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NOA 2023: Dissecting the state of optometry


Essence Johnson, OD, FAAO, addressed the "State of optometry," at NOA 2023 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

At the National Optometric Association 2023 Convention in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Essence Johnson, OD, FAAO, spoke about the "State of optometry."

Video transcript

Editor's note: This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

So I am Dr. Essence Johnson, a community and correctional health optometrist in Dallas, Texas. I'm also the executive director of Black EyeCare Perspective, and the director of health care careers at Uplift Education.

Yeah, so my second presentation at the National Optometric Association Convention is going to be on the state of optometry. And kind of the subtitle is: We need more doctors. So I'm very excited to kind of give a reflection of where we were 10 years ago and looking at where we are today. 10 years ago, what I remember about the state of optometry is that colleagues would tell us that we're saturated, that we don't need any more doctors, that there's no more space, that all of the patients are being taken care of.

And here we are: Fast forward, in 2023, and the sentiment is quite the opposite. So I'm really looking forward to kind of going through all of the data and the stats and the facts. I think that that's a piece that people are very excited to hear.

But then also talking about how we can get more doctors, through our D,E, and I initiatives, through our recruitment practices. And by looking at kind of where we're practicing, who we're providing our care to, and also how we are providing that care.

My key takeaways for the state of optometry presentation is really the where we were practicing, how we were practicing, and who we're providing care to. About 50% of our population of optometrists, we're practicing and private practice. We're practicing in the big metropolitan cities. But even in a metropolitan city like Dallas, where I'm from, there's pockets of inequity, there are pockets of where we're just not serving the population. And it may seem that a lot of our practices are concentrated in those more popular areas, when right across the street, we have patients that are in need of care.

So a big takeaway, especially since we have a lot of students in this space, is to really look at like yes, our private practices and our corporate practices, but not to discount our educational institutions, our hospitals, our community health clinics because they're put there in places, often in rural places or often right off the city path, to help us provide care to the underrepresented, the underserved, the underprivileged populations.

I just want to extend an invitation to all doctors of optometry to all eye care providers to join us in 2024 in Philadelphia for the National Optometric Association Convention. I think that it is a very unique experience, a very intimate experience. One that's a little bit different from our other conferences. And I just want to extend my personal invitation to all of our colleagues, all of the students, and friends to join us next year.

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