The state of
However, the University of Houston College of Optometry, a well-established public optometry school, is only some 200 miles away. Is another school of optometry needed so near by?
There are currently only 17 optometry schools in the
However, optometrists do not see a need, Dr. Dicianna says. Ive heard it over and over again, but the data do not support what the individuals are saying.
Mario Gutierrez, O.D., is one of those individuals. His private practice is just a few blocks from the UIW main campus, and hes been in close contact with Dr. Dicianna and other school officials as plans for the new school have developed. Indeed, more than a year ago, UIW administrators invited Dr. Gutierrez and other local optometrists to voice their thoughts about the proposed optometry school.
The subject of another optometry school makes the hair on the back of most O.D.s necks go straight up, Dr. Gutierrez says. I dont see that theres a huge need for more optometrists. And, if we needed more O.D.s, then Im sure the
His chief concern: Im not convinced that a small private school [so close to a larger public optometry school] is going to be able to produce top-notch optometrists. The
At least one
A stumbling block to health care in rural
In the meantime, UIWs plans are moving forward. The university is close to deciding on a location for its eye clinic. It will be in a low-income, high minority area of town and very close to the university, Dr. Dicianna says.
UIW, which also recently opened a school of pharmacy, is now seeking funding for the new optometry schoolbut not from a corporate sponsor. Dr. Dicianna lays this rumor to rest: The misconception by some of our local optometrists is that we have gotten into bed with a big box store. Were not even talking to a big box store about such an agreement. We have no dollars coming from that source at all.
While the UIW is a Roman Catholic institution and the proposed optometry school will be the only faith-based program in the
The Texas Optometric Association (TOA) cant stop the university, it says, but it wants to be heard. After seriously studying the matter, the TOA determined that this is a private university whose decision-making process on whether or not to open a new school is beyond our influence, says TOA president, David Wright, O.D. While our members may disagree about whether a new school should be built, everyone agrees that if there is going to be a new optometry school in Texas, it should be first class and should prepare new graduates to practice independent, full-scope optometry anywhere in the country. That is why the TOA has asked for a seat at the table as the planning starts moving forward.
I really wish they werent doing it, Dr. Gutierrez adds. But, I told the administrators, If you do it, just do it right. We dont want to take the profession back to the jewelry store.