Article Date: 4/1/2006

Home Is Where the Rules Are

Kelly Kerksick, O.D.,

QUESTION: In optometry school, I didn't worry about exceeding my scope of practice, but after
graduation, I'm returning to my home state to practice. How do I determine exactly what I can and can't do as a licensed O.D. there?

Answer: This is an excellent question and one that every student should be asking. I find it unfortunate when a new graduate gets into trouble by exceeding the scope of practice for his or her state. Most of the time, this happens because new grads just aren't aware of these limitations. Even more unfortunate is the fact that many of these violations occur because a new O.D. is doing a procedure he's trained and qualified to do but not
licensed to do within the state.

Your state association is your greatest ally and can offer a wealth of information. In my home state of Illinois, a state board offense attached to your license number is a serious problem. As a result, I always exercise caution to ensure I'm practicing within the scope of my license. 

In addition to knowing scope-of-practice limitations, you should be aware of any additional requirements your state may have. For example, some states require certain equipment in every exam room. Again, it's important to note that compliance is the doctor's responsibility, so if you're practicing in a commercial setting, make sure you know what equipment must be present in the exam room.

As new practitioners, you must know the laws within your state. Your state association will be your most reliable
and accurate resource for this type of information. This is yet another reason why you should join your state association and give them your support.

A 2002 graduate of the Southern College of Optometry, Dr. Kerksick is currently in private practice. You can contact her at


Optometric Management, Issue: April 2006