly decreased while prospective students had increased access to information. Although the innovations were undertaken initially as budget-trimming measures, staff benefited. People traveling were less fatigued, as were the staff who remained in the office covering for those away. Dr. Brown reports an increase in the applicant pool and although she acknowledges it is too early to judge whether this is due to the described programmatic changes, she is optimistic about the future of their efforts in this direction.

Student Perspective on the First Year Experience in Optometry School
Barbara McGinley, M.A.

The article draws from the experiences of five students at The New England College of Optometry (NECO) and that of the author who is Director of Student Services at NECO. The students were asked to talk about: their background, reasons for choosing optometry as a career, expectations of academic and clinical work at NECO, and the biggest adjustment faced when making the transition from an undergraduate institution to optometry school. The information provided would be useful for any student interested in optometry.

Optometry Admission Testing Program (OAT)
Mark Colip, O.D.

Dr. Colip discusses the structure and function of the OAT. He notes that all optometry schools require the test for applicants; however, each college determines the relative weight of the test score in the admission process. The information in this article is detailed. Dr. Colip lists topics covered in the test, provides specifics about test administration, and explains how the test is scored. A handy summary titled “The OAT in the brief” appears on the last page of the article.

Addressing the Shortage of Physician-Scientists One Student at a Time
Jennifer L. Bloom, Ed.D.
Amanda E. Propst Cuevas, M.A.
Katie Andre

The number of physician scientists in the United States peaked in 1985 at 23,268. By 1995 there were 14,340 physician scientists, and that number has remained fairly constant up to the present time. While providing an overview of the physician-scientist shortage in the United States , the authors describe a specific program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign called the fMRI (future Medical Research Investigators) club which is aimed at encouraging undergraduate students’ research and clinical interests. Sponsored by the Medical Scholars Program (MSP) this student led organization attracts about thirty members to its monthly meetings. One club initiative is Mentor Match which pairs a club member with an MD/PhD student. The authors write, “it is time to stop complaining about the shortage of physician scientists and instead spur al of the pertinent parties … to collaborate on new and creative solutions.”

Exhibit Review

A Visit to Dr. Gunther von Hagens' "BODY WORLDS: The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies"
Melissa Betz Cichowicz, Ph.D.

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