Online optometry school to launch

April 1, 2015

An online optometry school is aiming to join the ranks of educational institutions offering the Doctor of Optometry degree. One of the largest national online universities is planning an announcement in the coming weeks about adding optometry to its roster of degrees offered.

Editor's note: Before you panic, we wanted to let you know that we had a little fun with our readers this April Fools' Day. Hope you enjoy our story and get a good laugh! 

An online optometry school is aiming to join the ranks of educational institutions offering the Doctor of Optometry degree. One of the largest national online universities is planning an announcement in the coming weeks about adding optometry to its roster of degrees offered.

The number of new optometry schools opening has raised concerns among optometrists.

Related: How many schools are too many?

Optometry Times Editorial Advisory Board member Marc Bloomenstein, OD, FAAO, welcomes the concept of an untraditional optometric education.

“Education is changing, and it’s high time that optometry jumped on board with educational technology,” he says. “Attending class on your own schedule allows students to spend more time partying and posting on social media. Partying equals networking these days, and students interacting is the same as established eyecare practitioners networking in between classes at Vision Expo, SECO, and AOA and Academy meetings. Those connections are important, and talking about that day’s clinic cases at the bar or dispensary is just as valid. Optometric education needs to meet students where they are now, not where the industry wants them to be.”

Related: University of Central Arkansas considering an optometry school

Going digital all the way

Brooklyn OD Justin Bazan and Optometry Times Editorial Advisory Board member says that he wishes online optometry school had been an option for him. Dr. Bazan is known for using only e-mail or social media in his phone-free practice.

“Online optometry school is definitely where we’re going,” he says, “and we should have had one by now. Having such an education would have prompted me sooner to give up my office space and start seeing patients remotely using technology. In the next few weeks, my practice will close its brick-and-mortar location. I’ll see my patients via Snapchat and the occasional video session. I can’t wait to be fully digital.”

Digital industry consultant

Alan Glazier, OD, founder of ODs on Facebook, has been hired as a consultant for the new online optometry school.

“We’ve shown that the industry has a big digital presence, and students are part of that. I’m thrilled to be part of making this happen for future optometrists.”

Related: Struggling law schools: Are optometry schools next?

Dr. Ernie Bowling named dean

Although the online optometry school has not yet formally announced its program, the school has already appointed its dean. Optometry Times Chief Optometric Editor Ernie Bowling, OD, FAAO, will head up the new enterprise beginning July 1, 2015.

Dr. Bowling is a former associate professor and director of the primary care service at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry. He will continue his duties as chief optometric editor of Optometry Times while undertaking this new venture.

“Becoming dean of the new online optometry school fulfills an hours-long ambition,” says Dr. Bowling. “Now I can bring optometry to the masses and enable all those students with marginal or non-existent grade point averages to fulfill their goals of providing quality eye care at bargain basement prices.”

Dr. Bowling is looking forward to effecting change within optometric education even though he’s expressed concern over the number of schools opening and the quality of optometric student candidates.

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