Inspiring the next generation of ODs

Inspiring the next generation of ODs

For many ODs, the most rewarding part of their job is not only the opportunity to help people, but also the ability to share their passion for and knowledge of optometry with aspiring doctors.

A new program, "Inspiring Future ODs"—a partnership between the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) and the AOA—encourages optometrists to connect with young people who may be interested in a career in optometry.

Paige Pence, director of student and residency affairs for ASCO, notes that ODs are vital to ASCO's career marketing efforts.

ASCO's annual matriculation survey and the optometry school application process have both found that the majority of first-year students and applicants indicated their decision to choose optometry as a career was due to the encouragement of a practicing optometrist.

"With the health care profession being so competitive for good students, it is important for the optometry profession to continue to excite and attract the best and brightest prospective students to this profession given the value and the expertise needed to practice at the highest level," says Pence.

"A strong communication effort about the profession will help ensure that we will always have qualified, skilled practitioners to care for our patients."

Opportunities for involvement
ASCO has created materials that ODs can use for student outreach, including:

  • "True Stories" Booklet
    "The booklet features stories about how optometrists improve the lives of real people—significantly and immediately—through the gift of sight.

  • "Be a Doctor of Optometry: Put Your Future in Focus" Video
    Students, faculty, administrators and practitioners give their perspective on topics such as making a difference in daily lives, career opportunities and work/life balance.

  • "Be a Doctor of Optometry" Presentation
    This is a convenient way for practitioners to talk about the profession of optometry, including information about what ODs do, types of practice, career outlook and educational requirements.

  • Optometry Marketing Card:
    These cards contain key facts and links to online resources that will help ODs start the conversation with prospective optometry students. Contact Paige Pence, director of student and residency affairs, at to request cards.

As for identifying students to reach out to about the profession, Pence offers some advice: "If an optometrist has a patient in their office or any other young person they think could contribute to and benefit from the profession of optometry, they should consider assisting that person in gaining further insight and information about this fulfilling career choice. Optometrists also can speak in their community at local middle schools and high schools about the profession."

Visit the ASCO website to learn more about the outreach program, access all career marketing materials, and complete a registration form to receive updates when new materials become available.

July 14, 2015

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