AOA Center for Independent Practice (CIP)

Launched in fall 2022, the mission of the AOA Center for Independent Practice (CIP) is to fuel a passion for and create a foundational knowledge base to excel in the management of today’s independent practice of contemporary optometry. This center of excellence will help students and practitioners develop strong partnerships, optimize practice resources, create business strategy and utilize the fundamentals of professional practice advocacy.

AOA Center for Independent Practice (CIP)
Center for Independent Practice

Welcome home, independent doctors

The AOA has long been the voice of independent doctors and we want to help you succeed. Independent practice is thriving—whether you are practicing independently, want to learn more about it or want to find opportunities, the Center for Independent Practice (CIP) is your home.

This is your one-stop hub for resources to help advance your professional skills. Revisit often to find more information and tools to help you grow as the AOA fights for broader scope, recognition and opportunities for doctors of optometry.

Foundational Partners

The AOA thanks Southern College of OptometryThe Ohio State University College of OptometryNortheastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry  and University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Optometry for their visionary partnership and leadership in the CIP and independent practice of contemporary optometry.

The Southern College of Optometry and the Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry have the highest rate of AOA membership among students who graduated from 2011-2021, and the four CIP partner schools have the highest rates of faculty membership in AOA among all schools and colleges of optometry.

Build independent practice at Optometry’s Meeting®

Optometry's Meeting

The CIP Symposium, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Vision, for students and doctors: Friday June 23 from 10:30 a.m. to noon in Room 143 ABC at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The Symposium will feature keynote speaker Tom Bowen, founder and CEO of THRIVE Practice and Life Development, on opportunities to be successful in independent practice, followed by a conversation with leading optometrists about their experiences in independent practice. Partner schools will be recognized and AOA advocacy for independent practice will be highlighted during the Symposium. Please RSVP to this free event:  For more information, contact Rodney Peele at or click here.

An array of educational opportunities for students and doctors to support independent practice is planned for Optometry’s Meeting ® in Washington, D.C., June 21-24, 2023. For students, check out "How to Establish a Specialty Care in a Day-to-Day Practice" (Thursday June 22, 9-10 a.m. Room 202A), and "Contract Negotiation for New and Soon-to-Be Optometrists" (Saturday June 24, 1-2 p.m., Room 201). Doctors may be interested in "Maximizing Practice Success" (Thursday June 22, 1-2 p.m. Room 202B), and “Three Steps To Rapid Growth in Your Optometric Practice” (Saturday June 24, 2-3 p.m., Room 201). You can stay up to date with Optometry’s Meeting news, registration alerts, and continuing education and professional development by visiting the Optometry's Meeting website.

EyeLearn: Professional Development Hub

The AOA’s member-exclusive, centralized education portal, EyeLearn, offers an expanding online catalog of educational modules, webinars and resources to help advance clinical proficiencies, the practice of contemporary optometry, and practice management for doctors of optometry, future doctors of optometry and paraoptometric staff. When accessing EyeLearn, members log in with the same username and password used to login to the AOA website. There is a user guide offered for quick reference as well.

Practice Management courses for student and doctor members are available in EyeLearn for easy access. A sample of those valuable courses are listed below and can be searched in the content search bar or through specific course catalogs in EyeLearn.

Coding & billing

Federal law requires doctors of optometry and other physicians to use standardized codes in health care transactions. The AOA has important resources and guidance for practicing doctors, especially as state licenses expand to include more services and procedures.

Legal tips

When starting, joining or expanding an optometry practice, doctors often need legal counsel to best protect their rights and interests. AOA can help doctors find legal assistance, and also provides information on hot topics.

Practice Success

The AOA Board has prioritized practice success tools and resources.

AOAExcel ®

AOA member doctors, students and staff have access to tools and other benefits to thrive in independent practice through AOA Excel®. For example, with AOAExcel’s partners provide information and discounts for several types of insurance every doctor of optometry should have. AOAExcel also offers financial planning tips and resources. The CIP seeks to draw more attention to AOAExcel’s Career Center, as well as to help students, new graduates and anyone interested in independent practice to connect with established practitioners. The CIP will also promote mentoring opportunities that have long helped independent doctors succeed.

CIP Committee

AOA Immediate Past President Robert C. Layman, O.D.
AOA Secretary-Treasurer Jacquie M. Bowen, O.D.
Southern College of Optometry President Lewis Reich, O.D., Ph.D.
Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry Dean Douglas Penisten, O.D., Ph.D.
The Ohio State University College of Optometry Dean Karla Zadnik, O.D., Ph.D.
University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Optometry Dean Michael Bacigalupi, O.D., M.S.
Tara DeRose, O.D.
Aaron McNulty, O.D.
Erick Henderson, O.D.
AOA CIP Executive Director Rodney Peele, J.D.

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