New Optometry School Opening in Virginia

10:15 PM

Optometry is such a small world.  No really, I feel like once you really start talking to an optometrist you realize that they know or have worked with at least 5 other optometrists that you also worked with at some point or another.   There is such a strong since of community, and this is just one of the many reasons that optometry is such a great career.

The Southern College of Optometry
currently they are expanding their classrooms
 to accommodate larger class sizes!
Currently there are 19 accredited colleges of optometry in the United States, with 4 new schools awaiting accreditation.  With the latest news out of Virginia, let's make that five.  Traditionally optometrists in the Southeast have attended regional schools that include the Southern College of Optometry (Memphis, TN), Pennsylvania College Of Optometry (Philadelphia, PA), and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry (Birmingham, AL). See this link for an extensive list of all optometry schools. As an NC native, those three schools all had "regional" seats for North Carolina students wanting to pursue their optometry degree.  Now a new school in Grundy, Virginia (dubbed the Appalachian College of Optometry) is seeking accreditation for classes beginning in the Fall of 2014.  A class size of 48 is the goal for the college's inaugural class.  Apparently quite a few people are interested because Appalachian State University's website already has a disclaimer stating "We are NOT the Appalachian College of Optometry that is opening in Virginia." 

With more and more optometry schools opening around the nation, I know many doctors are concerned that too many graduates will cause an over-population of optometrists in their community.  I work in a highly populated area, and I will be the first to admit that finding the ideal practice situation to walk into as a new grad is next to impossible.  But the truth is, patients are needing more access to primary medical care providers like optometrists than ever.   The medical landscape is quickly changing over the past 20 years, and optometrists are now comprehensively educated to handle treatment and care of a number of acute and chronic ocular conditions and diseases.  We are on the cutting edge of technology being offered in contact lenses, and providing unique services like vision therapy and low vision.  There has never been a more exciting time in eyecare; as an optometrist you can offer general comprehensive family care or be a sole provider of specialty services in your areas of expertise and interest.  To all of those new grads or students considering optometry as a career, you have made a great decision and there are plenty of patients out there who are going to need your  care!

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