ASCO is concerned about the continuing recruitment of optometry students and optometrists into graduate programs. Traditionally, individuals with both optometric credentials and another graduate degree have formed the backbone of the faculty at optometric institutions. Some in optometric academia have expressed that an increased emphasis on medical eye care has perhaps decreased the value of graduate credentials and may have been partially supplanted by residency education, a substantial patient-based experience, or both. Likewise, the recent proliferation of new programs at universities where research is emphasized less among faculty has also altered the balance of faculty.
In 2012, with these concerns in mind, the ASCO Academic Affairs Committee (AAC) began implementing elements of A Marketing Plan for Graduate Education in Optometry (which was approved by the ASCO Board at the 2011 Annual Meeting). The first element of the plan featured a presentation by Dr. Mark Bullimore (an AAC member at the time who spearheaded the plan’s creation) about graduate education opportunities during a main session at the 2012 AOSA meeting. With the creation of a PowerPoint presentation, entitled Career Opportunities for ODs in Academia: Teaching & Research Needs, the AAC fulfilled the second element of the plan by creating a stand-alone information module that explores the need for increasing faculty ranks at optometric institutions. That presentation was recently updated (April 2017) and is available free of charge here.
In 2015 the AAC collaborated with the American Academy of Optometry to create a unique workshop for students attending the American Academy of Optometry meeting in New Orleans entitled Charting Your Career in Academic Optometry and Research: A Session for Optometry and Graduate Students. Experienced clinician scientists provided students already in, or considering, research degree programs with helpful information on performing research in optometry and vision science and the career paths that they can lead to in academic optometry and the vision care industry. A summary of the session can be found in the ASCO newsletter at: http://eye.opted.org/2790. A second collaborative AAC-Academy session featuring the same overall theme will again be offered (by invitation to students) at Academy 2017 in Chicago.
Stay tuned for future efforts of the AAC in this important area of optometry.