Article Date: 8/1/2011

from the sponsor

from the sponsor

Dear Colleagues:

We've often discussed—directly and indirectly—the role of industry in education. On the surface, it's pretty clear. Thanks to the support industry leaders receive from the eyecare community, the opportunity exists to offer unrestricted grants to support quality education. Most believe this helps keep the cost of continuing education low and enables our expert speakers to receive appropriate compensation, in most cases. The policies that govern these areas have been the subject of much discussion and debate. They're in place for good reason and are appropriate when not overly restrictive.

Because we've both spent significant time in and around the schools and colleges of optometry, we can appreciate the challenges of exposing students to all that is required to become an optometrist in the 21st century. Our academic leaders deserve a great deal of credit for continuing to challenge the classic model and for adapting their programs to help prepare our future colleagues—you—to pass the necessary exams, begin practicing and do no harm. The depth of knowledge in diagnosis and treatment our new graduates possess is truly impressive and seems to improve every year.

In the midst of an influx of optometry schools and colleges the likes of which we've not seen in some time, how do we continue to adapt? Can industry help? Industry and academic leaders can work together to ensure that programs and education developed by the industry will supplement what the schools and colleges are able to cover in their current curricula. With insight and transparency, the industry can develop programs that, although considered by academics to be important, cannot be adequately covered in today's 4-year optometric programs.

After presenting this concept to the ASCO leadership at Optometry's Meeting in Salt Lake City and receiving a positive reaction from many of the deans and presidents, there's reason to be encouraged. The members of this important association will have much to say about the future of optometry. Their leadership and creative thinking will have a significant impact on how our profession will meet the challenges of a very fragile, yet promising future. Let's work together: students, faculty administration and industry.

As has been said many times, the power of collaboration can and will surpass what each of us can achieve independently. It's certainly worth a try.

All the best,
Pete and Howard

Dr. Peter Kehoe
Professional Development Advisor,
Transitions Optical, Inc.

Dr. Howard B. Purcell
Vice President, Customer Development Group,
Essilor of America

PS: It was great to see so many of you in Salt Lake City. Your enthusiasm and passion for the profession is clear to anyone attending the AOSA meeting or “Student Bowl”—Wow!

Optometric Management, Issue: August 2011